So, You Think YouTube Is Fun?

Created using StoryBlocks under license

Sure, anyone can whip out the ole smartphone, babble into the correct end and upload a beauty for free. Hell, maybe some talent scout will be bored out of their mind, find your little gem, and you can be the next Lana Turner. But have you ever really thought about what goes into a video? Just how many hats a YouTuber needs to wear? The answer is 13. Minimum.

For starters, there’s …

WRITER

It all starts with putting on your writing hat, coming up with a dozen story ideas, throwing away 11½ of them, and then writing up a script. You know, words to speak. Actions to take. You need to visualize the entire story and be able to not only imagine it end to end, but to communicate it as well. This is actually the key to everything. (See below for an actual script).

LOCATION SCOUT

So, where are you going to shoot? Your bedroom again? Didn’t the script talk about palm trees … well, go find a great place that has them. And probably, you might want to check out a few to find the right one. And if your writer was a little overboard, you’re going to have a few locations to find that somehow blend together.

LIGHTING AND SOUND DUDE(ETTE)

When you watch a video, there is something that absolutely has to be spot on. Not because it makes the video, but because if you do it wrong … no one will watch. Lighting and sound. Both have to be perfect, so they simply blend in. You shouldn’t notice either, because if you do? It’s curtains for your little project. So work with natural and artificial light so that when the Cinematographer steps in, they don’t have to worry about blow-out exposures, wind sounds taking out the dialogue, and all of that.

WARDROBE AND PROPS

What, you’re going to wear that? Uh uh, not going to happen. You’re doing double duty here. Not only do you have to dress correctly and comb your damn hair, what are you supposed to be holding? Using to tell the story? Doesn’t everything on screen have to mean something?

CINEMATOGRAPHER

That video isn’t going to shoot itself. Someone has to work out camera angles, pick the right shots. And it’s not just a management position, you’re also handling the camera(s). Without video, it didn’t happen.

EDITOR

And now it’s time to cut everything together. Did you know if can take HOURS to edit an eight minute video (assuming you want it to look decent). You’re going to have to know a complicated piece of software in and out. To be able to layer and create something exciting that flows. Of all of the jobs, this is the longest and requires the most creativity. Because what everyone else did wrong, you going to have to “fix in post”.

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

That thumbnail image that you clicked on to watch the video? Why did you click it and not others? The hardest part of this whole thing is to create a high quality and enticing thumbnail to get folks to click. Because if they don’t, you could have made Avatar and no one will have watched it. They didn’t click. (Oh, and you also need to write a really desirable title. Otherwise … sigh).

DIRECTOR

And yep, you have to run herd over all of your other personalities. Someone has to be the big boss. Make the hard decisions. And as with everything else … it’s you.

“THE TALENT”

And don’t forget about that egocentric and difficult actor you have to handle with kid gloves. How easy would it be if you didn’t have to have them, but you do. So hopefully they’ll be on their game and can actually remember their lines this time. Because memory isn’t cheap and the 12th take of that really simple scene is going to be frustrating.

And yes, on a normal set there would be staff. Each doing their own job. On YouTube, it’s just you. Oh, and forget about talking over things with others. Do you know anyone else doing videos? You’re going to be lonely. And don’t forget about what happens after the video is released. Who’s going to do marketing? Who’s going to handle your social media?

Now I’m only semi-joking here. Of course you can take your smartphone out into the garden and wander around, showing your green thumb, and use something free and easy like iMovie to trim off the ends. And people will watch, if you’re providing them information (or entertainment) that they need. But it’s when you want to up your game and make higher production value offerings that you find yourself wearing multiple hats.

Those of us that do this do it for the love of the art. Some of us also have aspirations of success and take it more seriously. But still, we do it for creativity. But there is a reason why you usually only get one, maybe two, videos out of someone per week. It’s a lot of work. Especially when you also have a full-time job, family, and other obligations.

