SA Web Series: Another-Day Video

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Johannesburg
Johannesburg

Writing this series of blog posts on locally produced web series, has become very fulfilling and inspiring. Another-Day Video is a web series produced by young Jo’burgers, who used their passion and iPhones to produce very entertaining video content. It focuses on the life and sounds found around the city of gold, Johannesburg.

As a person who entered the online video production industry, and coming from the TV broadcast environment, I always wanted to use the full spec  TV broadcast cameras. Firstly, because of the picture quality they record and the camera’s ability to record quality sound. Secondly, for possibly selling the content to TV broadcasters.

The Another-Day Video team did not have a TV broadcast camera, but they did not let this get in the way of them producing video content. They started using their iPhones to film. And more impressively, they used the iPhone’s audio recording app as a directional microphone. Now that is clever!

Below are their answers from their website editor, “Nas Who”? to the questions I sent them.

We started Another-Day as a collaborative mix of hobby, passion and self-interest. There are a ton of music/movie/comic/events sites out there, but a lot of them veer more toward the PR and advertising side of things. That’s cool. That’s their business model which is great. It’s just not necessarily what we set out to do. But hey, you need 100 Cosmos so you can make a Vice, you know?

Our philosophy was: if we do this, we do it cos we love doing it and we love our city and movies, comics, music. That stuff. And to put strong opinions behind everything we do. We’re content curators but we’re also a collection of diverse and specialist opinions. Our web video stuff isn’t really a web series so much as a channel. There are in-jokes and references if you’ve watched enough of them, of course, but they are almost all standalone videos rather than individual episodes that make up a whole. Although now that I mention that, it does sound like a good idea. Maybe soon?

Our videos were actually the first sort of project we tackled. The entire site is the brainchild of Jaz (Jarryd Kin), who came to myself and Jordan (Koen) with the idea. We then all contributed our ideas on what sort of content we wanted up there. Jordan is a film editor who’s worked on a ton of local features and a big budget Hollywood production, so he wanted to produce a video interview series. I love film and have experience doing interviews, so we combined our skills and started doing video event-centric interviews. The first story we ever covered was Nike Run Jozi’s first event in Braamfontein. That did well. But it was also how we learned the hard way that YouTube would reset our view counter if we made changes after uploading.

It was also tonally veeeery different to what we would later get into, which is comedy. When we started doing comedy, in-jokes and nods to our frequent viewers started emerging. You see it in between, say, the MK Awards show video and the Oppikoppi 2013 video.

Was the intention to use this web series as a pilot to help you pitch it to TV broadcasters?

Not necessarily. Not to get all cheesy on you, but we really did start this whole project out of love. We all have careers outside of Another-Day. Jordan makes movies. I’m the new editor at JHBLive and I write when I can. Jaz is an illustrator. We produce the videos because we love producing the videos, and because we have a lot of freedom to do them the way we want to.

Obviously, we’d love to have the financial backing to produce a higher quality product, or to work on a different project, to really nail our vision. A while ago we were working on a music video, for example, which requires a different approach. Still, it would be a really great place to take the project in the future. To TV or just to a financially supported web series even. If we pitched for TV, we’d probably show them this stuff, but we’d pitch something different.

Did you pitch the show to any TV broadcasters? If yes, what was their response?
Nope. The most I’ve ever done in that regard is sling an offhand remark in the direction of MK when they moved from Dstv to online broadcasting. I joked that they should hire us to do interviews but they probably didn’t see the comment.

How did you fund this series?

Straight out of our pockets, really. Pretty much everything for Another-Day comes out of our pockets. We do receive the occasional cash influx from an advertising sponsor, and that helps keep the site ticking, but for the most part the videos have been sponsor-free. If someone is drinking something on-screen, it isn’t product placement. It’s cos that’s what they were holding. If Red Bull or whoever wanted to pay for that spot, I would put a Red Bull in everyone’s hand if it meant we could make the video the best it could be.

For now though, we work to keep the costs down. We shoot primarily on iPhones. Our microphone is an iPhone. We don’t pull this off with cash. We pull this off by deciding what event we’re going to attend, thinking up a fun angle, then showing up and hustling.

