Hi. So I just watched a Casey Neistat video and it inspired me – nay, motivated me – to create something. I’ve been kicking around this idea of utilizing YouTube to kickstart or propel me along in my career (though what that career is, I don’t know).
In Casey Neistat’s video, he talks about how his lifelong dream was to be a filmmaker. He chased the traditional path that he believed was required to become a “proper” filmmaker – red carpets, awards, film festivals, names on posters – and ultimately discovered the beauty of the Internet in that the power of filmmaking and storytelling lies in the hands of everyone with access to a smartphone or computer. It’s a spectacular thing. And it makes me think about my own aspirations for my creative career.
I aspire not to be a filmmaker, but a “theatremaker” – someone who creates meaningful shows. There are perhaps similarities to filmmaking, though Neistat seems to emphasize storytelling through film and I don’t think theatre is always necessarily about storytelling. Theatre can also be about relationships and connections and it is overall much more deeply personal than film. So many shows have steered away from the proscenium approach and I think that speaks to how people are increasingly buying into the value of theatre not just as a pretty, entertaining show to see but as an experience evoking presence, mindfulness, and connection.
And I don’t really know what kind of theatre I want to make. Sure, I believe there is value in telling stories on stage. I think it would be really cool to tell stories with perhaps ordinary, linear plots in ways that are more avant-garde, postmodern, and experiential. For example, consider the story of Little Red Riding Hood. It’s simple, it’s a tale that most of us are familiar with, the plot flows and makes sense. But what if it was presented in a way that confronted the audience to not just observe the story, but actually be immersed in it? Maybe the audience walks through the theatre doors to stumble upon the corpse of an old woman mauled by a wild animal, blood and gore and all. Then perhaps the mortified audience continues walking only to find more and more scenes from the familiar story presented in a grim and grotesque light. That’s surely going to leave an impression on the audience member who was expecting a quiet night out to see a show that is satisfyingly average and then head home to bed. But in reality, it would be really hard to put on this kind of show by myself. I would have to develop the concept, design the scenes, create the sets, design the lighting and sound, and make sure the whole production has a tone consistent with my directorial vision. Furthermore, I’d have to obtain the space, funds, and team to create this.
So if Internet videos are the accessible form of filmmaking, what is the accessible form of theatremaking? Sure, many people post skits on the Internet or create webshows with characters. One of my favorites is Chris Fleming’s “Gayle” which has a wonderful way of breaking the 4th wall to establish a connection with the audience. Furthermore, Chris Fleming’s amazing humor always seems to draw me in and really make me think. So that’s kind of similar to theatre – it evokes presence and connection and the experience of watching it. So that’s one option: creating a webshow.
Another option would be writing short scripts and reading them on camera, or perhaps pseudo-acting them out on camera, or even bringing in friends to read parts of scripts. I feel like this format would do best with scripts that are humorous and comedic in nature. I’ve never tried to write comedy before, so that could be an interesting foray. This format might also work with scripts that are aggressively postmodern in addressing the audience (viewer) and prompting the viewer to really think and consider whatever topics are addressed. These videos could be more “artsy” with b-roll, filters, and background music. I don’t think this format would work with melodramatic scripts because I feel that melodramas heavily rely on the audience to invest in the story – emotionally or otherwise – and this wouldn’t work so well with Internet users who are clicking around for entertaining or interesting videos. So those are two more options for accessible theatremaking: reading or acting out comedic or postmodern scripts on camera.
Another option would be more “behind the scenes” in nature. For example, I might make videos of me pitching ideas for shows while showing sketches, concept art, inspirational images, or reading drafts. Additionally, I could make videos showing the process of me building or writing something. I could also make vlog-style videos showing my journey to become a “theatremaker”. I could use the vlog series to set creative and career goals and keep myself accountable for working towards achieving them.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I have stuck to the format of Internet/YouTube videos for all of these. Well, I think YouTube is a great platform because it allows you to create a huge amount of content and the more you put yourself out there, the more discoverable you become. When you have a wealth of content behind you, it lends credibility to you as a creator. By making videos I would work on improving my skills and my craft as a theatremaker which would help me in my career. Furthermore, YouTube has an existing audience which is incredibly motivating when it comes to content creation. And finally, YouTube videos can be monetized.
So these have all been some really interesting ideas, but what it ultimately comes down to is hard work. If I want to create anything, or if I want anything to come out of this, I have to put in the hard work to actually make this stuff happen. I don’t really want to commit to weekly YouTube videos, but I can try for monthly? I’d rather under-commit and then over-deliver than overcommit and under-deliver. So I’ll commit to do 3 videos… this year. Haha. I’ll keep you updated and edit this goal as I deem necessary….