And moving into YouTube as a platform, what do you think the advantages and disadvantages are to being a YouTube creator?
Sam: Advantages, you get to make whatever you want and no one is your boss. Disadvantages, you’re not making that much money off your videos, and you don’t have enough budget to make anything other than a quick little video.
Niko: We’re making — granted they are a lot shorter than a TV show — but we’re making videos that get as many hits as a very popular cable television show or even a TV show on standard ABC, CBS, NBC networks, so we’re making clips that are getting millions of views but our budgets are still only a thousand bucks.
Sam: That’s if we spend every dollar we make [laughs].
Niko: We don’t really make any money off a video for spending a thousand dollars on it, so that’s the downside of YouTube is the money is not there yet with the advertising, and you can really go out there and seek out sponsorships, but it’s so incredibly hard to find a company that is going to let you make a video that doesn’t feel like an advertisement and still feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. Little by little as YouTube hopefully evolves and gets those CPMs and gets those budgets higher, then they’ll see the content evolve. The reason you’re not seeing a lot of people doing what we’re doing is because it is very hard to afford a nice camera and a nice set of lenses and a nice computer and a team of people when you’re making a CPM of a buck per thousand. It is not until you see that go up that you’re going to see some stuff change. That is certainly a disadvantage of YouTube, but to be fair it’s not like it’s any easier to go out and get a TV show. Mega advantage is a direct connection with the audience knowing right away what people like and don’t like, and you have to read into it a little bit. People aren’t sitting down and busting out a Roger Ebert-level critique of the insights of your film and how it flows; they’re saying, “That was good” or “This part was boring.” You have to figure out what’s inspiring that, but if you see a common thread with people on the film in the comments section, that helps you learn as an artist. Like for example with the “Zelda” video that just came out, we knew that if we didn’t get Link’s look correct and Dark Link’s look correct that people would immediately be distracted by the piece, and so we made these costumes, put a lot of time and effort into crafting the look of this piece and the question is, did we pull it off? And based on the comment section, for Dark Link we did, but for Link people thought it was a little bit hit-and-miss. That is also going to be a little bit naturally the case when people are watching something because everyone has their own version of who these characters are–
Sam: Although at the end of the day I think what was more important to the audience based on the top comments is that we left a lens on one of the rocks in a shot.
Niko: Well we did ask people to go hunting for that nirnroot.
Sam: Yeah but that was already top commented before the nirnroot thing.
Niko: People like to point out continuity errors in your videos ‘cause they get a lot of thumbs up.
Sam: We just hide them.
Niko: No we don’t.
Niko: [laughs] Wait, you do that? I’ve never done that.
Sam: I’ve done it once, and it was for something really stupid, and I was like, “Shut up guys.” Then I voted something else up [laughs].
Niko: Once somebody sees that a top comment pointing out a continuity mistake has been getting a lot of thumbs up, they’ll continue to post it and it will just always be there and so everybody posts about it–
Sam: That means you have to delete them more.
Niko: [laughs] Anyways at the end of the day when you’re looking at the comments on YouTube they’re an incredible source of feedback but you have to look beyond what people are saying and try to figure out why they’re saying what they’re saying.
What do you think of YouTube’s recent introduction of paid channels? Would you ever think about having a paid channel?
Niko: Love to have a paid channel if we had the content that could support it. I mean you got to look at what’s out there though — seven bucks a month gets you a Netflix subscription, so if you’re going to charge seven bucks a month to subscribe to your YouTube channel you have to beat Netflix.
Sam: And they have “Arrested Development” right now from what I hear.
Niko: You’re in for a tough time. You have to make some really crazy stuff if you want to run a paid channel.
And so for you guys, is your ultimate goal to just be making movies, creating movies, creating TV shows? Once that happens, do you feel like you’d still do stuff for YouTube?
Sam: Yeah well I mean here’s the way I’d like to put it–
Niko: It will all blend into one.
Sam: First off, everything is kind of blending. Everyone has a YouTube presence from movies and trailers and stuff like that, but also, even though our original goal getting into this was to make really sweet big budget movies, right now we’re not doing that. We’re making YouTube videos and growing an audience, and I think anyone who makes that jump or transition from YouTube to whatever medium of choice that wanted to do earlier in life, I think is I would say is a little naive to assume that you can just stop making these YouTube videos or just completely disregard this audience because, “Okay, I’m making all these more expensive movies now.” That is something we’re keeping in mind as far as let’s say we’re going to embark on a year-long mega-project that we’ve been wanting to put together; it’s like how do we keep this channel running, how do we keep this audience satisfied?
Niko: All these people that are there because they like your stuff, you don’t want to just forget about them. You don’t want to be like, “Eh, all you people we’ve been making these videos for, that’s it. Whatever, close down the channel, see ya!” It doesn’t work that way.
Sam: But it is also in our best interest to keep it running too. It’s like let’s say we do make a movie, like we need to make sure that every single person that has been watching these videos knows about this because that’s what we’ve been putting all our energy into, and they’re probably going to like it.
Niko: If it wasn’t for this audience we wouldn’t have this movie to begin with.
Sam: And also that’s the other thing too — it’s like making that jump from YouTube to bigger budget movie or something like that, how did you even get to that big-budget movie? It’s because you have this YouTube channel, because people have been seeing your work, people are familiar with it, people know that certain ideas and stuff you’ve been doing are popular. And if we make some movie or make some cool series or something like that, it will be because we’ve been running this YouTube channel and we can’t deny that.