The Wide Shot: The producer taking TikTok storytelling to Hollywood
One can easily picture every short-form streaming video entrepreneur going into investor meetings with essentially the same pitch: “We are so not Quibi.”
The reasons for Quibi’s spectacular flame-out last year have been thoroughly analyzed. It overspent; it misread what people wanted from short video; it asked users to pay too much for what they could get for free on YouTube and TikTok; it didn’t listen to the audience.
Thirty-nine-year-old entrepreneur Prerna Gupta is trying to avoid those mistakes with her mobile reading and short-form video app company Hooked, which has an unusual and intriguing strategy for catering to the Gen Z audience.
The former Oklahoman and her husband, Parag Chordia, launched Hooked in 2015 with a mission to discover the next “Harry Potter” by testing stories with millions of users on its reading platform. Now they’re taking their best material and adapting it into short-form series and films tailored to a generation that has grown up bingeing videos on TikTok and Snapchat.
Last year, the company launched an app called Hooked TV to showcase video pilots based on scripts it managed to test and develop before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. A full Hooked streaming platform is expected to debut in the second half of this year with 12 original series, culled from 50 pilots tested through the app and on social media. Many of the videos are just a few minutes long, but others go up to 20 minutes.
“Our goal was always to be able to test scripts,” Gupta said. “The premise was that if we can build an audience for a script in written form, then by the time we’re investing money to produce it, we’ll have a much better idea if it will be a hit.”
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