When I started writing about the streaming video space, I wasn't just impressed by the go-for-it, D.I.Y. spirit of the YouTube creators -- I was challenged. I was a professional journalist and a film school graduate. I thought, if they can do it, why can't I?
So I did.
I didn't wait for the right moment. I just did it, manning the camera while I conducted the interviews, hoping the final results had enough energy and excitement to compensate for whatever they might lack in slickness, 'cause that's the YouTube spirit.
Choppers vs. Drones: The Battle for Cinematic Air Supremacy
For decades, helicopters ruled the sky as Hollywood's go-to vehicle for capturing spectacular aerial shots. But in recent years they've been challenged by drones. Who's winning? I search for the answer in the video above, in which I visit the set of the CBS series "S.W.A.T." as they film an action sequence where star Shemar Moore hangs out the side of a helicopter, and get a demo from leading drone maker DJI.
Also check out the accompanying article I wrote for Variety.
Behind the Scenes at Lily Singh's 'A Trip to Unicorn Island' Premiere: YouTube Red's Big Coming Out Party
The premiere of YouTube star Lilly Singh's documentary “A Trip to Unicorn Island” at the TCL Chinese Theatre was more than just a celebration of the film's release. It signaled YouTube’s arrival in the show business mainstream, not just with its stars, but with its new subscription service YouTube Red.
To learn more, check out my feature in VideoInk .
One of the YouTube creators affecting this organic flowering of diversity in the social video space is Lilly Singh, whom I profiled as VideoInk's "Creator of the Year" for 2015.
The feature-length documentary “A Trip to Unicorn Island” -- about Singh's world tour last summer that took her to such far-flung locales such as India, Singapore and Trinidad -- was one of the first four original productions to premiere exclusively on YouTube Red, the video hosting giant's new subscription service.
How YouTuber Bryan Lanning Turned a Family Vlog into Pop Music Success
Bryan Lanning is not a typical pop star, nor a likely one. A married father of two small children, he would never be mistaken for a member of One Direction. Yet he’s managed to harness the success of his family vlog Daily Bumps (1.1M subscribers and 610M views on YouTube) to launch a pop music career.
Click here to read the entire article in VideoInk.
VidCon 2016 Explained
Did you miss out on VidCon 2016? Or do you have a mom, dad, aunt, uncle or grandma who just doesn't get what VidCon is about? Then this video is for you.
In an interview recorded at YouTube Space LA , Paige McKenzie and her on-screen/real-life mother Mercedes Rose talk about turning their YouTube series "The Haunting of Sunshine Girl" into a book, dealing with freaking fans, the differences between Paige and her character, and fear of wet paper vs. fear of E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial.
In this video, I explore the inspiration and strategy behind Scene@AwesomenessTV, a pop-up store in L.A.'s Fairfax District featuring fashions designed by YouTube stars such as Teala Dunn, Sawyer Hartman and Meg DeAngelis.
At the event, I also got AwesomenessTV co-founder Joe Davola to reveal how he inspired the "Seinfeld" character Crazy Joe Davola.
My video of the store opening was also used as the basis for an article by competing publication Tubefilter.
Anyone who witnessed the hordes of stampeding tween girls at VidCon 2014 knows there’s a growing hysteria for YouTube stars that the mainstream media has yet to recognize. For those who haven’t seen the phenomenon in person, I took my camera (and my own tween daughter/production assistant) to InTour 2014 at the Pasadena Convention Center on Sept. 13, 2014, and captured fans going gaga over YouTubers like Connor Franta, Ricky Dillon, Jc Caylen, Sam Tsui, JennXPenn and FreshBigMouf.
In the spring of 2014, I attended the shoot of the zombie reality competition series "Fight of the Living Dead" at the appropriately spooky Sybil Brand Institute, a now-shuttered women's jail where Manson Family member Susan Atkins confessed to a cellmate in 1969.
On the eve of the show's premiere on the new geek-friendly VOD service ConTV, I sat down with the show's producers to talk about what happens when you put eight top YouTube stars in lockdown with hundreds of faux undead.
Why Tech Companies Are Moving to Downtown L.A.
I've written a lot for Variety. I've made a fair amount of videos in recent years. But this is my first video for Variety, accompanying a feature I wrote about digital media work spaces in Downtown L.A.
On the Green Carpet at 'The Outfield' Premiere
If you have tween or young teen daughters, you've probably heard of Cameron Dallas and Nash Grier. If you don't -- and you're not in the streaming video biz -- you likely haven't.
Hollywood is now capitalizing on the online fame of these "digital influencers" by casting them in low-budget, direct-to-digital movies that can be promoted cheaply through the stars' social media channels. The latest in this genre is Dallas and Grier's new film "The Outfield," which skipped theaters and went straight to iTunes, where it shot to the top of the drama charts, beating out "Jurassic World."
In the video above, I go to the film's premiere at Universal CityWalk and talk to Dallas and Grier and co-directors Michael Goldfine and Eli Gonda about what it took to get two teenagers famous for their work in six-second comedic clips sufficiently prepped to carry a 90-minute drama, and outline the economic model for influencer-driven features.
You can also check out my article about the event.
Go90's "The Runner" Series Explained
I visit the command center for Go90's "The Runner" and get the lowdown on the mobile-first reality competition series from host Matt Patrick (a.k.a. MatPat), executive producer/Pilgrim Media Group CEO Craig Piligian, and Chip Canter, GM of digital entertainment/Go90 for Verizon.
Trending Streaming Video News 'Explained in a Minute'
Recently, I was interviewing the CEO of a prolific reality TV prodco dipping its toes into the streaming video space when he blurted out, "I like your look. Have you ever thought about doing an online news show about this stuff?"
His appraisal of my look was suspect and the comment may have been just a smoke blow to encourage sympathetic coverage, but, I thought, why not give it a try?
Mindful of Shakespeare's much-quoted line "brevity is the soul of wit" ("Hamlet," Act 2, Scene 2) and the short attention spans of today's viewers, I decided to deliver the news in quick blasts, under the title "Explained in a Minute."
How Disney XD Scored with Gamer’s Guide Live Snapchat Promotion
Yes, studios are now promoting moves and TV shows with live Snapchats by digital influencers. Some of your are probably asking, "What's a digital influencer?" It could be a YouTube star or, as in this case, some teenagers from the Midwest who have a million or so followers on Vine. Find out more in this article I wrote for VideoInk.
How They Made "Fight of the Living Dead: Experiment 88"
If you want to find out which YouTubers get ripped to pieces by the undead in the new reality-competition series “Fight of the Living Dead: Experiment 88,” you’ll have to subscribe to YouTube Red and watch the show on the BlackBoxTV channel.
But if you have questions about how they cast it, where they shot it, the zombie to YouTuber ratio and the behind the scenes techniques employed by the producers to keep contestants and viewers on-edge, as well as plans for a sequel, you’ll find answers in the video above.
Disney hosts the biggest YouTube star in the world, Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie), along with other top online gaming personalities including Joseph Garrett (Stampylonghead), at its first-ever public event at its Burbank studios for Maker Studios, the multi-channel network in purchased in March 2014 in a deal worth up to $950 million.
Zefr Preaches Salvation in Analytics
In an article for VideoInk, Zefr co-founder and co-CEO Richard Raddon explains to me how his company helped Hollywood studios stop treating people sharing video on YouTube as pirates and start embracing them as revenue-generating promotional tools.
I go behind the scenes at Young Hollywood's studio, located in a suite on an upper floor of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, and talk to its founder and CEO R.J. Williams about why he said "no" to cable and syndicated TV deals and "yes" to an over-the-top streaming channel on Apple TV.