What SVoD revolution in screenwriting has led to? Lilia Kim’s case

18 September 2018, 16:45

The global tendency of moving away from traditional viewing in favor of video-on-demand platforms has led to a range of changes in screenwriting. This was the topic of presentation by Lilia Kim, a well-known Russian writer and screenwriter, on September 18 at KYIV MEDIA WEEK 2018 international media forum. 

For example, before when there was only linear television there was also a standard practice: the number of acts and cliffhangers directly depended on the number of advertising inserts; the audience had to get interested before the break to come back afterwards. However, there are no standard advertising inserts on VOD platforms, so one can and should play with the number of acts and cliffhangers; this is especially true for projects designed for binge watching. 

By the way, due to popularization of binge watching one should engage the audience not just with cliffhangers but via creating a world/universe one would like to spend a lot of time in. The viewer shouldn’t be allowed to turn the episode off at any moment. In particular, the changes also concern the characters: they should be more multifaceted, more controversial, stay in the limelight during intimate, scandalous and humiliating scenes, and the situation itself should be universal and understandable for any territory. 

The plot is to be centered on archetypical characters and the so-called quests, stories. There should be several of them, close to the reality of as many countries as possible: e.g., child’s coming of age and his/her relationships with parents, etc. Narrow themes are not in favor. However, familiar plots should be resolved in a fresh and unusual way.   

Finally, a growth trend in the number of beats per script page can be observed. For example, in some series it is possible to identify five to eight beats per scene occupying one to one and a half pages (in English) while in the 1980s such density per episode was the normal density per the whole season of the series.