Here are some lessons learnt and observations I’ve made from 14 years of uploading videos to YouTube and making YouTube videos (there’s a distinction between posting videos to YouTube and making videos for YouTube):
To make videos for YouTube you must acknowledge the audience.
A YouTube video is the start of a conversation – a conversation between the filmmaker/ videographer and the audience.
This is one of the distinctions between YouTube and other video sharing platforms such as Vimeo which act as passive showcases.
This dynamic breaks down the hierarchies of filmmaker and audience – it is a peer-to-peer form of communication. It is democratic.
There are fewer barriers to access than conventional filmmaking – all you need is a digital image capturing device and an internet connection. If you have a smartphone, or access to a smartphone you have everything you need to plan, shoot, edit, distribute and promote your films.
YouTube is its own Film School. There are a plethora of tutorials demonstrating every step of the process. You can frequently see the progression of novice filmmakers from single take videos shot on their phones to accomplished cinematographers. This is not the death of the expert it’s the democratisation of expertise.
Institutions have no role or influence.
Academia has largely overlooked or failed to recognise YouTube as an artform and the evolution it represents in filmmaking (Discuss. Film-maker Casey Neistat here succinctly states his view on this subject).
There are no gatekeepers. No submission process. No set format. It is regulated by an algorithm.
There are no selection committees and Awards panels.
There are no entry fees.
Many of the celebrated avant-garde filmmakers of the past, if they were starting today, would not emerge from the Universities, film festivals, or galleries, but would be working on YouTube.
There’s far more that could be added to this list. I’d love to hear your thoughts.