28 'Grams: Instagram serial thriller launches, 15 seconds at a time

Indie cinema is moving onto your phone with the new 28-part serial thriller "Shield 5," coming soon (in bite-sized chunks) to an Instagram feed near you.

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials
  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
2 min read

"Shield 5" is being promoted like a fully-fledged serialised thriller, despite its short episode length.

Lorton Entertainment

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 seconds if Instagram gets its way.

While Instagram might be home to fashion bloggers, fitness posers and celebrities offering a candid window into their #blessed daily lives, the social platform is now playing host to its own short film, with a 28-part thriller series directed by one of the Hollywood names behind "Hot Fuzz" and "Layer Cake."

Kicking off today, "Shield 5" will be "broadcast" on Instagram throughout February in a series of 15-second-long episodes. Following the story of a diamond heist and police pursuit in London, the first episode opens on our hero (or is it villain?) John Swift, who is wanted in connection with an armed robbery and murder.

Don't expect "War and Peace"-level exposition -- 15 seconds doesn't exactly give you long to dive into back story and paint a complex picture of friends-become-enemies, enemies-become-friends. But the format certainly does give creator and director Anthony Wilcox (who has a string of assistant director creditors on full-length films to his name) an opportunity to experiment in a tight timeline.

It's not the first time we've seen directors bring a new meaning to the term 'mini-series.' In 2013, the Tribeca Film Festival introduced a new category for Vine videos, giving filmmakers a tough brief to tell their story in six seconds, while the world's biggest short film festival Tropfest went even shorter in 2014 when it introduced a Vine category of its own.

While it might seem like a gimmick to try and make a serialised drama in 15-second bites, "Shield 5" certainly marks a new direction for creators on Instagram and another pivot in the social platform's relatively short lifespan.

What started as an avenue for photographers to share snaps with a wider community soon spawned a generation of Instagram models spruiking products in paid posts. Before long, Instagram introduced its own sponsored posts, giving brands a mainline into your photo feed. We can't help but wonder if "Shield 5" will now open the door on new ways for brands to deliver paid videos to your smartphone, all under the guise of fun, shareable episodic content.

Either way, the makers of "Shield 5" will be hoping their very own Serial will be a success. Alright Mr De Mille, I'm ready for my filter.