Interview || Nathaniel Keesing
Grapeshot: Why did you decide you wanted to pursue YouTube and social media as a career?
Damian Parker: I started YouTube as a way to express ideas and entertain an audience, because I have always loved doing things involved in entertainment and the convenience of doing that from my own home and being my own director and editor and all that was fantastic. So I originally just started doing it as a hobby, and because I was already working as a professional entertainer, it was just another outlet for that. I originally never thought of it as a career and then suddenly I realised I had this following that was essentially just the same type of audience a tv show would have, so why should I not be making content, and be paid for it?
The first time that any of my videos did well would be when I first thought this could be a career. I was working in a circus. It now has over a million views and I got paid a few thousand for just talking shit to a camera. So I was like “Oh! If I could do that frequently, and make that money frequently, that would be a cool job”.
G: What kind of videos do you make?
DP: I make whatever I feel like at the time. I really like the process of documenting my own life. So things I’m actually interested in at the time, things I’m doing, events I’m going to and participating in. I create content from that. Taking something that could be mundane and ordinary, then making it a bit more interesting and putting it online to share with an audience of like minded people. I find the type of content I create generally is the type of content you can connect with on a personal level, which is kind of bringing up the point of whether it’s entertainment, or is it creating a type of one-sided relationship?
G: What do you mean a one on-side relationship?
DP: Firstly the reason I think YouTube can not only be a form of entertainment, but also a form of a relationship, as opposed to traditional media, is because with YouTube it’s normally a one person project. With bigger Youtubers, they might have a director or an editor, but generally it’s a one person project showing you slices of their real life. I mean, there are traditional media, but on top of it being about this group of people, they don’t see any of the editing, they don’t see any of the production, they’re probably being told what to do by the producers. There’s not that real personal connection, and on top of that, there’s the fact that they don’t generally address the camera. That’s the big thing: breaking the fourth wall is not very common in traditional media, while Youtubers do that very frequently, so it creates this more personal connection through showing your own life. Being your own editor, producer, being as real as you can be, addressing the audience, and even having that connection move forward into other forms of social media, such as twitter and all of that where you can communicate with your audience. That’s something the characters in a tv show, or the stars on a tv show, normally wouldn’t do. So I say it’s a one-sided relationship, even though it can be actually be two-sided. It can extend to being friends with the YouTuber, but most of the time generally with the bigger Youtubers, you can’t personally connect back with millions of people, so you have these millions of people who get to know you through your videos and create this friendship. The person who created those videos might never know that these people technically exist.
G: Do you think the bigger that YouTube becomes, the more they lose the essence of what this platform is about?
DP:I think the bigger YouTube becomes, it definitely affects the way YouTube feels, but at the same time, there’s always going to be new content creators that are coming in who have that smaller audience. You can connect with them, so there’s always going to be a balance I think.
G: Do you think YouTube will change the way traditional media is created?
DP: Traditional media has taken notice of the way social media has taken hold of entertainment, and they want to reach that same audience, so they do certain things to emulate the way YouTube comes across, such as more improvisation. I’ve noticed there’s a lot less scripts being involved in TV shows, and certain ways of shows being filmed, such as handheld or addressing the camera directly, and that’s all started to pop up lately since traditional media has taken notice of Youtube taking a strong hold of the entertainment industry.