I’m in the process of creating a video with the working title of “HOW TO LIVE With a (Never) Trumper — A Lesson In JUDGING OTHERS”. I spent maybe an hour on the story idea, and perhaps three more writing the script. (I’m actually going to paste it below, just so you see what it looks like). I spent maybe an hour creating the thumbnail and reworking the title. I’m five hours into this thing and I haven’t even turned on the camera yet.

Now this is all studio, so location is easy. So are lights, sound, etc. I am going to need a lot of B-roll, which is video you’re watching to hold your attention while I’m speaking under it. That costs me around fifty bucks a month, by the way. All the music and sound is also licensed at around the same price. YouTube isn’t cheap.

Anyway, today or tomorrow I’ll shoot. That won’t take long, under an hour if I don’t flub too many lines. Then it’s the edit. I figure this video is going to come in at around 7–8 minutes. I’m allocating six hours for the edit. Because it’s actually a multi-pass thing. And it’s everything … after the thumbnail (which I’m really proud of this time!).

Then Friday morning, if all goes well, I’ll release it. Promote it on social media and other places. And it will probably get between 30–40 views. Yep, that’s it. What most of my videos get. I will have spent all that time to create something that half of the people who start watching won’t see to the end. And that’s if I’m lucky. We all look at our video analytics and hope that we can get 50% retention by the end of the thing. That’s excellent, in YouTube-land.

So why in the hell would anyone do this, you ask? Because it’s enjoyable as hell to create something from nothing. It’s gratifying to get that one comment that says “I liked this”, and to know you touched a single person. All of that worry, impatience, and frustration is worth that moment.

So yea … I highly recommend the hobby. In fact, I’ve got a lot of leftover gear I’ll sell ya. Because … you’re going to emptying your wallet at B&H. What is B&H, you ask? Don’t worry … if you become a YouTuber, you’ll know. They’re going to become a dependant on your tax forms, the amount of money you’re going to spend with them. 🙂

HOW TO LIVE With a (Never) Trumper — A Lesson In JUDGING OTHERS

  • THUMBNAIL is … Me screaming
  • SOCIAL MEDIA is … This video is about sexism, tribal politics, hate, fear, and the judging of others. It indeed stars The Donald, but he isn’t our main protagonist. This video is not a how-to, not a victory lap over our latest skirmish … but it is something that might win us the war.
  • DESCRIPTION continues … What does a YouTuber named Sorelle Amore, an ex-president of the United States, swarthy-looking muslim men, and a knee-jerk reaction of judgement all have in common?
  • COMMENT is … I’m choosing to live my life in a certain way these days. I avoid at all costs the trumpets of battle. (Get it … Trump-ets? No one? Bueller?) Seriously, I noticed that between covid, political nonsense, news cycles designed for ad growth, and my own mental health … I needed to put distance between me and the pageantry of conflict. I wasn’t benefitting. The world wasn’t getting better. We were all just trapped in a nightmare from which we apparently just don’t want to wake up. Well, I’m waking up. My own emotional health depends on it. I hope you found my words truthful and compelling.

SCENE ZERO (hook/intro — CAM-ONE)

Yes, the title of this video has a name which strikes strong feelings in everyone who sees it. And yes, he’s involved in the story. But if you’re looking for yet another Battle Royale then you need to head elsewhere. Because today I’m going to convince you that you’re looking in the wrong direction. (Sounds of patriotism and battles, fighting. Headshots of Donald and Obama framing me, along with Mitch and Pelosi. Gunshots or bangs when each appears)

(open)

📍 This is a video about judgement. And as embarrassing as it is, my confessions. For you see, I’m no different than most. And my life has indeed been hurt by my own reactions. And I’m guessing that either you or someone you know is in the same boat … and really needs to hear this. (B-roll sequence: Political rallies, demonstrations, muslim demonstrations too. No real music, just turmoil. Make it 4:3, a little 70s looking sounds of a projector underneath)

(punch in and suddenly silent, scroll the titles that match the words) Because our very lives depend on it.

