Margie Moreno, Head of LatAm Originals at YouTube; and Arturo Yépez, CEO of Touché Films, spoke to TTV Digital Preview about the creation of the original 5-episode fiction series, available as of September 2 on the YouTube channel.
On Tuesday, September 2, YouTube Originals and Touché Films, the production company behind Enchufe.tv, one of the most important comedy channels in Latin America, launched Mortal Glitch, a fantasy and humor series of five 30-minute episodes, full of excitement and adventure.
In dialogue with TTV Digital Preview, Margie Moreno, Head of LatAm Originals for YouTube, and Arturo Yépez, CEO of Touché Films, shared details of the creation of the first YouTube Originals production in Ecuador, starring Antonella Valeriano, Orlando Herrera and Diego Ulloa.
As an introduction, how did Enchufe.tv and Touché Films come about?
Arturo Yépez (AY): Touché Films was born nine years ago from four youngsters recently graduated from Film School who wanted to create different content. In Latin America we have positioned ourselves as producers of auteur cinema, that festival cinema, very niche; and not as producers of entertainment, especially humor.
They worked on the Enchufe.tv project, a series of sketches, and presented it to all the TV channels in Ecuador and, one by one, they rejected the project. And they found on YouTube that opportunity to generate content without anyone telling them how to do it and with a very own and local idea, telling those stories as we young people in Latin America speak.
Enchufe.tv began to grow rapidly on YouTube, a platform that allowed content to be processed and monetized in order to reinvest in it. A very close relationship is generated with YouTube, which takes great care of its creators at the moment that Enchufe.tv becomes an important channel with an important community.
There was always the idea of making a movie. In 2015, work began on the project of the feature film Dedicada a mi ex, which was filmed in 2017 and premiered in 2019 in Latin America. This is Enchufe.tv’s first premium product. And at that point, Enchufe.tv begins an approach with YouTube Originals.
How many subscribers does Enchufe.tv have today?
AY: There are 23.4 million as of today.
How did the Mortal Glitch project come about?
AY: The director and creator of Mortal Glitch is Christian Moya, one of the founders of Touché Films and a fan of video games. He was one of the sketch directors, very close to the creative area. And he proposes something with the spirit that Touché always had to break with what we were doing. Work began on this idea of the universe of video games, where a secondary character comes to life and goes against his programming to search for something else, in the universe of 16-bit video games. I think it is a metaphor for what a teenagers experience in today’s world.
How does this project get to YouTube Originals?
Margie Moreno (MM): We began to have conversations with Enchufe, which we already knew as a great channel on YouTube, when they proposed the Mortal Glitch project to us under the idea of taking the universe of video games from the vision of someone who loves video games 90’s and create it with a different perspective.
From the YouTube Originals side, it allowed us to do an interesting new project with creators who are loved on YouTube and who have never been presented in this way to their fans. I’m talking about a great production, with great sets and great visual effects, but based on the strength of Enchufe.tv, which is comedy.
What we are always looking for is how to take an idea born from the creative talent of the region and that speaks for the region, but that also allows it to grow towards an international audience. We are very excited about the concept and decided to invest as partners in the development of Enchufe and Touché project.
The series has a very interesting visual component. How was the production process and, in particular, the post-production process?
AY: Ecuador is a diverse country, with amazing landscapes and we had the technical and artistic capacity to conceive what was being proposed on paper. The project closed at the beginning of 2019 and we filmed in November and December and some scenes in January of this year. We started post-production just two weeks before the pandemic hits and locks us all in, and we entered this process of doing the post remotely.
Two elements that were fundamental in the story and that there is not yet a large capacity installed in Ecuador, is that of visual effects and risk scenes. We found the 3DAR company in Argentina with whom we made the visuals and the Rolling Stunts company in Colombia who sent the professionals for the stunts. It was a collaborative process where it was always essential that the creative part be born in Ecuador, relying on the technique, knowledge and experience of these companies.
