Instagram Stories Bring TV to Your Phone

Filmmakers are always looking for the next medium. Once upon a time, it was TV, then it was web series and the internet, and now it seems like the industry is fracturing a thousand different ways, from VR to streaming services to the latest endeavor, Snap- and Instagram- stories. That’s right: if you haven’t heard of them before, you’ll soon be seeing them every time you open the apps.

The “story” element of each of these apps allows users to create videos that only last about 24 hours. Sometimes that means that your best friend records a message before she goes to bed that recaps the day, but more and more often media companies are latching onto this forum as a way to create short, episodic stories that are only available for a small amount of time. Not that the new medium doesn’t open up some unique challenges, because the shape of a phone is not the usual widescreen filmmakers are used to.

“It opens up this whole new visual language that the audience accepts,” said Kathleen Grace, CEO of New Form Digital. “You can have your wide shot on top of the split screen and your close-up in the bottom of the split screen and use that to drive the story and the comedy.” The apps also dictate that stories have to be split into 15 sec chunks, which, when done well, can punctuate comedy. When not handled with a fine glove, however, it can ruin the tone of a scene.

Producers are catching on, however, and marketers and ads are just figuring out how valuable these Stories can be as viewership skyrockets. Brands like McDonalds, MTV, and Sephora have already made deals with shows airing as stories, and we predict many more to follow. This could be an interesting new platform for marketing looking for a young audience!