Chhavi Mittal recently indulged in an interesting chat with us and shared some incredibly insightful responses to our questions about Shitty Ideas Trending and more.
Chhavi Mittal and Mohit Hussein, are both popular Indian soap stars and the duo took their love for entertaining the audiences a few steps ahead by becoming content producers and co-founding – Shitty Ideas Trending ( SIT) back in 2015. Feeling limited by the medium of TV and linear storytelling, the couple channeled their creativity by making video sketches and putting them up on Facebook. They also roped in their fellow TV actor friends who often switched hats between writing and acting in the videos, forming a true creator collective in the process.
Since then, Chhavi and Mohit, through their humourous and relatable take on relationships and life have managed to create a huge online community. While SIT touches upon topics that find a connect with the viewers, it is through regular FB Lives dedicated strictly to feedback Q&A’s that they manage to learn and evolve. Co-Founder, Chhavi Mittal recently indulged in an interesting chat with us and shared some incredibly insightful responses to our questions.
Here’s how the conversation went:
SIT is one of those who stepped into content production early on, in India (2015). How do you feel when you think back on the day SIT created its first piece of content?
“Creating the first piece of content for SIT was so liberating and addictive! It was like setting ourselves free and for the first time giving ourselves a voice that belonged to us. We did not actually know what we were getting into. The world of social media was so new to us; like unchartered territory. But looking back, we are so glad that we took that first step, because, in the process of creating fresh content every week, we not only ended up creating a new business model but ended up creating a new life for ourselves, where we have managed to touch so many other lives and made a difference to them.”
How would you say storytelling and content production have evolved over the last ~6 years?
“Storytelling is always evolving. In fact, it is not one method in play, it is many. It is different for everybody who is creating and who is consuming it. There are trends that become popular and with time one trend gives way to another. There are also various trends that dominate certain platforms but not the others. Besides, different platforms also continue to experiment with the formats that are popular. But most importantly content is personal. What kind of content you like can be very different from the kind of content your spouse/child/parent/roommate likes. Hence if the content that you create is good, chances are you will find an audience that consumes it. On SIT we continue to try and create stories that cater to our TG, while bringing in new characters, new storytelling techniques and new techniques to package the content too. With the rise in content creators, content production has also undergone a huge change. UGC has given way to simpler, newer, faster ways of content creation. On SIT, as we grow and as the audience grows, we upgrade the tools and equipment we use and continue to experiment.”
Do you think short format content is challenging producers to be more creative or does it hamper the art of storytelling?
“Short-form content is not for all kinds of audiences and hence it is not for all kinds of producers. On SIT our audiences demand long-form videos. When we started creating content, we created videos as short as 1.5 minutes. But on audience demand we have gone up to videos that are 15-18 minutes long and sometimes the audience demands them to be even longer. That is because SIT excels in the art of engaging storytelling, which is lost while creating short-form content. However, there is some amazing comedy content out there in the short form and SIT too creates it as complementing to the long-form videos. And yes, it is definitely challenging, considering the attention span of the audience that’s consuming the short-form content is even shorter.”
What are the parameters you focus on at SIT when creating content? Is the goal behind every video to create something that can go viral?
“That’s like making a hit film! It never works that way. The only thing we concentrate on creating is entertaining content that resonates with the maximum number of people. In all probability, if a viewer relates to what he watched, he will also end up sharing it. So half the battle is won if your viewer becomes the one helping the content reach out thereby making it viral. For that very reason, the idea is always to create something which the viewer can endorse, rather than something that he can enjoy but not be proud to share. Hence we stay away from edgy content which cries out in desperation to be viral. Most importantly, we try to create content which we ourselves are proud of. On social media, it also depends on what the current trends are, how active the platform itself is at the moment, and what the state of mind of the viewer is at the moment, which decides how viral the piece of content will be. So honesty is what we focus on at all times.”
Since 2015, SIT has managed to create quite a large community on Facebook. Where do you often interact with people to understand their feedback and inputs on the content you produce. How has the community-focused feature of Facebook helped you?
Facebook is our favourite platform when it comes to communicating with our followers. The live tool is what we often use and it works like magic. We directly ask our audience questions and they respond freely, and vice versa. Both of us are very active at reading the comments too and responding to constructive criticism appropriately. We also create a lot of shoulder content specially designed for the Facebook audience, like promos to the main videos, behind the scenes, blooper videos, memes etc. Even these short videos work really well for our audience and we see a definite dip in engagement when we reduce the frequency of these.“
“Having said this, we also resonate with the campaigns introduced by the platform to bring the communities together. One such example is Facebook’s ‘More Together’ campaign which focuses on the power of connections, that we are part of as it fits perfectly with SIT. For instance, SIT is a combined effort. Mohit thinks of ideas and scripts, he picks the topics that we incorporate, we bring in actors and all of us collaborate to put into execution the script which is on paper. I think of ways to market it and drive engagement and curiosity around it. We all do our bit of sharing to help the content reach out. We sit down and brainstorm at times and the whole process is so therapeutic.
How do you think, has the pandemic and the subsequent changes in everyday life affected content creation? What changes did SIT personally go through in its approach?
“Yes. The pandemic has made everybody evolve to their respective versions 2.0. Same with us. We have become more open to experimenting in order to keep the content frequency alive. The kind of content has also undergone a lot of changes. Many new creators came to life, shooting from their homes and finding new ideas for their content.”
What trends/changes do you foresee as content producers in a time where censorship has reached OTT platforms as well?
“We are hoping to see content creators become more responsible about the content they create and towards their audiences. It is important to realise the reason for the liberties that are taken while creating content rather than just keeping numbers and performance in mind. We are parents of two children and understand that with the current global scenario the content consumption for all age groups has gone up and viewer discretion is not always possible. “With great power comes great responsibility” and when the creator with whom the power resides fails to realise this, intervention is needed. At SIT we have always been careful about and sensitive towards our audiences.”