Digital Shorts in a growth genre in the broadcast landscape. A place where commissioners can try out new talent, bold narrative techniques, and alternative serialisation of playout. Programme makers are accustomed to making series’ that strip across a week, usually in the same time slot or stack throughout many timeslots in a single day. Now, armed with platforms to play out antagonistic, inconsistent or just atypical durations means commissioners can populate the schedule with an array of lengths and genres to test the water with different demographics.
When linear TV was restricted to conventional channel playout it was always difficult to shoehorn short form content into the schedule, usually around some acquisitioned content from the States that came with an inherently reduced clock time to accommodate the greater volume of commercial break minutes. There certainly wasn’t the air of strategic placement, and targeted experimentation to litmus tests audiences in the way digital platforms have allowed.
Indeed the savvy of the digital audience is such that snack-sized content will be passed over in seconds should the viewer find it disapproving. The diagnostics from the platform will spell out in black and white how fickle the fanbase can be if you cut corners in delivering short form content that resonates.
BBC3 are enjoying the flexibility that the channel now offers having migrated from linear channel to online. They publish across a variety of social platforms in support of their content playing out on the channel itself.
Channel 4 is another channel that is commissioning short form content for their VOD platform All 4. This is where we pitched our shorts series based around the world of pampered pooches as “Rich Bitches”. Working with Jody Smith, the commissioning editor for Channel 4 shorts we developed the strand into Posh Dogs, an insight into the world of posh dogs, the owners that live to spoil and the people paid to pamper.
Researching the series resulted in many humorous meetings. For the non-pet-loving it can seem utterly bizarre that someone might spend four thousand pounds on a portraits of their pup (Episode 2. The Puppy Portrait) or fly a dog to Beverly Hills to go shopping (Episode 4. The Dancing Dog). Therein lies the intrigue. Series such as this, that get people arguing or debating “I would never!” means that the content is on point to get traction from the click bait viewers. Episode 5. (Furry Fashionista) is an intriguing look at canine fashion. There is a market out there for people wanting to accessorise their pets in much the same way that they do themselves.
It’s a dog’s life. Or not, for some. The Pooch Palace in Essex (Episode 3) and The Milestone (Episode 6), a five star Kensington hotel that offers a turn down service for your dog, are insightful looks at where really spoiled dogs go on vacation. The series is rounded off with a doggy Birthday party at a café in Brighton “it’s around what I would spend on my kids”. There is a line guaranteed to get a debate going.
In the midst of all these opulent surroundings, the series’ humorously juxtaposes the owner’s passion and enthusiasm, with the dogs being dogs; unaware and unaffected by the luxury they are engulfed by.
About the author
Director of Film & TV
Ged Cleugh is Director of Film & TV at Spectrecom Films. With twelve years’ experience as a director & producer of factual & lifestyle programming, Ged is a specialist in his field.