By Ryan Meehan
At 28, Dan Dobi has jumped across both traditional and alternative media, leading a double life that’s positioned him as a highly regarded pop culture influencer. His current project is as the director/producer of “PLEASE SUBSCRIBE” — a feature length documentary made in four months about the phenomenon behind some of the top personalities on YouTube, initiated by his own foray as a YouTube content creator and distributor — and made with just over $12,000 raised through Kickstarter. If that isn’t enough, Dobi began his professional career as a well-respected music video director who has worked with such artists as Jason Mraz, Paramore, P-Diddy, Soulja Boy, Ice Cube, Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes and Gym Class Heroes, to name a few. He’s also a skilled editor and has applied his talents to corporations such as Adidas, Levi’s and Nike. That’s quite a track record from a guy who moved to Los Angeles just seven years ago from Fairfield, Connecticut…We are lucky to have him as he’s our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: How did you get your start making online videos? What was the first thing you noticed about yourself that you knew you had to do differently to get more people to watch your channel?
DD: I got started by just DOING it. Posting random videos to my channel that I wanted friends to check out. I suppose the thing I did differently that people caught on to was this show I did back in 2009 called “Duncan Rocks”. It was just a show I did with two of my best friends and it ended up being a hit! It was weird at the beginning to see a viewership literally appear from thin air.
FOH: Some people might say that when it comes to podcasting and vlogging, the market has become very oversaturated and it seems like everybody has their own show now. Do you think just because anybody with a computer and internet access can do it, that maybe we’ve created a world where certain people who aren’t born to do something like this can now do it with the greatest of ease? Or do you think that’s a very negative way of looking at it and see it as basically another form of free-market capitalism?
DD: No I think you’re right. I think the market for YouTube is completely over saturated right now and it’s honestly WEIRD to see some of the heavy hitters in the space not being that… funny/entertaining. I don’t think that’s a negative way of looking at it, that’s just the way it is. You also have to keep in mind that majority of the YouTube demographic is 12-18 year olds.
FOH: Let’s talk about the documentary “Please Subscribe” that you’ve made…What was your main goal in making that film, and who did you get the opportunity to speak with as far as people who have been able to turn their Youtube channel into a means to create revenue?
DD: The main goal of the film was to show the world what it means to be a full time YouTuber and what these guys go through on an everyday basis. A lot of people don’t even know you can make a living posting videos to a website so I wanted to show people (like my parents) that this is a real thing and a lot of people are doing it.
FOH: While I was researching this film I ran across the Rolling Stone article about Kiki Kannibal, a young woman who was stalked after posting several pictures of herself online. In this film, do you address the issue of the dark side of the internet that can involve a certain obsession with these web celebrities? Are there any other similar scary stories that you came across while interviewing some of these people?
DD: Actually yes, we address the issue in Daily Grace’s portion of the film. She mentions that someone found her address and posted it as a comment on one of her videos. She goes on to mention that it was really scary and intrusive that someone was able to figure out where she lives and pretty much tell everyone within seconds! Crazy!
FOH: You said that originally when you had planned to start shooting this documentary that you thought it would take three months, but instead it took a year. What were the biggest obstacles that you ran into while filming, and was there ever a point where it felt like you were overwhelemed?
DD: Shooting actually was under 3 months, so that wasn’t the bad part. The editing was where the obstacles came into play, mostly with structure. I don’t think I ever felt overwhelmed, I enjoyed every second of it, I enjoy being constantly busy and stressed on deadlines etc. Clearing all of the music and getting people to sign off on certain things was probably the biggest headache I’d say though.
FOH: The internet is obviously one of the biggest technological breakthroughs in all of history. Because of the monster it has become, in your opinion will a person be able to purchase a newspaper a hundred years from now?
DD: Oh man! I don’t know! A hundred years I’d say no, hah. I think the paper will be done in 10 tops.
FOH: What’s next for you in the twelve months to come? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
DD: I just found an amazing script that I’m working out the kinks with right now. Really funny Romantic Comedy. Hopefully that will be my big project this year!
Official Website: www.dandobi.com
“Please Subscribe” Official Website: http://www.pleasesubscribefilm.com/
Dan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dobalish
Dan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dandobi
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