‘Tweet’ is a teen horror series in the vein of classis R.L. Stein novels. In fact I would describe the series as being similar to those half hour television adaptations of the Goosebumps series that I used to enjoy as a kid.
Now, it’s been awhile since I watched one of those shows, or read any of his books. I’d wager that if I were to go back to them all but the very best of his novels would hold up to the scrutiny of my snobby adulthood. Tweet, similarly is not targeted at adults but seems to fit well for young teen audiences.
Taylor Blackwell gives a great performance as the fifteen year old ‘Fallon’ – a girl who is receiving psychic tweets through her broken iPhone 3 that she bought at a vintage store. Her acting would play well on a Disney channel series, and considering how seriously she seemed to take acting I’d like to see what she could do in a more dramatic role as well. You can also see her in the recently released ‘Dolphin Tale 2.’
In terms of execution ‘Tweet’ is more hit than miss, and definitely one of those series that made me see and consider some new ideas about web series production. I think the crew at See Worthy Films has something going here that just needs a little extra polish.
Visually the show feels like a sort of hybrid mix of Disney channel sitcom style, and something more dramatic. For the most part visually it is a Disney sitcom without the high key lighting and I’m not totally sure how I feel about it. The high key lighting of Disney shows gives them a professional look, just like the shallow depth of field and dramatic lighting gives dramas a more professional look. Here we have neither, yet the show tonally would not benefit from either.
I would recommend shooting with lenses that could more subtly throw the backgrounds out of focus. This would give the option of using deeper focus in brighter, happier scenes, and more shallow focus in the more scary, suspense filled scenes. Ultimately I think it would give the show a more polished professional look.
On a similar note the show would benefit from some improved packaging. By packaging I mean all the little things that accompany the show but aren’t really the show itself. What I’m referring to specifically are the graphics and the website. While the YouTube page itself is reasonably managed the first thing I noticed was the use of the Papyrus font in the logos and in the show. In the world of graphic design Papyrus is the brunt of many jokes, and is probably only surpassed by comic sans in overall derision.
That may sound petty, or nit-picky but these are the things that a lot of the general public isn’t aware of, but which many may realize subconsciously. A professional website and graphics are a requirement for people to take your production seriously. That is where you make your first impression on the web.
With a slightly more polished look visually, and some fancier, more professional packaging I think Tweet could really go places. It’s the type of show that would seem to strongly appeal to its niche of young teen and tween girls. Having that easily defined demographic is half the battle.
One area that ‘Tweet’ is particularly exemplary is in its use of old fashioned word of mouth promotion. Many of the shows viewers were found at the mall, at Starbucks, simply out in the public where the team behind Tweet simply struck up a conversation. It’s amazing how much more likely people are to check out your work when you connect with them personally. It’s probably the single most effective way you can promote yourself and yet so few people do it.
One thing I have never seen anyone do before I watched ‘Tweet’ is delay the release of future episodes until previous episodes reach a certain view count. It’s pretty brilliant really. One major issue with web series is that they are always available and always free. This method of holding future episodes hostage until earlier ones are given their due respect adds value to your show. More importantly it makes your real fans ‘pay’ for your series through promotion.
There are still three episodes to be released, but they are being held hostage until episodes six, seven and eight get a few hundred more views on them. So do the fans a favor and check them out. If you have a young teenage girl in the family, she just might like it, so spread the word!