July 30, 2014

I Was A YouTube Superstar And Didn't Even Know It

Recently, I got an email from a fan who'd seen my short POOL DAYS on YouTube. My films get uploaded from time to time without my consent and when it happens, I usually ask folks to limit them to 2-3 minute clips. When this fan sent the link, I was surprised to see that my film had an astounding number of views--nearly 1.1 million, and over 1,500 comments too. I was a YouTube superstar and didn't even know it!

Unfortunately, the uploader of the film had titled it "Gay Short 033" (!) and did not include any information about me, the actual title, or links to my other films. The situation was both frustrating and somewhat exciting, given the number of people who were responding to my work. When the original film was released as part of BOYS LIFE in the 1990s, it was a big success and seen by maybe 100,000 theatre goers over the course of a couple years in realease. But now, in mere months on YouTube, more than 10 times that number had watched it. Of course, if I had a dime for every click...but that's another story.

Anyway, this time I thought I'd take a different approach with the errant uploader. I messaged the guy and told him he could keep the full clip online but on one condition: he needed to properly credit and tag the video with my information and links to my other work. I figured if all these people like my short, they should be able to find my other films too! These days, in the indie world, it's all about building and bringing your audience with you so this seemed like a way to do just that. He replied to my message in a couple hours and changed all the info and, since then, we've had a lively discussion about my film's sudden viral life.  

What's most interesting in all this is that I've had to sit in countless meetings with executives, producers, and investors over the years about gay-themed projects and the general response is that there's little to no audience, especially if there's teenagers involved. In fact, one of my fellow young adult authors John Green (THE FAULT IN OUR STARS) has an infamous and terrible story of a producer meeting where he was told, and this is a direct quote, "The only thing Hollywood hates more than smart teenagers, is smart gay teenagers." Yet there on YouTube, one of my movies about a smart gay teenager gets over a million plus views with no promotion or publicist or anything. Go figure.

This is all the more timely as, currently, I'm working on a new project, a 12-part series adapted from one of my YA books called BEST SUMMER EVER. It's based on my novel TALE OF TWO SUMMERS about two best friends, one gay and one straight, who have their first big romances over the course of a summer. It's being done independently, for now (see above)...or at least until someone wises up to the audience that is out there. In that same interview John Green said, "I hope Hollywood will prove this movie producer wrong someday." Not sure if/when that will happen, but I think the Internets has maybe done this already.

So make sure you check out BSE on other social media spaces (FB, Twitter, YouTube) for more details to come. In the meantime, you can watch POOL DAYS below.