For husband and wife Toni Yammine and Maya Zankoul not a moment is wasted when it comes to expending their creativity energy. In 2013 they launched their production company Wezank which creates animated ‘explainer’ videos and now they have just launched their YouTube channel Beirut+ TV.
About Beirut Plus TV
A satirical look at Lebanese news Zankoul describes the new channel, which publishes a three minute or less animation every Wednesday, as “an entertainment project first and foremost,” mimicking morning shows to evening chat shows, and songs. “anything you can watch on TV, from news to morning or evening shows, songs, and others, all in a cynical style, since the aim of the project is entertainment first and foremost”.
With characters inspired by Lebanese culture the videos are promoted through Facebook, with characters like ‘Vanessa’ in her changing room talking about the show. For Zankoul the hope is that Beirut+’s characters will become a part of pop culture in Lebanon, characters with which the audiencea can connect and interact.
The idea of creating an online animated series started two years ago. “We wanted to work on 20-minute-long episodes,” says Zankoul. “However, after studying the Lebanese market, and given the high production cost, we decided to go for short 2 or 3-minute episodes.”
The couple finance the project themselves and so far doesn’t look to make a profit. Their pair prefer not to monetize the project for the time being, but rather to focus on the value of the content and on the production of fun episodes for the audience. Yammine explains that “funding might put us under pressure or force us to compromise our content or views.” He does see though that ads are a potential option for the future.
Speaking of the challenges imposed by the incredibly slow internet service in Lebanon, hand in hand with the small population [small audience], both Zankoul and Yammine asserted that failure is not something they’re worried about. Zankoul believes that the slow internet doesn’t stop viewers from watching a 2-minute video, adding that Beirut+ addresses the Lebanese both in Lebanon and abroad. When it comes to promoting the content to non-Lebanese, the cofounders said that it is unlikely. However, English subtitles are already available, and French subtitling will be made available in the future. “As long as we’re offering interesting content, we can reach everyone,” says Yammine.
The company produces animated and infographic videos. “There was a big demand and need manifested by companies for this type of ads, so we gathered our talents, me as a graphic designer and Tony as a TV commercials producer in a new company that specializes in infographic and animated videos,” says Zankoul.
“People don’t like to read today. Videos can make complicated ideas more simple in one minute,” adds Yammine, assuring that on the internet, the future belongs to video.
The company has produced many videos for local and international companies such as the Bank of Lebanon, the World Bank, Ounousa.com, and others. It’s also currently working on thirty videos for Nestlé in the UAE.