(Wide shot, looking guilty and laughing) Yea, I know. That part was pretty damn dramatic. But it’s also true. Let me explain …

SCENE ONE (Cam-2, Intimate music and feel)

(close up) Confession time. As much as I like to say that I’m enlightened, it’s a battle. I’m 60 freaking years old and I’ve had decades of imprinting. So more often than not I have instant reactions and then have to fight them down.

(wide) Such was the case with a YouTuber named Sorelle Amore.

📍 (music comes up) Sorelle is beautiful. I mean, extremely sexy and fit, incredible smile, engaging and honest. Her videos are very personal. But when you look at her thumbnails … those little photos in your feed that are meant to capture your attention and make you click … she’s always half-naked and showing off her uber-gymed body. And that’s where this story starts. (B-roll sequence of her videos, sans sound. Thumbnails coming across as snapshots.

(punch in) My first reaction was to judge. “She’s using her sex appeal to sell herself, how low can one go?”. That and other snippets of negativity ran through my head. But then I had to challenge myself …

📍 Would I have the same reaction to a sexy, Johnny Depp looking dude? Maybe, don’t know. But my instant snap judgement served no goals. No good came from it, and it was wrong. (B-roll is obviously Johnny)

(wide) She is indeed beautiful and works hard to be healthy and fit. So what’s wrong with not hiding what’s a part of you? Why hide your sexuality?

(punch in) OK, more on my embarrassing misogyny in a moment. Because first we need to talk about … him.

SCENE TWO (CAM-ONE, music should feel like conflict)

(wide) OK, you want to hear about The Donald. That’s why you clicked. So let’s dive into that.

(close up) I’ve got some unpleasant truth for you. Regardless of which side of that war you’re on, you’re shooting yourself in the head over and over. You’re not even aiming at the enemy. And you’re slowly dying.

📍 Donald Trump indeed fans the flames of judgement. Because that’s his schtick. It’s what he does. Conflict serves him. But it doesn’t help you, and it certainly doesn’t help me. Because in the end, the only person who gets hurt is ourselves. (B-roll of social media wars, breaking news headlines, etc.)

(wide) Picture the scene … a Facebook post of someone wearing a MAGA hat hits your feed. Depending on which tribe you support, you’re going to type a flaming diatribe and fling it towards the other side. Thinking you’re either going to convince them to switch sides, or to hurt them so deeply they’re just going to give up the battle.

(close up) Neither one is going to happen.

(wider) That flaming cannonball is going to be swatted back and become a ping pong match. One which never ends. And if you’re not causing damage to the enemy, then who are you hurting? Well you, that’s who.

(close up) More on that in a moment, but consider this. While you’re being all judgy, angry, and hurtful … has anything changed in the world around you? Did any of your missiles actually effect a change in your life? In the lives of others? (Sounds of crickets, no music)

SCENE THREE (Desk, hopping into chair, music is vaguely Moroccan)

So what does travel have to do with judgement? Let me share another story, one in which I’m the bad guy. At least at first.

📍 The first time I went to Morocco … a muslim country … I was afraid. Let me paint the initial scene. Late at night, well after dark and a long taxi ride into Fez, we were dropped off at the mouth of a dark alleyway. There are easily a dozen swarthy men standing around, and the scenery isn’t five star resort level beauty. In fact, it’s kind of stark. (B-roll is of questionable looking scenes from Morocco, etc. Could be great, could be not. Swarthy, yet possibly innocent men)

(lean in, intimate) The cab driver points down into the darkness and says to start walking, someone will meet us. What??? There are swarthy men guarding the entrance! “SOMEONE” is going to meet us … where? Ain’t no frickin way, uh uh. Every Breaking News Story I’ve ever seen starts like this.

(lean back, run fingers through hair, be embarrassed) I was so far into the land of wrong that it’s embarrassing. Beyond embarrassing. A lovely lady did meet us and showed us into this beautiful riad. When we asked her if it was safe to wander out for food, she laughed. Of course it was. Absolutely no one was going to harm us.

