YouTube video creators in the spotlight at the Buffer Festival
Popular video-sharing site YouTube is shown in this undated image. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
Corinne Ton That, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, November 9, 2013 6:49PM EST
With the first ever Buffer Festival, YouTube video creators are given the chance to step out of the virtual world, and onto the big screen.
This weekend theatres across Toronto, including the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, Glenn Gould Studio, CN Tower Maple Leaf Theatre and Jane Mallett Theatre are showcasing the work of popular YouTubers.
Festival director Amy Davies said the event is “a celebration of YouTube in a theatrical setting.”
With works being shown in six theatres across the city, Davies said the festival is “really establishing YouTube as a viable medium and showcasing the type of creative content that’s on YouTube.”
Popular Toronto-based musician and YouTuber Andrew Huang, 29, showcased a range of music videos on Saturday, including a cover of Wham’s hit “Wake me up before you go-go.”
His channel, songstowearpantsto, has more than 120,000 subscribers.
Right now, Huang is focusing on producing original music, while working on a series called “song challenge.”
“That’s where I’ll come up with a musical challenge or take suggestions from any of my viewers and grab an idea that’s challenging that I could pull off musically,” he said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca.
Huang, who studied music at York University, works as a full-time YouTuber. “There’s definitely always something to be working on -- it’s definitely a 50-60 hour per week passion project.”
But he isn’t making a living just by posting videos on the video-sharing website.
“I think everyone who’s doing this full time is getting their income from not just YouTube, but things related to their whole brand,” he said.
Huang earns revenue from YouTube ads, but he has also released music on iTunes, Bandcamp, CDs and vinyl.
And for up-and-coming YouTube stars dreaming of make it big online, Huang says the most important thing is to focus on a specific goal.
“There are some people who are more in it for having fun, there are some people who are in it for making money, or for getting a lot of video views for reaching a certain type of audience, and there are people putting a certain message out into the world,” he said.
“So I think defining what’s important to you and why you want to be doing it, that’s more important than anything else.”
And in order to reach a large audience, San Francisco-based graphic designer and YouTuber Karen Kavett said creators should find unique ways to connect with their audiences.
“On the Internet, you’re commenting, you can share it, you can really feel like you know the person who’s making the video and that they’re talking directly to you even if you’re just one of a million subscribers,” she said. “That very human person-to-person connection where you actually see their face and hear their voice, I think that makes the most successful videos.”
Kavett began posting videos online in 2008. She has made a successful living by complementing her YouTube work with freelance graphic design and selling merchandise.
“I don’t have a regular day job, it’s all kind of centered around YouTube,” she said.
And for Kavett, attending the Buffer Festival allows her to connect with the YouTube community.
“Events like this are really nice because we get to together in one place and actually hang out in one place – it strengthens the friendship.”
Around 2,000 people had attended the event by Saturday, and Davies hopes to make the Buffer Festival, organized by ApprenticeA Productions and the Canadian Film Centre, an annual one.
“Our goal is to have this every year, and we already have plans to expand the festival,” Davies said.