If I were given the power to make rules about online video advertising, here’d be one of them: No pre-roll ad can be longer than, say, 20 percent of a video’s run-time. I do not have this power, though, and thus I am sad to say that of the four and a half minutes of video I watched this morning on Koldcast.tv, a minute and a half were dull and annoying Airwick commercials.
The other three minutes, however, weren’t that bad. Luck and the Virgin, currently running on Koldcast in English and on YouTube in English with Spanish subtitles, bills itself as a 60 second soap, though the model in this case isn’t a traditional American soap opera, but instead a Mexican telenovela — a decision heightened by the choice of location, Mexico. In the first three episodes, we meet Valentina (Whitney Moore), an American who, due to some incredibly efficient storytelling, is already in serious trouble thanks to a former boyfriend, a misplaced bag and a life story’s worth of mysteries.
Luck and the Virgin chooses to be sparing with details, especially those that might explain why Valentina is down in Mexico, and creative with its construction of the show’s time line, leaning heavily on flashbacks and flash-forwards. But rather than proving frustrating, this heightens the mystery — the end result is the sense of watching only the most important moments of a drama, and trying to puzzle out how they fit together. The time investment required here is low, but and worth the result.
Shot on location in Mexico and written, directed and edited by Jaime Byrd, the production values are great, with special note made of the cinematography, which is full of lush golden tones that fit the setting nicely, and the editing, which is brutally efficient in keeping each episode under its promised time length. On a technical level, its major flaw is the acting — because the scenes are so abbreviated, there’s not a lot of time to allow for subtlety in interactions between characters, but Valentina’s conversation with Mario (Juan C. Vincourt) in the first episode, just as one example, was almost painfully over-the-top in terms of flirtation. Carlos Sanagustin, as the straight-up evil drug lord Ricardo, was downright nuanced in comparison.
Back to the pre-roll issue: Believe me, I understand that there are very few established ways to generate any sort of revenue from a web video project. But at a certain point it becomes an issue of presentation, and sitting through so many prerolls has a definite negative effect on viewership.
In the case of Luck and the Virgin, where its entire structure is designed to be quick and light, it almost seems criminal to pad its length by a third for every episode. This is a situation where flexibility in terms of one’s business strategy is necessary — for both the sake of the show and its audience — especially if you don’t want your audience to watch on YouTube instead.
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