g The Film Panel Notetaker: Quit Your Day Job and Vlog: SXSW, 3/8/08 @ 10am.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quit Your Day Job and Vlog: SXSW, 3/8/08 @ 10am.


Everyone and their brother can shoot and upload a bunch of videos onto YouTube, but few have managed to pull off the feat of being able to irk a living from it. Where did they start, and did they start making money?

Each panelist introduced themselves, and as each panelist got their chance to speak, we were shown a video from their vlog.

Lisa Donovan had just started a production company, Zappin productions, with a partner, and were making corporate videos and presentations to pay off bills. Itching to do something more creative, they started creating videos and uploading them to YouTube in June of 2006. Within six months, she had been recruited to make an appearance on MadTV, and her vlogging career took off.

One of the first members accepted into YouTube's Partners Program, Donovan would not recommend starting a vlog on YouTube today. "It's too saturated," she advised the audience.

Zadi Diaz had a successful career in publishing and had done some theater when she broke into vlogging shooting the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, posting her videos to indymedia.org. Soon after, she moved to Los Angeles, and as a means of keeping in touch with family and friends back east, she launched JetSet, which eventually evolved into Epic-Fu.

Once they realized they were getting attention, Diaz and her partner decided to go for broke, and Diaz quit her well-established publishing job. It was a scary decision to make. "This is the future of media. It's now or never," they believed at the time. Recently, they found themselves in Berlin on behalf of the British Council.

Bre Pettis was an art teacher who made a video of people saying "I Love You", with the intention of selling the video to art collectors at a premium price. When that didn't pan out, he posted it on the internet, and along with a video of him touring his apartment, elicited a major internet response. Pettis' "I Love You" video recieved 40,000 hits when it was first posted in 2004.

Make Magazine eventually recruited Pettis to make some vlogs at their convention. "If you want me to come down, you gotta pay me!", he told them. They did. Initially doing most of the work himself, Pettis now has an editor, and does videos for Etsy.com.

Finally, Lindsay Campbell was a struggling actress in New York, temping at a Hedge Fund. When she finished her stint there, she decided to spend an entire month doing auditions with money she had saved, answering cattle call ads on Craigslist, among places. One of these ads was for Wallstrip.com, a financial news show. She was called back, was asked to do a "Man On The Street" interview, and was subsequently hired. Not too long ago, Wallstrip was picked up by CBS Interactive, and Campbell added a new hosting job to her resume, Moblogic.tv, which had literally launched the day before the panel.

All the panelists discussed the stigma that still surrounds entertainment made for the internet. One person told Lisa Donovan, "It's so sad you're going to stay on the web." Lindsay Campbell spoke about how many of her actor peers who want to do TV Work shun the internet, countering, "The internet is TV."

The vloggers offered practical advice for the would-be career vloggers in the audience: "If you want a video job, make a video people will want to see.", "Get a sense of good moments", own your IP, e-mail your videos to your heroes, and get critical feedback. Finally, and most importantly, Diaz said: "Start where you are." Most of the vloggers found their funding through corporate sponsors.

It was the first time all the panelists had met each other. Personally, I found the panel to be very informative, and it gave me ideas, as I am ready to take my own vlogging to the next level.

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