Companies like Quibi, SnapChat, YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon are changing the algorithm when it comes to watching content online or on your phone. We used to watch sitcoms and dramas that ranged from thirty minuted to an hour. But then the lack of a need for commercials and breaks started to change the content.
Now streamers are looking to expand into more short-form content. As Quibi nears its debut, the demand for these kinds of TV shows and web series has reached an all-time high. So how are people used to writing a traditional narrative supposed to adapt to these new constraints?
And how can you brainstorm content for a place like Quibi?
Let's go over three possible ways to kickstart your next pitch or project!
How to Brainstorm Short-Form Ideas (for places like Quibi)
Get your pen and paper out and get ready to write. Brainstorming is no easy feat, but I have been scouring over the titles of short-form shows that were purchased by Quibi and I think these are great places to get your ideas ready to go. Remember, short-form ideas all need to fit the 5-15 min mold.
So make sure when you're crafting your loglines, it's easy to see how your show will fit the peg in the hole.
1. Use the time constraint to evoke a ticking clock
Remember 24? Doing a show that covered one day, one hour at a time, was genius. Now let's find the microcosm of that idea and build from there. Quibi has a show about time travel that sends you fifteen minutes into the past or future. What could you change? Who would you talk to?
Think about runtime in that light. How can you use the timing of your show to your advantage?
Maybe a coming of age comedy about seven minutes in heaven?
The world is your oyster. How long does it take to shuck an oyster?
2. Tell an epic story in the moments that matter
One of the coolest ideas coming to Quibi is a show about Charlemange that will explore a historical epic in the moments where the legend was made. That's a really fun way to shrink a big story down to size. They're doing something similar with Frat Boy Genius, where they tell the story of the invention of SnapChat in a series of videos that pick up on the snippets where the idea came and was developed.
So what's a big story that has a ton of moments that define it?
Could it be the American revolution? Or perhaps a biopic on a famous musician? Or maybe it's the story of one location where a ton of famous things happened, like Woodstock or Times Square.
What's a good way to tell your story?
3. Build your anthology series
Creators like Steven Spielberg are coming to Quibi to do anthology stories. They can be adventures or horror shows. Spielberg's show is unique in that you can only watch it at midnight! So what would you do with a bunch of ten minute short ideas? Could you do something cool like the BMW films with Clive Owen?
Or maybe a series of horror stories like CryptTv has on Netflix? What's your American Crime, but much smaller?
Think is bite-sized moments and you'll be able to refine it from there. Is there a science fiction story that could change episodically but have the same themes like Love, Sex, and Robots?
Again, the sky is the limit, and so are time constraints.
Like many places, streamers love IP, so look through the public domain and see shat you can get!
What's next? Learn how to write a short film!
Chances are you’re reading No Film School because you’re not only obsessed with Hollywood, but you want to be a part of it. But breaking in is never easy. That’s why I think writing short films and even making them yourself, has become a viable option for breaking into the business.
Of course, writing a short film is no simple task, but today I’ll take you through a few great strategies to get your short film ideas on the page, and then hopefully on the screen.
Let’s get going!