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Thursday, 5 December 2013

How To Create A Successful Web Series: 5 Tips From The Eurobubble Creators

Yacine Kouhen and Charly Jourdan shared their tips at
the latest Sustainability Communications Lunch
Our latest Sustainability Communications Lunch guests, Eurobubble writer Yacine Kouhen and director Charlélie (Charly) Jourdan, have become something of a phenomenon over the past year - they’re the creators of the hugely popular Eurobubble series which made its debut earlier this year and has since gained popularity by depicting the rise of the Brussels-based Eurocrat. 

With its slick title sequence and deadpan acting, it’s easy to believe that the series required months to shoot and a healthy dose of media relations, funding and sponsorship.  The reality, in fact, is quite different: the entire series was shot in eight weekends with a budget of €6,000.  Yacine and Charly are adamant that with some creativity and an open mind, anything is possible.  Here are 5 of their top tips.

1/ Develop your idea
Eurobubble started off as a blog, written by Yacine during a stint as a policy officer and fuelled by his awareness that European institutions in Brussels were full of people that fit the same profile: over-educated, multilingual high-achievers with a degree in politics or law and experience travelling abroad.  When considering how to make the blog into a series, Yacine admits that he “didn’t even know how to hold a video camera, much less operate one” but director Charly did, and so began their collaboration.  Yacine and Charly both maintain that that the key to their success was having a great idea and the dedication to figure out the details along the way rather than putting obstacles in their path.

2/ Find experts for free through crowdsourcing
Eurobubble was a reality made possible by collaborative exchange.  “We had no money, but we put the word out that we wanted to do something and all of a sudden we had people volunteering their time to work with us,” says Yacine.  The technical term for this is crowdsourcing, which involves bringing together volunteers with particular talents in order to achieve a bigger goal.  It was through crowdsourcing that Yacine and Charly managed to shoot the entire Eurobubble series in only 8 weekends, thanks to the contributions of an army of talented people who were happy to give up their time to help.  “It was a great lesson for us in the power of volunteering,” says Charly.  

3/ Get noticed by using social media
The key to any successful video project is to experiment and see which social media tools work best depending on the goal.  The cornerstone of Yacine and Charly’s success has been their extensive use of social media.  YouTube played a huge role in reaching audiences - videos on the Eurobubble YouTube channel have had over 150,000 views.  While Eurobubble’s Twitter account (@TheEurobubble) has a healthy number of followers, it was Facebook that stands out as a great communications tool.  In addition to amassing volunteers for Eurobubble, a recent Facebook call for translators for their new Alternative European Elections campaign drew over 100 people and the video was translated into 12 languages in less than an hour.  Watch the evolution of the collaborative translation process here.

4/ Get funding through crowdfunding initiatives
Although Yacine and Charly didn’t start with an abundance of cash or sponsors, they didn’t let this hamper their progress.  Instead, they tried crowdfunding, an increasingly popular method of funding projects by gathering small contributions from many funders.  Yacine and Charly raised €6,000 from around 50 contributors which helped them get the project up and running.  Crowdfunding initiatives such as Ulele, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Rockethub and GoFundMe are some of the most popular options right now.

5/ Expand your network
Tying in with collaborative exchange, Yacine and Charly regularly return the favour by advising others on creative projects, which has helped them build a supportive network.  Having witnessed the power of the ‘virtuous circle’, Charly believes that money is worth next to nothing in comparison to the energy that people can bring.  He maintains that great things come from keeping a “we’re going to do this, and it’s going to be awesome” attitude.  For Charly and Yacine, this attitude has led to more recent support and sponsorship from some big names, including Alliance Française, Thon Hotels and Expats in Brussels.

Despite Eurobubble’s success, Charly and Yacine aren’t resting on their laurels and are already looking forward to new projects.  Their next project involves tapping into the potential of crowdsourcing once again, this time by inviting participants to send comment on rough storylines.  Once enough ideas and suggestions have been compiled, they’ll start on a new series.  “We’re basically saying ‘we want to do something – do you want to join us?’” says Charly.  If you’re interested, see how you can get involved.

Blog by Hayley Coristine, Communications Assistant at Brussels-based sustainability communications and PR agency Sustainability Consult

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