Is the cast Ecuadorian or is there also participation from countries in the region?
AY: The majority of the talent is Ecuadorian. We have three cameos from youtubers in which 2 are international and the other is a gamer from Ecuador called Raptor Gamer, but the talent is Ecuadorian. The base of the audience connects with the faces of Enchufe.tv. We also did a nationwide casting looking for theater, TV and film actors. The protagonist Antonella Valeriano comes from cinema and theater. It was a very long and meticulous process to find the actors.
How many talents are participating on screen?
AY: There are about 35 actors who have lines in the series and about 250 extras who participated in the massive scenes of the series.
The launch will be on September 2. In what modalities will it be available on YouTube?
MM: Last year we started with a new distribution model. We were making things available for free to anyone with access to YouTube, under an advertising model: 2 billion subscribers worldwide with access to YouTube Originals content. As for the launch, if you are a YouTube Premium subscriber, you can watch all the episodes on the same launch day, September 2. Otherwise, you can wait for the release of each episode on Tuesdays.
What stories does YouTube Originals seek to develop in Latin America?
MM: We are obviously looking to make the region grow. The type of content we are looking for is that the concept is relevant to audiences. It can be scripted, it can be a documentary or a short format. One of the unique things about YouTube Originals is that there is no definition.
We can do content like the one we did with Justin Bieber a few weeks ago, where we have 5 or 10 minute episodes. There is no standard for how we distribute content. At the same time, we can create an event like we did in Mexico with Isolated. It can be a unique event to talk about topics that are relevant to the region and tell it from a special perspective.
The two most important things about YouTube Originals is that we are looking for voices that tell unique and new stories, but with the flexibility to do so in different ways, especially when it comes from the talent available in Latin America. I believe that it is an incredible opportunity for the type of content that you want to create in the region and make it available to larger audiences.
How has Mortal Glitch been promoted at the launch?
AY: We have done an interesting campaign together with YouTube. We did the launch of a promo, then we released the trailer that tells a little more about the story and the tone, and we made a real adventure game within the virtual world, where we put several tests to the audience so that they could get to know the elements and the story’s characters.
How has the feedback been to date?
AY: It’s really funny because Enchufe.tv’s audience is extremely frontal. When we launched the promo there were comments like: Is it a movie? A series? Much curiosity and conversation. It’s really nice to see how people start to respond to the quality of the trailer. There has been a very nice reaction.
What other fiction projects does Touché have in development?
AY: In 2019, we set up a development area and set ourselves the goal of generating IPs and projects for premium series and movies. After the premiere of Mortal Glitch we will announce a couple of projects that are already closing with other platforms. It has been an interesting year. We have managed to draw attention to what we can do.
How do you see Latin America and its ability to satisfy the demand for glocal content by big players like YouTube?
MM: It is a very exciting time. Those of us working in the region know the incredible talent that is available and the quality of content that can be developed. Now there are more platforms that are investing in the region, not only focusing their content strategy, but also opening offices that are allowing local content to grow in the territory and how to make it grow in the international market. As Arturo said: before Latin America was known for its films; It is now recognized for having a business model with all types of content and that grows in all markets. Now the little creators are having their chance.
What is the strategy to discover those creators?
MM: We are very lucky because YouTube has offices throughout Latin America. We have what we call Partner Managers who work with local talent, channels and media that we talk to on a daily basis. They bring us ideas based on the conversations they have in the region. It is very important to know what kind of stories are relevant in the region. That is an advantage YouTube has over other companies. And at the same time, like other traditional platforms, they send me projects from all over Latin America.
What other local projects is YouTube Originals developing?
MM: We have a new project that we are going to announce in about three weeks. More recently, we made the documentary Isolated, which was made in the middle of the quarantine, from the perspective of different Latin American content creators who live in different countries of the world. We work with music artists like Maluma. Those are some examples.