YouTube, in recent times has been instrumental in creating waves with the kind of content that is being displayed on it day in and day out. And with every video giving birth to a new internet star or an epic fail, it was pleasantly surprising to see Filter Copy’s “Confusing Things Girlfriends Say” form a cult following within weeks of its upload. To top it all up, the team came up with a counter video “Annoying Things Boyfriends Do” and cracked the glass ceiling. Fresh from the success of their recent work, in a free-wheeling chat with the co-founder Ashwin Suresh and creative writer Kartik Krishnan, they divulge details about how they made the cut.
“An identity or relatability for an audience with a particular video is what makes people share stuff online. This kind of anecdotal or identifiable behaviour is what, according to me, made the recent couple of videos successful. And humour, of course! It is a continuous learning process,” remarks Kartik, the creative whiz behind the success. “Sharing is the highest form of endorsement on a social platform and the only way for something to propagate. Our goal is to increase the shares rather than the views which naturally increases the views. Take for instance, our video on football fans in India; it is a small group but a very vociferous and loyal audience. So, a handful of football fans have a higher probability of sharing the video. We’ve had hits and misses, but the reality is that we have to capture every relatable instance within the spectrum of any given video”, says Ashwin.
Obviously, success comes at a price and the road, rocky. “Money was one of the biggest challenges!”, exclaims Ashwin. “You can’t be too ambitious, but at the same time you have to be contained. You can’t fly off the roof. In some situations, the concept or strokes need to be re-written so that they’re within the frame we have”, he elaborates further. “Luckily we’ve been good with the cast and whatever is on paper gets translated well on-screen. So whatever we say should be funny, relatable and at the same time within the circumference. And the format fresh”, says Kartik. “One thing that we have to keep in mind always is that the digital audiences aren’t paying to watch you and they don’t owe you their time and so it becomes essential to have their attention from the word ‘go’ and how we retain it”, quips Ashwin.
“Another important thing we do is that we share the scripts with everyone so we have different perspectives and nobody is in love with their work. It is necessary that one is objective (about their work) and that’s how you grow. In fact, two-three ideas in the ‘Annoying Boyfriends’ video are from our executive producer. So everyone is open to give their suggestions and tell us what works and what doesn’t”, remarks Ashwin. With so many groups on the internet, it is only natural that the adage ‘You are as good as your last video’ applies to these guys. And as we prod them about the benchmark they’ve set for themselves, Ashwin says, “The reality is that we have different audiences for the different themes we touch upon and the base is only growing with each passing day and some of us are seeing our work for the first time”, says Ashwin. “Ultimately it is all about the quality of the work and it should not be affected and we make sure we work a little harder for the next one”, Kartik smiles.
“One good thing about an online medium, unlike film is that the response from the audience is instant and more direct. When a video doesn’t do well, we try to analyse what has gone wrong and try to use those mistakes constructively”, Ashwin says. Adding to that, Kartik quotes, “With a film, a release happens once a year which is a big creative sabbatical but with digital content it is a weekly thing. So if I put out a video on Friday, I have a Monday and Tuesday to understand what went wrong and what hit the bull’s eye. Also, virtual media is a very inexpensive medium. There’s not a lot of money at stake so it gives us the freedom to experiment with different concepts and ideas.”
From September 2015 to the current day, these guys have come a long way considering how much work they’ve put out in the past year. Along with Filter Copy, Ashwin also runs another brand called Dice Media under his banner Pocket Aces. “The audience can expect Filter Copy to experiment with genres like travel, food, music etc. and on Dice we’ve got 5-6 web-series lined up and we’ll greenlight one of those. The beauty of the internet is that it gives you the ability to reach out to several types of audience who are independent of each other but there will be an overlap in some cases. It is like television so I can safely say that we’re making an effort to be the next Viacom where you have a MTV and a Colors co-existing at the same time”, Ashwin says. For those who’ve made stereotypes look so cool, that’s a pretty heavy statement!