TikTok has long outgrown its novelty status—no longer just a pleasant distraction and a way to spend a few minutes scrolling on your phone, it’s been embraced as the platform of choice by many original content creators, whose work now defines new trends in film production, animation, and advertising.
As a platform fostering creativity and engaging storytelling, TikTok is a perfect match for Papaya Young Creators—which is why this year we’re unveiling two new subcategories developed in collaboration with the social network: TikTok Branded Stories and TikTok Unique Stories. Contestants will now have the opportunity to push TikTok’s envelope as an entertainment platform by creating original interpretations of themes outlined in our creative starters. The submissions can include anything from ideas for commercials taking advantage of TikTok’s media space (TikTok Branded Stories subcategory) to standalone films taking on the subject of diversity and inclusivity (TikTok Unique Stories).
TikTok is the perfect venue for creative expression. Although only a few years old, the app has managed to become one of the most popular online destinations, noting staggering growth along the way. We don’t need to read mainstream media recaps to realize that TikTok is everywhere nowadays—Netflix has an original reality show about popular TikTokers, while videos published on the platform have prompted wide-ranging, fierce discussions around modern communication and video content in general. Aside from popular celebrities and influencers, TikTok is also home to a number of innovative filmmakers and content creators. Their highly original solutions, often rudimentary or minimalist in nature, produce remarkable effects, worthy of big budget productions. We compiled a short of list of TikTokers that we subjectively believe to be one of the most inspiring creators on the platform:
How do you shoot a professional product commercial, but for the pure joy of creating? How do you make it look like a genuine TV ad or footage straight off a brand’s official channel? Well, meet Jona Daniel, a filmmaker using a digital camera, a miniature studio, and a range of simple but highly creative tricks to elevate DIY production to a whole new level. His work is incredibly impressive—particularly when we first peek behind the scenes of his productions and then see the end result of these elaborate efforts. His “fake ads,” which, to be quite honest, bear a striking resemblance to what the real thing actually looks like, may be a great source of inspiration to many aspiring filmmakers.
For Karen Cheng, followed on TikTok by nearly 880,000 users, there is no such thing as the impossible. Although nowadays she mostly promotes professional products and software, and occasionally high-fives Mark Zuckerberg in the Metaverse, her cinematography tutorials and DIY tricks for amateur filmmakers definitely helped TikTok grow into the giant it is today. Where drones were unfeasible, Karen used fishing rods. Instead of pro cranes and programmable jibs, she mounted her cameras on simple mop handles, drawing praise from none other than Will Smith himself. Cheng also developed her own take on the “bullet time” effect made famous by The Matrix, and devised ingenious shots using dental floss and tape measures. Given her portfolio, we could easily say that Karen is one of the most creative filmmakers out there.
Julian first burst onto the international stage in the summer of 2020, after he uploaded his soon-to-be-viral clip that featured him dressing up as his favorite characters from pop culture’s most popular franchises. The twenty-year-old theater student soon made headlines, and media outlets began calling him the “King of Edits” and lauded his abilities in the field of VFX. With shout-outs from household names such as Zach Braff and Mark Hamill, Bass eventually caught the attention of Disney executive Bob Iger, who told the TikToker “The world’s gonna know your name!” And indeed, it does—today, the Spider-Man-loving TikTok star has almost 1.7M followers, numerous sponsorship and content deals, and a long list of guest appearances on shows sharing his filmmaking tricks.
A content creator from New York City, whose breathtaking career kicked off on TikTok. Like Jona Daniel, Grace is best known for her incredibly creative approach to product advertising. Her commercial series, which has managed to garner over 50M views since its launch in June 2020, is a veritable gold mine of know-how and ideas. In her videos, the TikToker demonstrates that even the most complex-looking shots can be broken down into smaller parts that are easier to tackle. According to Grace, with clever tricks, creative ideas, and a camera or a high-grade phone camera with slow-motion features, you can shoot basically anything. On TikTok, creativity knows no bounds.
Kevin has made a name for himself as the guy turning into balloons, pumpkins, and snowballs. His TikToks show him bouncing balls through a computer monitor, walking through mirrors, stretching his limbs to their limit, and breathing life into LEGO bricks. Although seeming the work of magic at first glance, his feats are anything but, even though Kevins does indeed call himself a “video wizard.” His content is the product of creativity, humor, and lots of patience. He’s also great at video editing, really handy with a green screen, and a master of stop-motion animation. And, most importantly, he’s proven himself a capable teacher, always explaining his process from beginning to end result. To be honest, that’s what makes him different from all the magicians out there—every TikTok user is invited to look behind the curtain.
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