In theory YouTube would seem to offer everything for the avid indie film producer. Here are some statistics as way of an example:
- 2 billion page views a day
- The average person spends 15 minutes on YouTube a day
- 70% of YouTube’s traffic comes from outside the US
- Hundreds of millions of videos are watched on mobile devices each month
- 24 hours of video uploaded every minute
I could go on. Or not, as the case may be… So looking at the above we could all be suckered into thinking “Wow I can reach 2 billion possible viewers” Well, that’s right but what’s key to understanding why this is not useful or even possible is to pay more attention to the last figure, namely 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute.
Do you think you’re good, more specifically do you think you’re good enough to compete with 24 hours of new material every day? Perhaps I should be more prosaic about this – there is absolutely zero chance that your footage is ever likely to get watched amidst that sea of content. You might as well start playing the lottery, the odds are probably better.
Still not convinced? Let’s look at it another way, let’s assess what is successful on YouTube, let’s have a look at what the YouTube masses want to see:
The top video of all time is a video called “Charlie Bit My Finger” (205 Million views to date) a shit home video involving a baby biting his brother’s finger. Nail biting stuff there eh? Well, it would be if the child in question was actually old enough to have nails.
Let’s dig down a bit further, we have “The Sneezing Panda” (68 Million views to date) sixteen seconds of “comedy gold” the premise for which I reckon you can probably guess – “It’s a Panda! It sneezes!”
One more just to persuade you? Why not check out “THE ULTIMATE DRUNK PEOPLE COMPLIATION EVER!!!” (26 million views to date) Wow, drunk people fall over, move over David Attenborough, we can learn everything we need to know from YouTube.
So what is my point here?
If you consider yourself a film maker then you deserve better than YouTube. If you went to all the trouble of writing a novel you wouldn’t then have it bound in a cheap cover and sent to the local car boot sale to be used as firelighters. Have faith in your work, whatever you do it’s got to be better than a sneezing fucking Panda. It was probably faked anyway.
YouTube is a repository for all the video junk the world is willing to spew forth and this problem is only getting worse. Every device you buy now that can record video has an option to upload to YouTube, be it via WiFi, 3G or software installed on a PC with the device. Everyone is publishing video to it and inevitably nobody will be watching any of it. It’s a giant slag heap of trash – video trash and we should have no part of it.
If you believe in your content therefore, respect it and put it somewhere nice. Ignore the municipal video dump that is YouTube and post it on somewhere like Vimeo – a respectful community (remember those?) which deliberately restricts how much content you can upload per week to make you consider your material before posting it into the ether.
And as a final note quantity of views does not relate to quality – would you rather have 50 people watch your video and like it or 60,000 watch it and not say a thing? This is not a popularity contest, film making is inevitably a personal experience. We want to touch the people who are like us, who can relate to our human experience, that’s what makes it worth the effort. We can all do racist fart jokes (well maybe not) but surely the point is to raise the bar not lower it.
Go forth my friends and create, make something beautiful, crazy, mind bending, confusing, follow your imagination wherever it takes you. But please, no more fucking sneezing pandas…
Footnote: Whilst writing this I decided to sift through the random bits of video sitting in my YouTube account. Amusingly, my most popular video is something called “Bangkok Bike Race” an utterly random piece of video I posted whilst travelling in South East Asia to illustrate to a friend at home how there was a lot of motorcycles around. Still, it’s still managed to clock up almost 6,000 hits. It also rates as one of the dullest pieces of video I’ve every bothered to post on the Internet.
Here it is in all its glory. Don’t get too excited now…