Tagged video

Why Producers Shouldn’t Ignore VidCon

When I bought tickets to my first VidCon last year, I was very excited. I had been interested in the online video revolution for quite a while and as a burgeoning video producer myself, I was convinced years ago this was the wave of the future of digital distribution and entertainment. However, when I’d eagerly tell friends and professional colleagues I would be attending, most hadn’t heard of it, didn’t think it was for them, or didn’t think it a credible or serious industry event. However, after only a few years, I could see that VidCon was quickly becoming the hub for online entertainment. So, with a Creator badge around my neck, I dove into something very new, vibrant, and innovative. After my experience last year, I knew I had to come back and I will be attending this year’s convention in Anaheim this June 23rd-25th. I feel that even “serious” independent video producers should not ignore what VidCon has to offer.

VidCon started as a fan convention founded by noteworthy YouTube celebrities Hank and John Green (Vlog Brothers). The first convention in 2010 had 1,400 attendees and an “industry day.” In 2016, more than 20,000 attendees are expected to attend and there are now separate Industry and Creator badges with their own content.

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As the convention has grown, so has its incredible offering of insightful panels and workshops. This year, Industry track attendees will have access to “22 master classes taught by top industry experts,” as well as the inside scoop on what’s new in the business of online video. The Creator track, which was started last year, acts as a video production school, teaching up-and-coming vloggers about cameras, lighting, and script writing, while improving the skills and knowledge of veteran producers with tips on branding, legal concerns, and expanding production. Creator track workshops and seminars are taught by YouTubers and online video producers which give you a look into online production workflow.

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I attended last year as a Creator and personally found a lot of the workshops to be fairly basic, having been to film school. However, these teenager to twenty-somethings were receiving a pretty comprehensive crash course in video production. With dedication to producing regular content, taking an iterative approach to their craft, and checking in yearly at VidCon to learn more and receive advice from other content creators, I could see that these young creators had the potential to outperform and outgrow the current media industry, without having to pay for a film school education! For me, and those of us who had experience with production, I found some great insight from attending Q&As of noteworthy creators. Other creators and I had the opportunity to ask questions about the process and received a transparent look into what it took to make videos like theirs.

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The entertainment industry has taken notice of VidCon. Many of the large media companies have digital or online production arms and many of them are setting up shop at the convention. The Hollywood Reporter even ran a story on VidCon in its 5th year stating, “VidCon Matures as Hollywood Descends.” The Reporter sees, “VidCon’s growth [as] symbolic of a larger shift in online video.” I’ve even written about brand collaboration and integration in online video, citing the development and success of YouTube channels like “Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” Influencer marketing, internet optimization, transmedia storytelling– these are the trends being developed and discussed at this convention.


As a content creator, I would highly recommend staying abreast of what’s happening at VidCon. When you stand in the convention hall, you can feel the pulse of innovative energy that will sustain new media growth. The information available from industry professionals, creative content producers, and interested fans is incredibly valuable. Be warned! A majority of attendees still are those tweenage fans of internet celebrities and a huge portion of the convention is dedicated to their enthusiasm and entertainment. (See inflatable fun zone below.)  But, the potential for networking in and learning about a powerful media sector shouldn’t be passed up. I got my tickets early and badges are currently sold out, but you can tune into the live stream. Plus, there’s always next year.

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I want to close with a quote from Hank Green, co-founder of VidCon, who revealed during 2014’s keynote speech a bit about the incredible momentum there is in online video creation. He said, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I have no idea. I don’t think that any of us know what we’re doing. There is a wave, and it’s made of technological things and sociological things, and it’s individual people making individual decisions about how they’re going to spend their individual time. And we are riding it. And that’s impressive. But it is not as impressive as understanding the wave.”

The wave originates at VidCon. Cowabunga.

A Beginner’s Guide to Brand Integration for Film and Video

Brands and advertisers are having a harder time than ever reaching consumers. DVRs are ubiquitous and the number of people who watch more than 6 seconds of the ad on YouTube are abysmally low. But a crisis for brands could mean a wealth of opportunity for content creators. Branded entertainment, sponsorship, and product placement are some of the best ways for youtubers to actually make a living from their content, and can help save budget or even raise money for an indie filmmaker.   But how do you go about talking to brands about your content? Here are some tips to help get you started.

  1. Look for Brand Alignment

If your movie is about a bicycle racer who gets injured and must rebuild his life to make his next big race, then maybe you’ll want to approach bike companies, sportswear companies, protein shake companies and the like would be great people to approach about sponsorship. Same basic sorts if you do a video blog about running.

  1. Start Small

It’s a lot easier to get a sponsorship deal from a small business than from a giant mega corporation. While the smaller companies won’t have the same budgets as the mega corps, but it’s a lot more likely you’ll be able to strike a deal in a lot shorter time frame. Additionally, the viewers and reach you’ll need to attract them will also be much smaller.

  1. Start Local

Try local companies first. Depending on where you live this could mean small businesses all the way up to relatively large corporations.  Given I live in San Francisco, there are no shortage of local companies to approach. Generally, the smaller companies won’t actually give you any money, but they can give you in kind donations. We’ve gotten coffee from Philz for our events, and other giveaways for our raffles from local companies.

  1. Know What You’re Asking for.

Make sure not to ask for something that there is no way the company can provide.  Don’t ask the mom and pop general store for 100,000 dollars, they don’t have it.  Maybe ask them to donate some sandwiches for a spot in the credits.  Approaching restaurants can be an excellent way to cut your budget as well, if a few restaurants do craft services at cost, then you’ve just provided a high quality meal for your crew for very little money.  Don’t think that product placement needs to have a dollar amount attached, in the indie world, any help makes you look better and more attractive to investors. And on that note… 

  1. Track the Value of your In Kind Donations

If you get local companies and brands to give you free or discounted stuff for your movie, figure out what the total value of the donation is and keep track of it. These costs add up, and when it comes time to approach investors you can claim you’ve raised that money in in kind donations. Having that money in the project lessens the risk for the investor and increases the value of the project. It also shows them that there is general support and interest from the filmmaking community.

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to fund your entire movie on product placement and sponsorship alone, but if you can get part of the budget through sponsorship and brand integration, you’ll be in a much better position than you otherwise would be.