For our Oppikoppi 2013 video, we spent 3 full 8-hour days in the media area, walking up to every artist we wanted to interview and all the amazing people who work behind the scenes at Hilltop, and we sold them on the idea. The reason the bands loved taking part was because, as the lead singer of Black Cat Bones put it, “Finally! Something original!”. Because of the freedom we have to produce web content the way that we want to, we don’t have to mince words or bullshit people. We tell them the concept and invite them to get in on the joke with us. Every video we’ve produced (even that infamous We Are One Joburg 2013 video that was doing the rounds for a while) involves walking up to people, introducing ourselves, and then getting them in on the joke with us. It’s us saying to people, “Are you keen to take part? This is what we’re doing.” and then they are.

How are you measuring the success of this web series? ie. By the amount of views etc.

Yeah, just view counters and viewer reception in comments, etc. It’s weird. The internet is amazing because it’s transparent. You can see that view counter ticking up, quickly or slowly, over the course of days, weeks, months. I worked in advertising for a little bit and I know that brands are quite clever about their media buying. They guide who sees their content through media sales to help increase their views, and eventually it starts to become more about big numbers than consistent delivery or organic growth.

Another-Day was founded entirely on an organic growth model. Obviously because we’re not a mega-brand or a massive media conglomerate, so we have the freedom to do it that way. No one is paying for their health insurance or their kid’s education using the Another-Day bank account. That being said, if it’s just about driving up numbers and you’re someone who’s buying views, then you’re not banking on the strength of your product or your content. At the end of the day, Views sell, but there’s something to an organic growth model and the web does give us the freedom to have that.

Every single audience member that has ever landed on Another-Day and stuck with it has done so through organic promotion. I’ve asked maybe 8 people to ever ‘like’ us on Facebook, riiiiiight when we started, I asked 8 close friends to do that. After that it’s all been about producing stuff and seeing how people respond to it. We’re a collective of people who want to contribute.

Sometimes it’s about 1800 people who watch a video. Other times, if you’re lucky, it’s We Are One and 100,000 people see your work and enjoy it. We hope for the latter every day.

What is the audience retention stats like?

Eh. I think we have 113 subscribers on YouTube. Not that I know anyone who uses YouTube’s subscription service to its fullest potential. Most of us wait for the internet itself (or Facebook or Twitter) to curate our content for us, so it’s like this hyper-accelerated version of real life. The coolest person you know and secretly resent goes to the bar, then you and your friends go to the bar, then you complain about how full the bar is because everyone goes there, but you’re still there. That’s the internet in a nutshell.

Our site audience grows from month to month. Occasionally there are massive spikes. But maybe 1500 people watch every video we produce on the day of launch. Hopefully as the site’s audience grows, more people will gravitate towards the YouTube channel and watch the videos.

Have you sold this series to any other website yet?

Man, the local web publishing/media sphere can be cutthroat. SA’s internet audience is a relatively tiny pie and you’ve got lots of folks competing for a sliver of that same pie. I believe collaboration is 100% what the internet is about, so this isn’t me saying “We wouldn’t like to sell the series”. This is me saying 100% that I’m not sure anyone would be interested in paying for content when there’s so much free stuff they can use to service their audience for now.

Look at the Buzzfeed business model. It’s built on recycling and curating existing media into a form that entertains people. And it is working phenomenally well for them. They took Cracked.com’s concept of, like, “Top 5 Music Videos That Are Secretly Ruining Your Life” and transformed that into the leaner, meaner “8000 GIFs That Prove Buzzfeed Is Rotting Your Brain” and that is, I must say, phenomenally clever of them.

My point is, if you can access our content for free on YouTube, would you really pay us to host it on your website or take ownership of it? Welcome to Nuuuu-media.

Would you be interested in selling your series to any other website?

To another site? I think that if there’s someone who’s interested in buying the product for what it is and what it can be, I think we’re 100% open to that. But will someone want it? I think it’s more likely someone would hire us to produce a new series that they own and control.

If yes, how much will it cost?

At the moment, we’re lo-fi and that’s great. We’ve made shooting on iPhones and stuff into a strength. That being said, I think we could do amazing things with a real budget. Real money can translate into real production value. If someone wants us to shoot something because they enjoy our voice, our senses of humor, our approach to things, they should approach us with a budget and we would work from that. Just like any other creative agency would.

Click on the links below for information about:

Another Day Video: Website

Another-Day Video Twitter: @AnotherDayJhb

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