“Geek & Sundry Vloggers: How YouTube Has Changed My Life” Panel at Stan Lee’s Comikaze
Last week, a panel discussion at Stan Lee’s Comikaze in Los Angeles considered how YouTube has changed the lives of some vloggers. “Geek & Sundry Vloggers: How YouTube Has Changed My Life” featured April Salud, Omar Najam, Mia Resella, James Brent Isaacs, Becca Canote, and Amy Dallen. The first thing that I noticed about this panel discussion was that it was a younger panel than others I have attended, with what seemed to be mostly 20-somethings, while other panels often had middle-aged folks, which is perhaps being due to those who would be more inclined to making a living off of vlogging on YouTube being younger people more willing to take such risks. Another thing that caught my attention was that there did not seem to be a moderator, but the panelists seemed to know each other well enough that it didn’t matter.
When I arrived to listen the panel (which was ten minutes late, having stayed to chat with speakers from a previous panel), I was looking forward to hearing how vlogging on YouTube has changed the life of some geeks. Well, apparently geek and sundry vloggers is not a description, per se, but, rather, a commercial YouTube channel.
Perhaps it was on account of my having arrived ten minutes late, but I really hadn’t known what was special about Geek & Sundry that made it special, content-wise or otherwise. Nevertheless, it was still interesting to hear from young folks discussing how it has had a positive effect on them who are able to make a living out of leveraging this medium. It seems that, as Canote pointed out that she gets to post a vlog every two weeks for work and that she “now works for YouTube! YouTube is now my career”, which clearly seems to be working out for her.
After the panel had some opening statements, they then broke into an open Question-and-Answer session. An early question centered around the Geek Bubble and its potential for bursting insofar as their geek vlogging goes. Najam said, “The geek bubble can seem like there’s so much going on now; what I like about this era of the Internet is that I think there is definitely something where it is getting kind of crowded in geekdom.” However, said Resella, “The oversaturation thing can kind of help us that there’s a lot of commentary, although that, too, can give way to a lot of saturation, but it’s also a lot of opportunity for original content. I think we can use the oversaturation to our advantage.”
The conversation then moved into discussing topics of geekdom, continuing along the geek bubble theme. “The superhero bubble might pop,” said Dallen, “but the comic book adaptation buble won’t. I’m into enjoying that until it lasts.” “It’s like zombie movie bubble,” added Canote.
Moving on into the digital medium, Canote said that “The big studios want to be in the digital space.” “As an actor, it used to be that you do a bunch of commercials, then a line on a TV show, then more lines, then a recurring role, and more,” said Isaacs, “but, with YouTube, you can make it yourself” and get great exposure. Indeed, “social media can work as a calling card” of your work. “When you make a film, there’s a bunch of people who see it,” said Najam, “whereas with YouTube or new media, we get to hang out and meet new people. it’s great to meet meet new people with new media.” Another thing that Isaacs pointed out was that “we’re starting to see more sponsored content” in this medium.
Upon the topic of non-white ethnicities, Najam said, “We’re starting to see more people of color represented and LGBT stuff.” “Digital media and YouTube is like this prophetic thing,” said Resella, “you might see things first there, then on traditional media.” This prompted a follow-up question about where YouTube and vlogging will be in the next ten years, to which Salud said, “It’s so hard to predict what’s going to happen in the next six months, let alone in the next ten years.”
As to using social medium, “Sometimes you receive a tweet and gives you so much encouragement,” said Isaacs. “I love that instant response.” Indeed, said Resella, “It is so awesome for us to be able to talk to people. We put so many hours into a 5-minute video and the interactions we receive encourage us.”