You need to make shows that speak to a limited niche audience who will champion that show and cherish it as their own.
We catch up with the man who directed Dubplate Drama, Luke Hyams.
Luke, who also worked on the internet hit, Kate Modern, has created Bitchcraft, an internet series commissioned by YouTube. Starring Fay Ripley from Cold Feet and Javone Prince from Phone Shop, the series is about the daughter of a witch with very, very wicked ways.
We had a chat with Luke to find out a little more.
You wrote Bitchcraft with your sister? Where did the idea come from? Bro, is your mum a witch doe!?
The idea came about from experiences friend's my age had gone through having to move back in with their parents as adults themselves, due to the difficulty of rising rents and lack of decent available places to live in London. When kids move out, parents often go through empty nest syndrome and compensate with other things. In our show we set aside the mundane realities of hoarding, cat collecting and promiscuity in favour of good old-fashioned Witchcraft. So that’s the premise of the show, but it quite quickly moves on to our central character Gemma realising that she may have magic tendencies herself and the resulting inner conflict she faces as she tries to decide whether she should use the dark arts to get ahead. Oh and bye the way my mum is lovely and in no way witchy…. Though she does like cats… hmmm.
The challenge there-in is how we interpret and invert witchcraft conventions for a 2013 audience
Vampires and werewolves have been very popular. Is it the time of the witch right now?
Its funny because I spent most of the last two years trying to convince channel executives that Angels were the new Vampires. When making a show on YouTube that is designed to be consumed in snack-size chunks of less than three minutes, the last thing you need is a complicated mythology for people to try to get their head around while dipping into a video from your series. The vast majority of the potential audience of our show already know what a witch is and what to expect, so it makes it a lot easier for us to get into action without painful exposition. The challenge there-in is how we interpret and invert witchcraft conventions for a 2013 audience… people will have to click the link and subscribe to see that.
How did you get YouTube's attention to commission a series? Presumably this is another telling sign of the future of TV as we knew it?
At the end of 2011, YouTube went into original content in a big way commissioning over a hundred channels from exisiting YouTube stars like BlackBox T, and mainstream entertainment entities like Warner Music, WWE and Madonna, to name but a few. The idea was to create focused destinations on YouTube where users who were into a specific entertainment brand or artist could go to enjoy new material. YouTube brought the initiative over to the UK last year and I was part of a team at production company Channel Flip who successfully pitched for a channel named The Multiverse which specialises on UK originated scripted sci-fi / fantasy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Bitchcraft is one of the first shows to be premiered on the channel and is based around a group of characters I’d been toying with since 2002.
As for the future, I can definitely see people like me getting more and more funding from entities like Google, Amazon and Netflix as opposed to the traditional routes of the UK broadcasters or brand sponsorship.. And that’s a positive thing in my opinion. The more avenues the better!
I can definitely see people like me getting more and more funding from entities like Google as opposed to the traditional routes of UK broadcasters...And that’s a positive thing in my opinion.
How does filming a series for the internet differ to more traditional TV?
In my experience, I have found that when you create a show for online you must NEVER try to make something that aims to appeal to a very broad audience as it will most likely get lost in the ether. You need to make shows that speak to a limited niche audience who will champion that show and cherish it as their own. So with that in mind, to have a global web show phenomenon that everyone is into might be quite difficult to achieve, (unless it’s the adventures of a sneezing panda who dances like a horse). The Internet and the viewing experience you get from it is far more individualised than anything we’ve ever known before in entertainment terms. It's more like going to a library and exploring than the narrow experience you get when you sit in front of a pre-programmed set of TV channels.
What was the toughest aspect of making the series?
Making this show on a very low budget was very, very hard indeed. There are just so many instances along the way where compromises have to be made, but I am a lot more accustomed to that than a lot of directors. I had to pull a lot of favours and cash in a lot of good will but luckily we had an incredibly supportive team behind us who really believed in the show and brought a lot of much needed energy to the project. They really did a great job and I was proud of how hard everyone worked.
Bitchcraft can be found online here. If you subscribe to the channel they will send you the new episodes when they drop every Thursday afternoon.
For more info, check the Facebook page.