Does it matter what audiences think?
Innovative! Informative! Inspirational! Soo Zee and Leigh, a dynamic duo working out of Seoul, have crafted an amazing YouTube channel from short narrative videos that dissect, redefine, and most importantly celebrate culture. But this is no travel vlog! Do Stuff tells stylized stories about culture as it is experienced by its protagonists--usually Soo Zee and Leigh. To name just a few of their creations : Hotels are Better than Homes, Korean Movie Theaters are Awesome, Asian glow is the worst. On Do Stuff, you never know what to expect. Their videos cover everything, somehow making the mundane feel fantastic, and reminding us that we don't need to search very hard to appreciate what makes being alive so delightful.
And so it was a great honor when they asked me to be the first Do Stuff guest creator. I made four videos with them, but in this blog post I am just going to talk about one. After spending a great deal of my time in marketing, my return to filmmaking reminded me why I started working in the media field in the first place. As a film student in college, I never had to ask the question : "Will my audience like this...?" A question I inevitably ask everyday working as a creative director at a video marketing agency. Just like the good ole days, I let my inhibitions regarding brand reputation slip away and simply let the muses speak. Nevertheless, Do Stuff didn't always agree with the muses and I had to go through several rounds of scripts before I had ideas that we all agreed were worthwhile.
Among those ideas was a piece we called "replaying my favorite childhood game." This was a nostalgic piece based on real life events where I tried to relearn a fantasy card game called Magic : The Gathering after not having played since high school. What I appreciated about working with Soo Zee and Leigh is that they would let this piece slide even though we knew from its conception that it was unlikely to to be a video that would get a lot of views. They believed in the story enough that this particular video received more attention than some of the other videos that were destined to get more traffic. This piece involved tedious motion graphics, locations in two different countries, and a single shot where I had to sprint up a steep hill and almost throw up my breakfast.
It was all worth it because this video spoke for itself. The subscribers who did see it seemed moved emotionally.
The Magic : The Gathering video was a little bit sad. There were a lot of commiserating Do Stuff fans who could relate to the feeling all people get when we try to revisit something we did in the past and the disappointment we feel when we are not transported to the good ole days. We received less traffic on this one indeed, but like most things it is the quality that matters, not the quantity. Whether we are working as pure artists or making media with commercial intent, it is important to consider what people are willing (want to) watch, but it is also equally valuable to consider what people need (or desire) spiritually. This is a harder thing to find and I think the only method of satisfying the more complicated aspects of our audience is to search for the answer inside our own souls. That's what we did with this video and I think it paid off.
If you are interested in hearing more about the background story working with Do Stuff, check out my interview I did with Leigh on the first episode of "A Creations." In the podcast we also talk about a short film we worked on together back in our grad school days.