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by Olivia Creamer
August 20th, 2014

Back in July, YouTube and Rooftop films hosted YouTube for Filmmakers, a presentation offering Rooftop filmmakers and friends an overview of the various resources YouTube has to offer. In front of a packed audience, the YouTube staffers gave us a presentation that was short, but jammed with information, just like YouTube videos themselves.

This year’s partnership between YouTube and Rooftop Films has allowed Rooftop to help connect independent filmmakers with even more growth opportunities,. At YouTube for Filmmakers we learned about the resources for YouTube Creators found at the Creator Hub – which is the website where filmmakers can access online courses, tech support, etc, . YouTube’s Creator Playbook is essentially a step-by-step guide to best optimizing your YouTube channel to showcase your content and build your audience.  We also saw examples of brands that were largely created or expanded through YouTube. Suffice it to say we’ve had a lot to learn from it ourselves.

We also learned about the workshops and presentations that will be available at The YouTube Space NY, which is a top of the line production facility that opens this fall in Chelsea Market for YouTube channel creators.  The Space is just one way that YouTube supports its creators, YouTube has Spaces in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and London already open and active.  At the Space, there are courses educating creators on how they can use YouTube to build their brand, whether that is a company, a film, or an individual filmmaker. Filmmakers interested in participating can sign up for these free opportunities at YouTubeSpaceNY.com. There hasn’t been anything else like this in NY to date and it will be exciting to see a space with opportunities like this for up-and-coming filmmakers.

A lot of filmmakers think that they can just put their material online and it will draw crowds, and instant publishing is part of the beauty of YouTube, but the most successful channels are ones that seriously curate their content. For example, Dear White People, an example of an individual film, started by releasing a concept trailer before any of the film had even been shot, and, kept their audience engaged by regularly releasing, funny and interesting videos. Some of these were also topical issue videos, which drew in viewers that may not have otherwise seen their content.

But what is a brand without an audience? What became clear throughout the presentation was how unique the opportunities that YouTube provides are. Releasing content on YouTube allows you immediate access to a global audience, which is fairly unique to YouTube. With 1 billion unique users, and over 6 billion hours  worth of content watched each month, YouTube has evolved from being just a viral video site to a place where individuals can create an identity through their channel. Having ownership over your channel means that you’re the distributor as well as the creator, so you have the freedom to release content that you have complete creative control over.

Seeing a tangible example of the work that Rooftop does in order to help independent filmmakers was great because we were able to see how many filmmakers both wanted and needed this kind of help. Perhaps this event was an important step in making many companies and films into a reality.  The filmmakers in the audience make narrative and documentary films, and had a range of experiences with YouTube–some had uploaded videos before, and some had never used it as a professional resource. YouTube, it seems, is more than just funny cat videos and extravagant proposals.

Just how often the best parts of a YouTube video can be found in the comments, some of the most interesting parts of the talk were in the Q&A. While it was clear that most of the audience had a good idea of what YouTube was and had spent time on it, and left looking forward to making the most of what YouTube has to offer. Even as a non-filmmaker I came away excited by the seemingly endless possibilities.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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