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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

Got a pitch or story to tell? OTT channels are all ears

The biggest web streaming platforms are inviting scripts and ideas for contests

more-lifestyle Updated: Sep 28, 2019 19:55 IST
Aishwarya Iyer
Aishwarya Iyer
Hindustan Times
Some platforms ask for just the concept and some ask for a more detailed script, but all are looking for fresh ideas from viewers.
Some platforms ask for just the concept and some ask for a more detailed script, but all are looking for fresh ideas from viewers.(istock)

Do you have a crazy story to tell, web streaming platforms are asking youngsters in India.

Amazon Studios has tied up with production house Triforce Creative to invite and vet submissions from across countries, including India. Star India has a section on their website called Pitch Your Ideas, where you can outline your script in various categories from comedy to action, thriller, drama and sci-fi.

And the storytelling platform Wattpad — used widely by writers of fan fiction, who typically post alternative story lines, create subplots and rewrite the endings of the shows they love — has partnered with Netflix, which is looking for quirky stories by amateur writers.

The ideal, in each case, is to crowdsource plotlines for web series, so they can keep replenishing the offerings on their OTT platforms. “In India, we are constantly collaborating with local producers to make quality content,” says Vijay Venkataramanan, director of post-production at Netflix India.

We’re in the midst of a content explosion in our country, adds independent brand strategist Ambi Parameswaran. “Binge-watching is changing how people consume content, as well as how content is created. There’s a demand for fresh ideas, more ideas.” In some cases, though, he adds, the invitation to amateur writers is just a smart way to reach out to consumers and make them feel more invested in a platform.

Take a shot
  • OTT platforms are soliciting plotlines from amateurs. So if you’ve been scribbling away on Wattpad or other fiction and fan fiction websites, it’s time to give it a go.
  • Themes most likely to be picked include sci-fi and horror, gender and LGBTQ+ issues, and the lives of ethnic, religious and other minorities.
  • Some contests require just an outline. The Amazon Studios international competition requires a synopsis as well as a 10- to 15-page script
  • In Amazon’s annual contest, two winners from London, were announced on September 10 and will work with Amazon Studios to develop their scripts.

“Today every kid wants their own web series. Among the thousands of submissions, some may bring to the table diverse ideas and genres that the producers may have overlooked, thus democratising the space further, but by and large, OTT platforms deal with registered production companies,” Parameswaran says.

Among the actual beneficiaries in India are youngsters like Aanchal Budhiraja, 24, a Delhiite who made a living contributing to fiction portals like Tapas Media and Radish Fiction. She came across a social media post by Star network, applied to their and Star Writers’ Programme. “I had to submit rough character and plot outlines,” she says. “I drew from my self-published anime graphic novel, The Demon Babysitter, where a supernatural force appears at the door of a single mother and offers her a wish that can change her life.”

Budhiraja is now set to attend a Star workshop in January 2020 to help her learn to frame, pitch and develop plots. The best ideas that arise from the event are chosen for original content series or film.

Amazon announced its two winners (both from London) on September 10 and they will work with Amazon Studios for three to six months, on contract, to develop their scripts. Star India takes in 15 writers every year (since 2018). The two best ideas are picked to be developed into a show.

First Published: Sep 28, 2019 19:55 IST

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