Aussie director Hannah Lehmann shoots original content for Snapchat. She explains what makes the platform unique.

Hannah Lehmann. Image: Supplied
  • Snapchat’s parent company Snap is investing in Aussie talent, partnering with Screen Australia to give two Aussie filmmakers funds to develop a series.
  • This isn’t the first time Snap has supported Australian talent – it’s Snap Original series “Two Sides” was created, written and directed by Aussie Hannah Lehmann.
  • Lehmann spoke to Business Insider Australia about her filmmaking experience with Snap and other short-form video content.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Snap is keeping an eye out for Aussie filmmakers.

In 2016 Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc released its first original series, “Good Luck America”. Since then it has released more than 95 series – from documentaries to dramas to comedies – with each episode being around five minutes long and accessible via the Discover screen on Snapchat.

One of those series was “Two Sides”, which was created, written and directed by Aussie Hannah Lehmann. Debuting on the platform in June 2019, the series explores the lives of a couple who have broken up, told from both characters’ perspectives at the same time.

More recently, Snap announced a partnership with Screen Australia for filmmakers to produce vertical mobile series for Snapchat. As part of the initiative, up to two teams will receive $15,000 in funding and the opportunity to travel to Snap’s headquarters in LA to workshop their ideas.

The partnership was spurred by Snap’s belief that there is great, burgeoning filmmaking talent in Australia. Now it wants to tap into that community.

“We’re committed to creating opportunities for emerging creators not just in front of the camera, but behind the camera too,” Erin Keating, Senior Development Manager of Snap Originals, said in a statement.

While Snapchat may have lost some popularity after celebrities like Rihanna quit the app and competitors like TikTok entered the scene, in the third quarter of 2019, it had 210 million daily active users.

Snap told Business Insider Australia via email that Snapchat reaches more 13 to 24 year olds than either Facebook or Instagram in Australia, the US, the UK, France and Canada. And by teaming up with Screen Australia, the company is looking to writers, producers and directors in Australia to help lead the way with vertical filmmaking for mobile.

As Snap scouts for Aussie talent, we spoke to filmmaker Hannah Lehman about her journey to Snap.

Making short form videos

Lehmann is no stranger to short-form video content.

Starting out as an actor, Lehmann told Business Insider Australia she found it tough to book jobs in Australia. So she decided to take matters into her own hands and create her own work. In 2017 she created the web series “The Out There” for Instagram, with each episode going for one minute.

Lehmann also did a Facebook Watch show together with Seven Studios called “The Unboxing”. It was the first Australian show produced by Facebook for its Watch platform, and starred comedian Tanya Hennessy.

After “The Out There” gained popularity, Lehman sold it to a media company in Los Angeles. Around the same time, Lehmann had been in contact with another LA-based digital media company called New Form, and she pitched to them some series she had in mind. One of them was “Two Sides”. With New Form on board with the project, Lehmann pitched the idea to Snap and they took it on.

Filming for vertical screens

Lehmann’s series isn’t filmed on a phone. Instead, she has a full crew – like any other series.

“We shoot it exactly how you would shoot any industry standard [series],” she said. “Being on Snap, they’re a large company and they have a certain quality to their work that they want to have.”

But because the series is designed for vertical screens, and is split-screen, Lehmann added that there were some things that had to be taken into consideration when filming.

Two Sides. Image: Supplied.

“We shot everything like normal but we had guidelines that show up on the camera so we can see a square ratio,” she said. “So you could see exactly what was going to be on that half on the phone. It was just making sure that whatever was being shot was going to actually fit into the screen.”

Because there are two storylines in one, it was also important that the dialogue wouldn’t overlap. Lehmann said it was something that required “a new way of thinking”.

“It came down to very precise timing of every single scene to make sure that the edits would fit seamlessly together once we got to that part of the post-production,” she said.

Lehmann added that she has received a lot of support from Snap.

“It’s been great,” she said, “They’re obviously super supportive.” And she added that having worked with such a company has also strengthened her work.

“Every job that I do, I’m always thinking ‘How can this be better and bigger?’ And ‘How can I make this the best that I possibly can?’ for sure,” she said. “But I think that it’s like anything, the more you do it, the better you get.”

Lehman said it is “validating” being able to work in the US, but said she would have shot it the same way in Australia.

“It’s nice shooting in America, it’s validating and that’s exciting,” she said. “It definitely opens up the opportunity, on a personal level, for me to continue to get employment. But in terms of actually shooting it, it would be the same process and the same amount of preparation.”

In 2019, Lehmann even won a YouTube Streamy Award for directing “Two Sides”.

Make your career your own

Now that she’s working on the second season of “Two Sides” Lehmann said the best thing she ever did for her career was make it her own.

“Just do it yourself,” she advised other film makers. “Because that’s where the opportunity comes. I truly think that it just comes down to backing yourself and your vision and then working really hard to get in front of as many people as you possibly can.”

She also advised in the beginning of your career to work within your means.

“When I made ‘The Out There’, I made the first season and I self-financed it and I hired my friends and I shot it in my apartment because that’s all I had. So it’s really using those limited resources that you have and making them positive.”

And while her Snap series is her main priority, Lehmann said she has other projects in the pipeline including a half-hour series.

“I really like working across any medium I can, be it a short series on Snap, be it a Facebook Watch show, be it a traditional half hour series, be it a feature film.

“I just want to tell great stories.”

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