Creating originals? It's about being authentic.

Updated: Sep 21

We’re barely halfway through the year, yet there’s already so much excitement going on in the Video on Demand space. First up with the big guys like Disney announcing the launch of Disney+, Netflix dishing out it’s latest original, “Street Food”, Viu’s launch of pan Asian travelogue show, “No Sleep, No FOMO”, Hooq announcing it’s commitment to produce 100 originals in 2019 and HBO Go’s debut in Malaysia are among headliners in TV news today. Singapore’s leading video entertainment platform for short series, Viddsee has also announced more than 20 new titles expected this year. Derek Tan, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of the platform tells us more about his views on originals.

The concept of originals was made trendy, starting from Netflix placing that bet on "House of Cards” and has never looked back since. Socialnomics documented their journey to be leader in original content here. Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix mentioned at this year’s Series Mania, “If you pick the right storytellers, the right worlds, give them all the right tools they need to do the work of their life and get out of their way, it will pay off for you pretty well.” Clearly this trend is becoming rampant in Asia. Video platforms need these originals to differentiate their uniqueness from the stiff competition and the ever growing number of series makers wanting to tell their story.

Following Viddsee’s announcement of 23 new original short series slated for 2019, double the number from 2018, Derek Tan, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Viddsee, took time off his busy schedule to share the news and his thoughts regarding the South East Asia storytelling and the originals' trend. "The success of 2018’s slate of content with viewers and critics gave us encouragement to expand and continue the development of Viddsee Originals, which include our ‘Scene City’ anthology series, Voices social documentaries, and episodic series.” Others expected to debut include last year’s winners of the Viddsee Juree Awards from the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore, who were awarded production grants from the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) in Singapore to create more Viddsee Originals. Through this platform, Derek hopes to see greater empowerment of storytellers, creating engaging entertainment content, developing the series and filmmaking industry in Asia.

In considering the genres to create, Derek cited audience insights as a key factor, also influencing content curation and marketing across different markets. Data around viewing patterns, genres, keywords are among some of the metrics measured and analyzed. “Ultimately, storytelling is a creative and human endeavor, that is the cornerstone of who we are and what we do.”, says Derek.

When asked about this year’s trending genres, Derek mentioned, "Trends can vary according to geography and demographics. Indonesian audiences, for instance, are well-connected, mobile and social-media savvy viewers who tend to favor horror and relationship dramas. Singaporean audiences, on the other hand, lean towards family dramas and social documentaries.” Yet, while marketing their short form series and films across the South East Asian region, Derek and his team have discovered, "Audiences aren’t just curious about stories that come from their own country – and that’s a credit to skilful filmmakers who create films that have a compelling story, emotional complexity, and well-constructed characters.”

And so what makes a good story? Derek believes, “Plot, character development, pacing, emotional complexity, its ability to stir conversation – remain as important now as it did thousands of years ago. What changed, however, is that storytellers can access a multitude of tools, resources, and knowledge of techniques with increasing ease.” Finally, we had to ask which Viddsee Originals' title Derek was personally most looking forward to? He said, "I’m looking forward to all of them. What I will say, however, is that this year will see us venture into animation for the first time with Harry and Henry Zhuang’s ‘A Song As Written For A Boy’, as well as the conceptual, multi-genre series like Daniel Yam’s ‘The Multiverse at #30-33’.”

The next Viddsee Original expected to launch on their platform is a 10-film anthology, titled “Scene City”, premiering in June on Viddsee.

All images courtesy of Viddsee.

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