YouTube celebrity Shane Dawson is no stranger to shocking people, given his sometimes offensive, but still hugely popular videos. He thinks, however, that his new movie “Not Cool” will surprise viewers for a different reason.
“I think everybody that’s seen my stuff online is going to be really surprised by the movie because it’s outrageous and funny and everything we all expect, but it has so much heart,” Dawson said Thursday night at the “Not Cool” premiere at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles. “I think people are going to be shocked by it.”
Dawson, who has more than 10 million YouTube subscribers on his comedy channels, directed and starred in the movie thanks to the Starz series “The Chair.” The 10-part documentary followed two first-time directors (Dawson and Anna Martemucci, who made “Hollidaysburg” for the project) as they are given two identical screenplays and tasked with making two different films. Both directors were given a budget and a team of mentors to follow to help them through the process.
Dawson, the producers of “The Chair” and both movies and a slew of YouTubers showed up to the premiere of “Not Cool” to celebrate its debut. One of the people who served as a producer for “Not Cool” and “Hollidaysburg” was Chris Moore, best known for producing “Good Will Hunting,” “American Pie” and “Project Greenlight.” He had worked with Dawson for about nine months before “The Chair,” and said he felt the YouTuber “deserved” to make his own movie.
“I think that ‘Not Cool’ is something that’s going to define a generation, in a way,” he said. “Shane sort of represents that generation in his age and his style in coming up through the YouTube ranks.”
“The next time I get introduced, it won’t be ‘Good Will Hunting’ and ‘American Pie,’” he added. “It’ll be ‘Not Cool’ and ‘Hollidaysburg’ and ‘Chair,’ hopefully.”
Moore made a point to note the “heart” in Dawson’s videos as well as his movie, which follows a former prom king and college freshman as he returns home for Thanksgiving after being dumped by his eccentric girlfriend.
Fellow YouTuber Lisa Schwartz, who is also Dawson’s girlfriend and appears in the movie as well, said this sort of job is one that Dawson had dreamed of for quite some time.
“Shane’s videos always have a lot of heart, and this has a lot of heart,” she said. “I think what they’re mostly going to be surprised by is how good of an actor he is. The end takes a turn, and it’s just beautiful and he does a wonderful job and he just blew me away.”
It’s not surprising that Dawson turned to other YouTubers when casting the film. Drew Monson described Dawson’s directing approach as “laid back in a collaborative way,” and pointed out the vast differences between making Internet videos and a feature-length movie.
“It’s the most different thing in the world,” he said. “It’s the two most different things from each other, I think.”
Dawson described the process of going from making YouTube videos to having a crew of people helping him make a movie as a dream-come-true. Still, he felt like he, along with his fellow YouTubers, have plenty to prove.
“We’re all trying to show Hollywood that we can do something more than just a three-minute video,” he said.
“I think Hollywood is being kind of forced to take notice,” he added. “I’ve been around forever on YouTube – eight years or something – and it’s just this last year where people have actually taken me seriously, so hopefully after seeing this movie, they’ll take me even more seriously.”
“Not Cool” also stars Cherami Leigh and Michelle Veintimilla, and will be released theatrically Friday. It will get a digital release on Sept. 23.