‘A legitimate place for narrative storytelling’: How TikTok is becoming a new hub for Australian TV

‘Scattered’ co-creators Logan Mucha and Kate Darrigan
  • Screen Australia is funding a web series exclusively for TikTok, in a first for the funding body.
  • The series, called “Scattered”, was co-created by Logan Mucha and Kate Darrigan and begins filming in February.
  • TikTok Director of Content Partnerships Felicity McVay told Business Insider Australia, “We are seeing more and more series launching.”
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

There’s a new Australian web series coming to TikTok.

“Scattered” is the first web series exclusively for TikTok to get development and production funding from Screen Australia. It’s about three best friends who, after the funeral of their friend Wil, realise they’ve lost his ashes. Throughout the series the friends retrace their steps to find the ashes and give their friend the send-off he deserves.

The series was co-created and written by Logan Mucha and Kate Darrigan, together with fellow writer Adolfo Aranjuez. It’s produced by Hayley Adams and Michelle Melky, who previously produced TikTok series “Love Songs”, which racked up more than 2 million views and 2.5 million likes.

“We knew we wanted to make more content for TikTok, and Scattered felt like the right project for the platform,” Adams said in a statement. “TikTok is a filmmaker’s dream. You can really get your content seen by an audience that wants to see it.

“As Scattered is a queer series, we hope that its deeply personal narrative will resonate with the platform’s diverse audiences.”

The series consists of 38, one minute episodes, with filming to kick off in Melbourne in January. It joins a stream of short-form video productions such as ABC’s “Content” and Snapchat’s “Two Sides”.

Lee Naimo, Senior Online Investment Manager at Screen Australia, told Business Insider Australia they backed the team because of their compelling application.

“They really impressed us with a strong application,” he said. “I feel very confident this will be seen by a lot of people and will put these creators on the map in terms of being able to write, produce and market something that gets seen by a lot of people.”

Naimo’s team funds projects across a whole gamut of platforms, including Youtube, ABC ivew, SBS on Demand, Facebook and now TikTok. It focuses on where audiences are and on emerging talent.

“There’s definitely an interest in TikTok where there’s such a huge audience growth,” Naimo said. “You might not sit down to watch something that was 38 minutes in one long chunk but I think you can almost trick your brain into watching 38 episodes if they’re one minute long.”

Screen Australia is also open to seeing more Australians produce content for different types of platforms.

“I’d like to keep doing stuff on TikTok and YouTube and places where there are audiences and teams can demonstrate that they can find that audience.”

‘We are seeing more and more series launching’

TikTok opened a base in Australia in June this year, embarking on a massive hiring spree as the platform continues to grow in popularity. Some of the rising Australian stars of TikTok in 2020 include Sarah Magusara and Hannah Balanay.

Felicity McVay, Director of Content Partnerships at TikTok, told Business Insider Australia, “We are seeing more and more series launching” on TikTok. She mentioned projects like “Love Songs”, cross platform series “All Our Eggs” and the excitement of seeing “Scattered” come to life.

While TikTok isn’t involved in producing these series, it has been in contact with Screen Australia on ways to support local content production.

“Lee and I are in very regular conversation about what we can do together to help fuel the content industry,” McVay said.

Some of the advantages of using TikTok, according to McVay, is the ability to build an audience and have immediate access to them for feedback.

“Platforms like TikTok are becoming a legitimate place for narrative storytelling,” she said. “I think there’s been a significant shift in perception in recent years relating to online and mobile content. And just because content is mobile, online-only or online-first, doesn’t make it any less valuable, engaging or compelling.”

But like any medium, there are some challenges that come with making a series for TikTok.

“I’d argue that developing a story arc over a series of one minute episodes where everything is condensed – from character development to building suspense and drama that will keep audiences coming back for more – is more challenging in a micro format than it is in a longer form series.

“I think it’s a challenging creative discipline and we’re excited to be offering support to creators to help them develop creatively and professionally.”

At the end of the day, TikTok is just one of may ways creators can share their work.

“My advice to aspiring creatives would be that TikTok is just a wonderful playground to hone your craft, to develop your storytelling skills, your production skills [and] audience engagement,” McVay said. “It’s an amazing place to test and learn in real time.”

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