Smart’s very first web series is the romance Find Her

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A SCENE from Find Her

SMART Communications Inc. has finally ventured into the realm of web series as it introduces Find Her, a seven-part miniseries about the role of technology in romance, which drops its first episodes on Feb. 9 on Smart’s YouTube channel.

“We’ve very proud to offer Find Her… because it’s groundbreaking and unique,” Andrew L. Santos, PLDT-Smart First Vice-President for consumer marketing, said during the launch on Feb. 6 at the cinemas of Century City Mall in Makati City.

“Instead of doing the usual two minute viral video, we decided that it’s really important to give the viewers what we think they like and if you look at the audience nowadays, they really like to binge watch [and so] we came up with something that is really beautifully crafted,” he said.

The series is directed by Victor Kaiba Villanueva who is best known for helming the Cebuano film Patay na si Hesus (2016), a dark comedy road trip film which won the Audience Choice Award at the 2016 Quezon City International Film Festival and the Jury Prize at the 2017 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

“[Find Her] was partly inspired by Your Name because I’m a bit of a fan of anime (Japanese animation) and I also wanted to do a sort of mature kind of romance [about people] in their 20s because that’s where I’m at right now in my life,” Mr. Villanueva said during the event.

Your Name or Kimi No Na Wa is a 2016 animated film by Makoto Shinkai about two high school students who embark on a quest to meet each other after they magically swap bodies.

Using the same theme of parallel worlds, Find Her follows three individuals — Lia (played by Bea Ruaro), Aika (Dionne Monsanto) and Gabe (Vance Larena) — as they each try to find out if love can be found online.

As this is his first digital project, Mr. Villanueva his challenge was to do the episodes in the way that they are still engaging despite the shorter running time. Each of the seven episodes is about 12 minutes long.

“I was particular with shortening the dialogue,” he said before explaining that unlike full-length features where he is given time to set up the scene and pour minutes into creating nuance, the web series format challenged him to tell the story quicker yet still be able to engage the audience.

Based on the first three episodes that the media previewed during the launch, it is a well-crafted and snappily paced mini series that elicited kilig (romantic excitement) from several members of the audience along with curiosity as the preview ended with a cliffhanger.

Because this is a Valentine’s Day offering, Mr. Santos said they made the decision to launch the first five episodes on Feb. 9 and the last two episodes on Feb. 14. This was done to let the audience know “the characters more” and so “they can get a feel of the story” but “the climax should be on Valentine’s Day.”

Find Her is the first in a line of web series created by Smart called “PLDT-Smart STORIES” though Mr. Santos was mum about the details of the other projects. He said that they are currently not shooting another series but are looking at other concepts to produce in the near future.

Find Her premieres its first five episodes on Feb. 9 on the Smart Communications YouTube Channel and will be followed by the last two episodes on Feb. 14.

Smart Communications is the wireless subsidiary of PLDT Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Zsarlene B. Chua