Since its fledgling days in 2005, YouTube has served as a springboard for aspiring artists to showcase their talent. Justin Bieber — known by his YouTube username, “kidrauhl,” in 2007 — was famously discovered on the vid-sharing site by label execs. YouTube beauty guru Michelle Phan inked a deal with Lancome after her makeup tutorials garnered her more than 1 million subscribers.
But not all careers launched from YouTube involve a webcam. Today, budding editors are attracting attention from trailer houses that see potential in these YouTube users’ homemade teasers.
Ant Farm topper Rodd Perry cites a particular clip as the spark for this homemade trailer trend. “This all started years ago with the guy who did ‘The Shining,'” says Perry, referencing a YouTube video posted by user “neochosen” in 2006 that re-imagined Stanley Kubrick’s psychological thriller as a romantic comedy. The spoof trailer has since accumulated almost 2.5 million views.
“Before that I don’t think people were really thinking, ‘Oh my god, the footage is out there and we can do something with it.’ ”
Since then, countless home-cut trailers have surfaced online. Popular vids have caught the eye of industry execs, including Perry, who spotted Gen Ip’s “Filmography 2010” clip on YouTube. Just a college student at the time, Gen edited together a six-minute montage of pics released in 2010 and uploaded it to her YouTube account, “genrocks.” It quickly went viral, and eventually showed up on Perry’s Web browser. The clip impressed the trailer house CEO to such an extent that Ip was offered a job at Ant Farm, one she accepted.
“From ‘Filmography 2010,’ I knew that Gen already had a great visual sense of how shots worked together, and her music choices glued everything together perfectly,” says Perry. “There was something in Gen’s work that seemed effortless.”
Ip, however, was a newbie to the trade. “I didn’t really have classical editing training,” she says. While her “Filmography 2010” clip was lighting up major film blogs, Ip was pursuing a degree in communications and toying with Avid Xpress during her downtime from studying. “But when I got to Ant Farm, I realized a lot of it is instincts and creative ability.”
After making the leap from amateur to pro, Ip has deepened her perspective on the surge in homemade trailers. “This whole trend with fans making their own trailers is their way of interacting with the material and not being just the passive receiver of marketing messages,” she says. “You have all of this material you can download, and all of these tools because editing programs are really easy to come by these days … the Internet gives you a stage to show off your ability in a way that wasn’t possible five or 10 years ago.”
As for Ip’s plunge into the industry, she is still taken aback by how quickly her world has changed. “I went from someone who was editing in her bedroom to someone who is able to get in contact with Steven Spielberg for a TV campaign of ‘War Horse.’ It’s been really cool.”