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Mission Selfie And The Redefining Of Video Production

Photo of Tim Mulligan
by Tim Mulligan

A London-based start up called the Narrative has just the finished production of a 5 episode short form video series for BBC Worldwide called Mission Selfie. This is the first short form video series commissioned by the global arm of the BBC and is of particular interest, because of its potentially hugely disruptive business model. Mission Selfie is a travel vlog presented by YouTube stars Ben Brown (a photography vlogger with 547 thousand YouTube subscribers) and Steve Booker (a travel vlogger with 183 thousand YouTube subscribers) and follows them on their immersive and idiosyncratic travelling experiences across 5 different global locations. 

YouTube Is The New Film School For Digital Natives

One of the interesting philosophical positions taken by The Narrative is their focus on where new talent is emerging in video production. As Nick Hayward a co-founder of The Narrative positions it “YouTube is the film school of the digital era”, where up and coming directors, producers, sound engineers and social talent all combine to learn and hone their craft through increasingly sophisticated collaborative productions. Not only is this a talent pool, it is also fundamentally a new way of creating video content and looking at how to produce compelling narratives through short-from video.

The narrative has harnessed this dynamic and applied it to client projects where they build a team around a project based upon their prior short–form video expertise and online connectivity. All their collaborators have substantial social media followings in their own right. These networks can be leveraged in addition to the front-of camera social talent to help generate a marketing buzz around a project.

Agile Production & Its Disruptive Potential

A key advantage of building a team that has cut its professional teeth bootstrapping projects on YouTube is in bringing together a team of video entrepreneurs who get the need to produce rapidly, reflexively and competitively. YouTubers understand the need to engage in rapid turnarounds using optimal amounts of existing resources, time and locations. In the hyper production cycle of successful YouTube Creators, the road map from concept to scope to production to live product is measured in hours rather than months. While this production format is less suited for bigger budget projects the need to deliver on fast-moving projects is hard-wired into the DNA of YouTube originating video talent.

The Narrative’s founders have taken a leaf out of the Silicon Valley and defined this ultra reflexive production methodology as Agile Production after the agile development strategies beloved of tech start-ups. The results of combining YouTuber efficiency with third party budgets and expertise has led to some impressive cost savings.

The Narrative claims that their production costs are under a tenth of a standard TV production company focusing on reality TV content.

A New Revenue Model For Production Collaboration

Another potentially hugely disruptive aspect of The Narrative’s business model is the inclusion of the talent-pool in the revenue share of productions. Historically, the film industry has restricted production revenue shares to directors, producers and leading actors. Building upon the native content creator roots of the production teams behind The Narrative’s video projects, they are looking to incentivize team members by sharing profits from the finished production in a revenue share model. Not only does this fit in with existing practices emerging across social talent focused platforms, it also incentivizes production partners to leverage their social media footprints. The result is both pre windowing product awareness raising and post launch brand development.

As established TV content networks wrestle with how to build engaging relationships with digital natives, creating optimal short form content in the mobile video era is key to maintaining brand relevancy with audiences. Engaging with 360 degree social talent represents one way to replicate the authenticity of the native creator dynamic, without merely looking to leverage transient youth-centric digital audiences.

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Shimshey Geiger
Great information. Thanks, and please keep continuing.
Fraser Pitkethly
What a good useful and helpful article giving an insight into this new style of online video content. Thanks for sharing
Worst show ever. I got 10 minutes in and when I realised it wasn't a mockumentary I wanted to throw up. I feel so sorry for the younger generation in general because they are spoon fed idols who promote banality and ignorance. But now for an institution like the BBC to endorse this rubbish is shocking and a shameful waste of the public's licence money. The BBC's integrity - another death of 2016.
Agree with kitarrowsmith. These You Tube stars have spent so much time looking pretty at home, they will go 'Wow' or 'Cool' at the slightest thing that hoardes of others have seen before. They also come across as over privileged posh types who have never paid for anything in their life. Watched one episode and couldn't watch any more.
Well this resulted in a fatuous self indulgent "bro" fest wallowing in juvenile stupefaction