Marketing Absentia

Perhaps one of the biggest debates in the current media landscape in Australia is the decline in TV and prominence of online streaming (AKA Foxtel & Netflix). Even though Netflix was only introduced to Australia earlier in the year, its success with the Australian bingewatchers have skyrocketed. This was something the team felt we needed to address in our series pitch.

The series as a product can attract a wide range of audience, from teenagers to potentially the Baby Boomer generation. Coupled with a variety of different genres and Melbourne as the backdrop of the series, Absentia would be a series that would satisfy a majority of varied age brackets and classes of society. Essentially, with its non-linearity, Absentia is a binge series that would be suitable to a medium such as Netflix. The ability for consumers to watch as many episodes as they want in any order possible was crucial to our initial series conception, that people wish to watch a series wherever and whenever they like. If set against a realistic pitch, however, we didn’t want to potentially lose an older audience that may not have access to such medium.

So the team decided to indulge this in our pitch. We created two greatly varying opening sequences fit for TV and online streaming – one that was shorter and more dynamic, the other lengthier and detailed. Whereas our most polished opening sequence, set against a sprightly musical score, appeals to a younger audience with a shorter attention span, our experimental (and I confess more boring) alternative predicts visual settings of future episodes, akin to the Wachowskis’ Sense8 series.

Screening these at yesterday’s presentation, it was amusing to see that our classmates, as prototype to a younger audience, were more intrigued by the potency of the opening sequence for Netflix. A noted drop of interest occurred when the alternative (and longer) sequence was displayed, which goes to show that even though the latter had more substance, shorter attention spans must always be taken into consideration.

Absentia as a series

An essential idea the group established when we first brainstormed was to create a series that was entirely independent from the element of time. I realise I haven’t spoken about this concept on the blog, so here we go.

The thought was that if someone was to begin watching the series at any point, there would be no confusion as to what was happening. But the challenge was, how were we going to create coherent material that allowed people to jump around the episode order? So, we took this by the horns and adapted a non-linear sequence which completely eliminated a time concept. The pilot episode, which was established to be important in introducing the characters within a single space, was decided to be Hitch’s funeral. This would then be followed by an organic order of our character episodes, some with Hitch still alive and some (like mine) occurring after his death (in fact, my character flies to Melbourne because of his death).

2. Flame (by Julian)

3. Revive (by Vania)

4. Glass (by Paul)

5. Inhuman (by Darren)

6. Searching (by Tristan)

7. Cross (by Arthur)

We planned to implement consistent motifs and subtle character connections that would only be picked up by audience members who does see the series from start to end. An example of this is Hitch’s relationship with Britney and Max. Even though they all attend the same high school, their lives are quite independent from each other. However, a diligent viewer would discover that Hitch and Britney attend the same therapist, Ingrid, whose role in Max’s tale remains unestablished.

Another challenge we had to face is writing the series finale. Easily enough, we decided to maintain the non-linearity of the series and collaborate on the episode by writing our characters’ last or favourite moments with the Hitch character. Not only does this effectively resolve each of our characters’ plights, we also provide them with an element of closure, by reminiscing on what has been lost.

Final Week with the International Jobs crew


After five or so hectic weeks of finding guests, stalking them (legally) and schmoozing to the bones, our Media 6 seminar was a success! Although we haven’t received our feedback from the tutors, the fact that there weren’t any major dramas we had to deal with during the seminar was a triumph.

Overall, I was very glad to have been part of this team. A small circle of team members made major decisions with different aspects of the seminar that we led, but every member was motivated to work on their responsibilities. What was amusing to see was that even though we lost a majority of third year Media students attending (it is Week 11 after all), there was a great number of students from other Communications courses AND outside of RMIT that attended, including some old friends of mine whom I didn’t expect to come (nor did I invite them exclusively). I was surprised to see a mature couple enter the lecture theatre (late) and wondered how they heard about the seminar.

Despite the exhaustion, I am very happy with how much time was invested into this seminar and grateful for all the friends of the team members that helped make this seminar a success. I will definitely miss the weekly catchups on Fridays and the crazy followups on Facebook. I can only hope that the audience members saw the positive in our efforts and that we would receive great feedback.