Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Filmmakers Cashing In On YouTube


I've certainly had my share of ideas for a YouTube program series, but, for one reason or another, I've never acted on any of them. 

However, it's encouraging to see that there are others who did act, who are now enjoying the financial rewards of all their hard work.

So... filmmakers, I encourage you to take heed, if you haven't already. The Internet, specifically highly-trafficked sites like YouTube, present some unexplored opportunities. Don't rest your hopes on achieving success via the traditional route - festival entries, a distributor pick-up, followed by a theatrical release, and then on to home video (DVD). Perhaps it's time to consider creating content for the tube - in this case, YouTube!

Yes, it'll be a challenge attracting eyeballs, but, as the gentlemen in the article below demonstrate, a little hard work can go a long way - and a catchy idea, of course. But, think of the amount of control you'll have over your work and its distribution, that you likely would not, if you opted for the tried, but not necessarily true path.

Read on from the New York Times:

Making videos for YouTube — for three years a pastime for millions of Web surfers — is now a way to make a living.

One year after YouTube, the online video powerhouse, invited members to become “partners” and added advertising to their videos, the most successful users are earning six-figure incomes from the Web site. For some, like Michael Buckley, the self-taught host of a celebrity chatter show, filming funny videos is now a full-time job.

Mr. Buckley quit his day job in September after his online profits had greatly surpassed his salary as an administrative assistant for a music promotion company. His thrice-a-week online show “is silly,” he said, but it has helped him escape his credit-card debt.

Mr. Buckley, 33, was the part-time host of a weekly show on a Connecticut public access channel in the summer of 2006 when his cousin started posting snippets of the show on YouTube. The comical rants about celebrities attracted online viewers, and before long Mr. Buckley was tailoring his segments, called “What the Buck?” for the Web. Mr. Buckley knew that the show was “only going to go so far on public access.”

“But on YouTube,” he said, “I’ve had 100 million views. It’s crazy.”


Granted, building an audience online takes time. “I was spending 40 hours a week on YouTube for over a year before I made a dime,” Mr. Buckley said — but, at least in some cases, it is paying off.

Mr. Buckley is one of the original members of YouTube’s partner program, which now includes thousands of participants, from basement video makers to big media companies. YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, places advertisements within and around the partner videos and splits the revenues with the creators. “We wanted to turn these hobbies into businesses,” said Hunter Walk, a director of product management for the site, who called popular users like Mr. Buckley “unintentional media companies.”

YouTube declined to comment on how much money partners earned on average, partly because advertiser demand varies for different kinds of videos. But a spokesman, Aaron Zamost, said “hundreds of YouTube partners are making thousands of dollars a month.” 

Mr. Buckley, who majored in psychology in college and lives with his husband and four dogs in Connecticut, films his show from home. Each episode of “What the Buck?” is viewed an average of 200,000 times, and the more popular ones have reached up to three million people. He said that writing and recording five minutes’ worth of jokes about Britney Spears’s comeback tour and Miley Cyrus’s dancing abilities is not as easy as it looks. “I’ve really worked hard on honing my presentation and writing skills,” he said.


Cory Williams, 27, a YouTube producer in California, agrees. Mr. Williams, known as smpfilms on YouTube, has been dreaming up online videos since 2005, and he said his big break came in September 2007 with a music video parody called “The Mean Kitty Song.” The video, which introduces Mr. Williams’ evil feline companion, has been viewed more than 15 million times. On a recent day, the video included an advertisement from Coca-Cola.

Mr. Williams, who counts about 180,000 subscribers to his videos, said he was earning $17,000 to $20,000 a month via YouTube. Half of the profits come from YouTube’s advertisements, and the other half come from sponsorships and product placements within his videos, a model that he has borrowed from traditional media.


“I didn’t start it to make money,” he said, “but what a lovely surprise.”

Show me the money!!! 

Read the entire article from the New York Times here: YOUTUBE LOOT


  1. Qadree said...

    Most of the filmmakers that I have talked to about this don't know what they are doing. They will put up a website, but they will not let anyone know about the site or put any effort into marketing on the internet.

    The web is the cheapest and potentially most lucrative form of marketing for independents, it doesn't make sense to spend money traveling and buying ad space in local papers for a short film.

    Something a lot of non-technical people don't know is that the viewing statistics for youtube videos don't actually reflect views. Their is no way for them to tell if someone actually a video so if you embed the youtube clip in an iframe on a high traffic site every time that page is viewed it will count as a view for the youtube clip. The clip may not even be visible to the user, but a lot of people uses methods like these to drive videos to the top of the most viewed list for a certain time period.

    There are also several pieces of software that are designed specifically to inflate the view, comment, and subscription stats on youtube. The whole idea of spending money going from festival to festival is getting old, especially for short films.

Post a Comment