A documentary documenting YouTubers documenting their lives.
That’s the very meta premise behind Vlogumentary, a project that began back in 2013 with an IndieGogo campaign from YouTubers Corey Vidal and Shay Carl (Shaytards) and wrapped up in 2016 with help from award-winning filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me).
After years of fundraising, interviewing and editing, the documentary finally premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in #NewYork City on Wednesday, marking a special moment in #TeamInternet history.
The film, directed by Matthew Testa and Vidal, aims to pull the curtain back on this “new media revolution” by following some of the top vloggers ?” including Carl, Charles Trippy, Swoozie, Grace Helbig and others in the business ?” behind-the-scenes. It examines how they work, what they have to say and why their fans prefer videos of real life over traditional entertainment.
“This word ‘vlog’ or ‘vlogging’ is still considered a brand new word,” Carl told Mashable in an interview following the film’s premiere. “Even iPhone autocorrects to blog!”
“This #Movie was based on the fact that we wanted to shine a light on this community, Team Internet, and we want the world to know about the influencers of the future.”
Carl said the idea came one night three years ago when he and Vidal were driving down the 90 freeway in #LosAngeles on their way to dinner.
“I said, ‘I really want to make a movie,’ and he agreed to help make it, with his production company based out of Toronto,” Carl said.
Then came the fundraising: $201,989 from over 5,441 contributors, all of whom are credited as associate producers on the film.
Then they got a van, drove across the U.S. and recorded over 200 hours of footage with interviews from YouTubers all over the country.
But the process proved more challenging than expected, as production hit a few roadblocks. One of the initial documentary editors was going through “personal issues” and therefore the entire editing process was falling behind.
“People were getting frustrated it wasn?’t up,” Carl recalled. “Because the YouTube audience is used to this instant gratification and they said why isn?’t the movie done yet. So then we found Morgan…I was randomly in New York for New Fronts in 2015 and he was backstage. I said ‘hey famous documentary maker Morgan Spurlock, would you like to help us with our documentary?’ He said yes.”
They’ve been working on it ever since, adding to the already finished interviews, sifting through even more vlogs on YouTube and of course editing.
“I was so intrigued by the idea of it ?” the whose who of YouTubers and this universe,” Spurlock, who has a 9-year-old son, told Mashable. “It’s such an important story because these are the people that reshaped the dynamic of entertainment and how we connect with audiences.”
Testa echoed that.
“A lot of people talk about the level of authenticity [of YouTubers] and that really resonated for me as a documentary filmmaker and someone who worked in reality TV,” he said.
“I was fascinated by the way young people are searching for something real right now; it’s a very interesting cultural shift that?’s happening. I also wanted to explore how authentic YouTube is and what happens when all this money gets introduced into the equation, when you add branded deals to the equation and it becomes corporatized.”
At times, the documentary is playful ?” a tone that is similar to that of many channels on YouTube.
But there are also darker, more emotional moments, ones that give more depth to the often-mocked YouTube culture.
Fans who have been waiting for the film keep asking the big unanswered question: When will Vlogumentary be released to the public?
The filmmakers said distribution plans are still in the works. But Carl noted Spurlock was approached by several interested people following the Tribeca screening.
Plus, documentary aside, there’s a lot of extra unseen footage that Carl said they want to release at some point online.
“The documentary is more of a calling card to a much bigger story and a much deeper community than is portrayed,” he said. “We could remake this movie every single year, because something new is always going to happen in this space. You never know, maybe there will be Vlogumentary 6, 7 and 8…like Jaws.”