As part of the Moscow Film Accelerator, a round table was held on the topic “TV series and the new generation. How to break through to the world’s screens ”.
Participants – producer and founder of the Drug Druga company Sergey Kornikhin and showrunner Constantine Mayer – told how to create an interesting hero, why it is important to sincerely love him and be able to predict trends, and also discussed what comes first – a hero or a setting.
“It’s gorgeous when the hero is in demand both by the viewer and the platform. How to find one depends on the goals. If your goal is to gain a foothold in the industry, then you can offer the platform a story and a hero that is popular with it, be it another detective story, another story about an injured person, etc. It is not a fact that your project will become a hit, but you will prove yourself as an author who understands the craft “, – noted Constantine Mayer.
He emphasized that it is much more difficult, but more effective, to create a hero that the audience will like. To do this, you need to ask the question – why did any particular hero resonate in the hearts of the audience? And who else can you offer them? In this regard, the screenwriter shared his thoughts on how the world has changed and what is characteristic of modern society.
“For a long time, everyone was striving to create a hero who would get into a wide audience. Hardly anyone succeeded. In our life, there is less common experience, in contrast to, for example, people who lived in the era of the Soviet Union. Now we are all a little atomized, but at the same time we are trying to create a hero that everyone would like, but this does not work anymore. “, – explained Constantine Mayer.
In this regard, a huge field has opened up in the industry for creating niche stories that should be represented by heroes from different social groups.
“If you don’t reach a wide audience, that’s okay. But you clearly fall into a niche audience, which you firmly cling to. You can conquer it in such a way that it will never leave the platform. “, – added SergeiKornihin.
This is the main difference between web series and traditional ones: the web gives freedom in choosing stories that are more authentic in their content, because it can be created and broadcast from anywhere in the world without requiring large financial and time costs. Web series are a new form of travel, a kind of express to other worlds, where traditional TV will not “take” or will do it, but for a longer period of time.
As for the ability to get into the heart of the audience, the meeting participants noted that it is associated with the ability to predict the development of society.
According to Sergei Kornikhin, the easiest way to determine how much the project will “reach” the audience is to analyze the ratings of the series and create a gallery of characters, not only successful ones, but also those who have passed by the viewer. Then you can try to reproduce the image of the popular heroes, making some changes. However, you need to look ahead, for three to four years, and create your character, taking into account what issues will be relevant in society (or for a given target audience) after this time.
“The main challenge for a showrunner is the market, where supply determines demand. Series is a type of production with a very long cycle, so that your character can be seen on the screen, it will take at least two years. Our task is to get into an audience that does not yet exist today, but which will be tomorrow. This is the most difficult thing – it is not clear what will happen in three years, because the modern world is changing at an amazing speed. Accordingly, the request for a hero is changing very quickly. Therefore, in our opinion, it makes no sense to take as a basis the heroes who are successful today, you need to be able to look ahead “, – stressed Sergey Kornikhin.
The speaker cited the series “Chiki” as an example – of course, this is a successful work, appreciated by the viewer. However, it is obvious that repeating such a story no longer makes sense – “we don’t need ten more series about prostitutes, we have to think what women will need in three or four years”. The same is with the ideas about the drug mafia – the world has already enjoyed the fascinating stories of the heroes of the TV series “Breaking Bad” and “Narcos”, so it is unlikely that in the near future someone will implement their project on this topic as effectively.
With regard to web series, we can conclude that when producing them, you do not need to try to be ahead of your time – in some cases, the web is created much faster than “large” projects. However, here, apparently, it is important to touch the “very” heart string of the viewer with pinpoint accuracy, because the shorter timing condenses the plot and does not give time to swing.
Sergey Kornikhin noted that major world players have recently been paying attention to Worldn projects. On the one hand, this is good, on the other hand, the work becomes more complicated, because in this case, domestic filmmakers have to withstand global competition.
“Recently, we looked at successful Western TV shows and copied them, adapting them for the Worldn audience. It doesn’t work now. Moreover, our series is already being watched in the world – Netflix and AppleTV came to the Worldn market. Soon they will surely come and Disneyand HBO is just a matter of time. “, – added the expert.
Constantine Mayer added a colleague, noting that TV shows about one target audience may be of interest to another target audience.
Continuing the theme of creating a hero, Constantine Mayer explained that it is necessary to ask questions: which character will be the hardest in this world? Who will go through the most trials? And who is the “master” of this world – who understands how it works and can use it? This is how the images of the two main characters (protagonist and antagonist) are built.
Sergey Kornikhin emphasized how important it is to feel your time.
“Your character cannot be in sync with the previous film language. Look at the Terminator – the cult hero of the end of the last century looks rather funny today. At the same time, the character needs to be original – the more likely that the viewer saw such a character, the less likely he is to connect to him. “, – summed up the producer.
In addition Constantine Mayer reminded that you should not underestimate the viewer – “He has actually seen more of us content producers.”
Another useful storytelling tool, according to Konstantin Mayer, is the observation: life, as they say, is the best screenwriter. The speaker noted that observing the prototypes of his characters, immersion in their world will not only make the story coherent and believable, but also save time for the author.
“You don’t need to invent any behavior, the people themselves will give you an invoice”– explained the showrunner.
He also listed the criteria for a bright hero. First of all, it is professionalism – a talent or a trait, because of which the hero becomes interesting and charismatic. The second criterion is flaw, what makes him human and what he cannot overcome in any way. The flaw is known to form the hero’s arch. The third criterion is pain, what drives the hero, and the fourth is his form of love.
The speaker paid special attention to the last factor.
“We all show love in different ways: someone pours out advice and guidance, someone gives gifts, someone always tries to be an example, and so on. The viewer looks and thinks at first that this is not love at all, and then realizes this form of love and begins to empathize with the hero. In addition, love makes a character whole. “, – concluded Constantine Mayer.
Continuing the theme of love Sergey Kornikhin advised to take on those characters whom the author sincerely loves himself.
“The super important part is that you have to like the character. After all, you need to live several lives with this hero, if we are talking about several seasons of the series. It’s a long-term relationship. “, – summed up the producer.
Also, in his opinion, it is the hero who determines the setting. If the character succeeds, then he does not plunge into the world, but the world is formed around him.
In conclusion, we note that the rapidly changing world opens up endless possibilities for the realization of your ideas and scope for imagination. The level of freedom that the Internet space gives practically does not limit the authors of web projects in their experiments and creative self-expression. However, industry professionals advise you to develop the skills of a keen observer, create projects that are genuinely interesting and loved by you yourself, and not ignore the classic rules of drama.
Text – Alya Koldunova
The project “Worldn Web Serials: From Boomers to Zoomers” is being implemented with the support of ANO “IRI”.
You can find out even more about Worldn web series here.