Creating for Online

The process of taking an original concept and turning it into a series ready for distribution.

Now more than ever, online streaming platforms like Netflix are commissioning original content that they can distribute exclusively. This means that they have full control over the types of shows and the release model, as well as the audience who watches it. This is an analysis of how a show is conceptualised and made specifically for an online release.


There are several important figures involved in the process of creating a series and distributing it to an audience. These figures can be grouped into sub-categories; Creative team, Production department, Script Department, Location department, Camera department, Sound department, Grip department, Electrical department, Art department, Hair and make-up, Wardrobe, Post-Production, VFX, and more.


1.   Concept

original concept, adaptation, miniseries, genre, actors, low/high budget, target audience

The scriptwriter(s) are responsible for researching the story, developing the narrative, writing the screenplay, and delivering it, in the required format, to the Producers. They are almost always freelancers who either pitch original ideas to Producers in the hope that they will be optioned or sold, or who are commissioned by a Producer to create a screenplay from a concept, true story, existing screen work or literary work, such as a novel or short story.

The producer initiates, coordinates, supervises, and controls matters such as raising funding, hiring key personnel, contracting and arranging for distributors. The producer is involved throughout all phases of the process from development to completion of a project.

This process may involve a collaboration with a group of creatives; a team of writers may get together to conceptualise a new drama series and then call in a director or camera operator to discuss the look and the feel of the show. From there the other departments of the show must be realised, from costuming to locations. 


2.   Finance 

Send to studios, apply for grants, crowdfunding, promotional teasers

In order to appeal to contributors and other crucial people such as actors and other creative and production members, a new series must market itself to their specific target audience.

Compromise is usually an inevitable part of the funding process, and when a producer comes on board with the money to make the show they have a degree of power over what will be included or excluded. In the case of a company (Netflix) commissioning a show, they have much more control.


Australian Financing Options 

In Australia, there are several avenues for acquiring funding for a new show. There are government grants that can be applied for, where a certain amount of money will be awarded to a show concept or a creative group who wish to make a series. In terms of community broadcasting, Channel 31 is a public television entity based in Melbourne that works with a large volume of volunteers who want to be involved in the creation of content to broadcast. They offer various training roles and experience in all areas of producing a series to air. There is also further opportunity for Content Development grants via the Community Broadcasting Foundation.


At the next level, Screen Australia is a body that offers various levels of funding for potential shows that are approved at their discretion. They offer funding in the form of a grants for any amount under $500,000, which covers the development, production and marketing of Australian screen content. There is a number of specific criteria a potential series of creative team must meet in order to be eligible to receive their money, and the information can be found on their website. Funding is usually provided to applicants with some level of experience in the industry, and having a distributor or broadcaster on board is usually required also.


3.   Production

Make the script come to life, find a crew, shoot the content, edit, create the series, make it coherent, make a pilot.

This is the most straightforward stage. The actors and crew get together to shoot each episode, usually over one block of time, i.e. a few months. When all the content has been recorded, the editing process begins.


4.   Distribute 

Make someone watch, get them to like it, appeal to a certain target audience/demographic

Unlike many VOD platforms, the majority of Netflix deals still happen the traditional way. A filmmaker finds a distributor. The distributor negotiates a deal with Netflix. And then the filmmaker gets paid a licensing fee upfront. Think of Netflix the same way you think about HBO or Showtime.


5.   Repeat

Continue to create the content that the distributor likes, surprise them in a good way, to keep fan interest and ensure follow-up deals

After the success of House of Cards, Netflix have renewed the show for a second, third, and then a fourth season. It’s success is continued by using the same stylistic elements that made it a hit, while continuing the story arc and introducing new characters into the plot.


Why we bought your project?

There are a number of reasons as to why a distribution entity may be interested in picking up a new show. New shows have to tailor their image and market themselves to make themselves feasible for the episodic distribution process. It is important for any potential show that wants to be picked up to have a clear understanding of the audience they want to appeal to and an idea of how they will entice that target demographic to watch. Along with this, develop a marketing strategy earlier rather than later of how you will reach potential viewers and gain their loyalty through inclusive and interactive means. It is also intrinsically helpful to have some content, even only a few minutes of highlights, to show potential investors and distributors.

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