Please Subscribe is a new documentary that seeks to answer the question "What does it mean to be a YouTuber?" The film takes an intimate look into the lives of eight successful YouTubers to see what drives them, where they've come from and where they're going. Director Dan Dobi, a YouTuber himself, answers some questions about making the film, what makes a successful video and gives some advice to prospective YouTube filmmakers.
How did you come up with the idea for the project?
I was doing my own YouTube videos for fun and I realized there was this whole community that was doing it too. I started meeting people who had seen my work and then I would see their work and suddenly I had access to this underground community. It was almost like a secret society. I wanted to make the film to educate people and let them know that this is a legitimate thing that people are making money off of and that it can be a career.
Did the fact that you'd made YouTube videos in the past help you with the film?
A lot of the people told me they had been asked to be interviewed or be in films in the past and they didn't want to do it. When I asked people to be in the film, they were almost always like "No problem." They viewed me as one of their own. I'm kind of cut from the same cloth as them.
Is there any one shared characteristic that you think unites all "YouTubers?"
It's a mix but I think one thing a lot of these people share in common is that they are their own boss, their own brand and their own company. This is their life. If you take a month or two off in this business, you're gone. You have to stay on your grind. All these people are entrepreneurs and they're extremely hard workers.
Do people so used to being filmed act differently when the camera isn't rolling?
The majority of people have a "YouTube voice." You'll see them on camera and they'll be this wacky, witty, funny person. What you don't realize is that they wrote that. A lot of them do play it up for the camera. It's not like you go out to dinner with one of them and they're doing back-flips and jumping on the table. It's not a fake thing, but for the majority of them, their on-camera personas are just over-exaggerations of who they are.
Was it strange or surreal making a movie about people making movies?
I never really thought about that. It's almost like YouTube Inception I guess. It was never surreal. I just always felt it was cool this was happening and was happy to be a part of it. I think a lot of people just thought this was a project that was going to end up on YouTube and now it's going to be in theaters. That part of if it is surreal, to know how big this has gotten.
Is there a secret or trick to making a successful video?
There's no handbook. There's no formula. It's different for everyone. You never know what's going to hit. In my opinion, if you want to be successful, you have to do something you love. If you think something's funny, even if other people don't, do it. There's an audience for everything. Just don't make a video that's over 10 minutes.
How important is it for YouTubers to stay in contact with their audience?
It's very important. That's why people like YouTube - because the can leave comments and their voice means something. It's a social thing and people want to be engaged. I don't think anyone in my film did this, but some people actually hire people to tweet for them and respond to comments.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to start a YouTube channel?
Don't try to blend in. The reason why people are successful is because they are giving you something that you've never seen before. It might not work out in your first video. It might not work out with your first 100 hundred videos. It takes time to build an audience. Do something different that people aren't used to seeing and you're on your way to making a successful YouTube channel.
Check out the official trailer below....