Era of the showrunner, backbone of OTT content

By Yashika Mathur
New Delhi, July 5 (IANS)
OTT is booming, and like any boom has ushered its work culture. In turn, it has created new job profiles, too. A new role that assumes supreme importance in the digital space is the showrunner.
Put simply, he or she is the bridge between various creative heads, because OTT shows are sometimes handled by multiple directors (particularly in the case of anthology pieces), writers, as well as producers.
Explaining the role of a showrunner, Suparn Verma, co-director of popular web series “The Family Man 2”, explains: “The creation of shows on OTT platforms is a bit different from films and television. You have showrunners because multiple directors sometimes come on a show and direct various episodes. Sometimes two directors, including a showrunner, direct episodes with another director. A showrunner maintains a cohesive vision across the season. Sometimes a showrunner may never direct but he maintains the consistency of vision across seasons because shows are not limited in seasons.”
For instance, the recent Anthology “Ray” has Sayantan Mukherjee as the showrunner.
Director Srijit Mukherjee, who directed two of the four stories in the film, defines the role of a showrunner as: “A showrunner is like a creative producer. He takes creative calls and he is the unifying factor of the anthology in this case. He has the bird’s eye view of the anthology, bringing the four shorts together and deciding with the platform how each short should be.”
Various storytellers are credited as showrunners in digital content.
For instance, Alankrita Srivastava is the showrunner for “Bombay Begums”, while filmmaker Imtiaz Ali is the showrunner for “She”.
For Raveena Tandon’s upcoming digital debut “Aranyak”, has Rohan Sippy as showrunner.
How does having a showrunner make things easier?
“Having a showrunner is a great asset to the platform and team because there is one guy responsible for everything and he maintains the quality control and consistency across seasons,” says Verma.
The filmmaker adds: “A show for a platform is like making four feature films in one go. It’s about writing for four feature films and shooting four feature films, which is why platforms like Netflix, Amazon or Hotstar sometimes prefer more than one director for a show. Sometimes, the showrunner is also the director of the show but that again depends on their timelines and workload.”

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