📍 And she was right. Despite the place looking exactly like what the news cycle and every social media post says to avoid, it was incredible. The people everywhere were welcoming. The culture was one of giving. I was actually far safer there than walking in one of my own cities. (B-roll is unquestionably positive scenes of Morocco)

The point of this being … how in the world can you experience something new, if you’ve already pre-judged it? How can learn … if you’re only looking to be proved wrong?

SCENE FOUR (CAM-ONE, music is neutral, perhaps Spain-like)

(wide) So, who gets hurt when we judge? Not the judge-ee, I can tell you that. Sorelle doesn’t know me. Never will. My instant and sexist reaction will never reach her ears. She will remain unaffected.

(closer) My blathering towards Trumpers and the great unvaccinated will fall on deaf ears. I cannot impale them with my negative feelings. They will not be harmed.

📍 But, for whatever time period I allow those feelings to fester inside me … I will feel the consequences. I will not see beauty. I will not feel good. My grenades will bounce back and explode in my own bunker. For when we judge others, even if we do it overtly, we only harm ourselves. (B-roll of sadness, anger, negativity)

(closer) Like I mentioned, I’ve been walking this planet for six decades. I’ve learned a lot, including a lot of which I shouldn’t have learned. Imprinting sucks. Truly. But we all have the ability to learn new lessons.

(wide, 20 seconds) To Sorelle … you are a beautiful and intelligent person and I appreciate your openness. Your insights. To those that support The Donald … I don’t understand your position and probably never will, but I’d like to work with you to solve what we can, instead of this endless bickering. And to everyone, I’m tired of fighting my own knee-jerk judgements and I’m going to try harder to do better. What say we all meet in the middle and celebrate something instead? Life’s too short.

See you next time.

— — —

VISION

What do I envision? Strangely, I don’t. Needs to start with how humans judge. Reactions that become dogma that become permanent. That’s the hook and needs to be set right away. Yes the title is click-bait but it’s also got the real subject inside. And is worded to be both sides.

Assuming I set the hook, I want to talk about me. Start with the Sorelle story and my first reactions. Why, because she has an incredible body and smile and she’s visually appealing? If someone has an asset, they’re supposed to hide it? Isn’t that cultural learning, especially when it comes to women’s bodies? (Although I’d have a similar reaction to an overly handsome man. But make it about judgement and the way we’re taught).

So now that we’re established the issue, we need some more conflict.

  • Looking at other cultures through our own lens (Morocco, for instance)
  • Fighting for a tribe or an idol, and never seeing the problems
  • Who gets hurt (below)

We also need to establish just who gets hurt. As in, the judge. My reaction to any of these folks will never get back to them. They are unaffected. But I am. I chose to be unhappy and critical. I’m left with a time period of that. There is no win, even for that brief moment of satisfaction of mentally judging someone.

The resolution is … damn good question. But you can’t experience life fully if you’re always critically comparing. That’s the tie in to travel and cultures. You can’t have experiences if you’re judging and keeping others at arms length. So this needs to be about those experiences and less about the judging. Play up with is possible, not what’s stopping.

I mentioned having a dream about Dr Brown and the flux capacitor. Not sure what that meant. Perhaps suddenly understanding how our past affects our current? Too cliche? Am I trying too hard to be clever? I really wish I remembered this one, I think it was decent.

I need to establish right up front that this is not about politics or Trump. Not directly. In fact, I need to work in how I try hard to avoid that because it’s toxic and poisonous from both sides. No one wins a war when one only wants to war.

SHOW, DON’T TELL … this could be interesting. Maybe some b-roll of rallies and protests?

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Exploring Life, Experiences, and Adventure. And filming it all on YouTube. 🎥. (Writing on Medium as well!)

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RICK HIGGINS

RICK HIGGINS

Exploring Life, Experiences, and Adventure. And filming it all on YouTube. 🎥. (Writing on Medium as well!)

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