The Satirical Office Comedy Made for TikTok 🤳

How a TikTok producer wrote a video series for A-list director Adam McKay

Good morning. Over the last four years, adventure creator Brent Underwood has documented his journey rebuilding a ghost town on YouTube. Now, he’s releasing a book chock-full of untold stories and the history of the town—and whether coincidental or not, preorders opened up just in time for Spooky Season.

TikTok Gets the Hollywood Treatment

John Connor Hammond (left), Will Higgins (second from left), and Emily Wilson (right) star in short-form office comedy “Cobell Energy,” a project directed and produced by Ari Cagan (right) / Studio 181, Ari Cagan

Director and producer Ari Cagan announced earlier this week that he’s making a scripted, vertical short-form video series on social media for Oscar-winning director Adam McKay.

The brief backstory:

  • Cagan started making YouTube videos in 2017 and last year became a full-time producer for TikTok media studio FazeWorld, where he makes shows like Keep the Meter Running and Clockwork Dynasty.

  • In 2021, Cagan released a podcast under McKay’s production company, HyperObject Industries.

  • This year, McKay asked Cagan to create a TikTok show for his non-profit media studio that would “get people to give a sh*t about climate change.”

Which brings us to now: Cagan is launching Cobell Energy, a 15-episode short-form comedy series about a family-owned oil company. The episodes, which run 1–4 minutes each, are set to release across TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram one episode at a time starting November 14.

“We’re at a point where people aren’t really watching television,” Cagan told us. “So we thought this would be an opportunity to not only share with the largest audience possible, but also bring a scripted narrative series to a place like TikTok.”

Which doesn’t happen often, since original scripted content is expensive to produce. “TikTok doesn’t pay a lot and most people don’t have that luxury of a crew and cast, so it’s hard to get [a scripted show] off the ground,” Cagan said.

Zoom out: A Hollywood A-lister like McKay investing heavily in short-form video brings back memories of Quibi, the startup that notoriously rose and fell in 2020 on a mission to make “snackable” short-form, Hollywood-quality video. The difference here, according to Cagan? He’s a TikTok-first producer, not a producer trying to learn TikTok.

YouTube Negotiates AI Music Tool with Record Labels

YouTube is trying to launch an AI program where video creators can replicate and manipulate the voices of popular music acts / Illustration by Moy Zhong

YouTube is planning to launch an AI-powered music tool that’ll let creators replicate famous voices in their own content—that is, if YouTube can convince music companies and their talent to get on board, according to Bloomberg.

Context: AI tools for creators have been hyped all year, but few have won over artists—which has led to a surge in copyright-related lawsuits.

YouTube’s plan to avoid that? Test its new tool with roughly a dozen top artists, who would consent to lending their voices in exchange for clear paths to attribution and monetization when creators use the artist’s voice.

Between the lines: YouTube is quietly the largest music streaming service in the world. Because of that, it might be well-positioned to strike a deal with music companies looking for new revenue as streaming growth slows.

The creator POV: Determining how musicians are compensated fairly for their work when AI enters the picture is TBD. Still, the potential that AI music tools could unlock almost feels boundless, science and tech creator Cleo Abram argued in a recent video.

“Lowering the amount of technical skill that you need to express your creativity is how we’ve gotten more great music throughout history,” Abram said.

Minecraft Creator Bids Farewell After a Decade on YouTube

Josh Garrett (left) concludes the end of his 10-year, 823-episode Minecraft series, Lovely World (right) / Stampy Cat

Minecraft creator Joseph Garrett voiced his character Stampy Cat for the last time on Saturday, thanking his 10+ million subs as he ended his 823-episode, decade-long run on YouTube.

Context: Garrett started his channel at the age of 20 and began uploading Minecraft playthrough and commentary videos in 2012.

“In a way, we’ve both grown up together in this place…I think it’s the right time to [say goodbye],” the creator explained, addressing his audience in the video.

Zoom out: Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time. A significant part of that growth and long-term relevance has been powered by veteran creators like Garrett and increasingly popular creators including Dream and HannahxxRose.

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