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Last sync:2018-12-01 16:50
Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers (the creators of VidCon) talks with Shira about the conference and about YouTube.

With Shira Lazar

Filmed by Mark Ostrick
Shira Lazar: Hey, Shira Lazar coming to you from VidCon, with the one and only, Hank Green, behind the Vlogbrothers and of course, behind VidCon.

Hank: Yeah.

Shira: That's a big title to have.

Hank: Yeah, principle organizer is what I put on my email footer. Principle organizer of VidCon.

Shira: That's a long title, you should just use, founder, creator.

Hank: Okay. Yeah, yeah. Well, I have, like, six other titles. It goes on for, it's like a paragraph long. I do- I have too many ideas.

Shira: You're an idea man. So, what brought this all together? What was the inspiration?

Hank: Uh, John and I have been in online video for about 3 and a half years, and we just have been doing it for a long time. I have been a lot of different industries in my life, and so I have been to a lot of industry conferences. And I was really surprised that no one had put one together for independent online video.

Shira: Mhmm.

Hank: And I felt like we would all benefit from it a lot. I felt like the community would benefit from, like, getting together and kinda having a party, and I also felt like we should be talking about this because it's kind of a big deal.

Shira: Yeah, well I think, so much has evolved in just the five years YouTube has been around and even this past year.

Hank: Yeah, yeah. I mean actually, when we said "We want to do this, let's do it" it was six months ago and we were like we should plan for it to be like 50% bigger than it already is because it grows that fast.

Shira: Only six months, it took to put this all together.

Hank: Yeah, we definitely were on a pretty tight schedule as far as conference planning goes, however it was the most planning and the farthest ahead we had ever looked for any project by a long shot.

Shira: Usually, it's like next week, we have to do that video, you know.

Hank: Yeah, it's kind of like "Eh, I have this idea, uhh, I just bought the domain name, I just did the design, and I'm done." Yeah. 

Shira: So what, you know, in terms of the schedule and who you brought in, describe some of the, what you decided on. 

Hank: Well, John and I are pretty active in the online video community so we've done some organizing to get people together to promote charities before, and so we had a lot of friends and so we kind of just sent out a bunch of emails and we were like "Do you want to do a thing and get together and have a really really big conference?" And the, everyone said yes except for the people who were like "I wish I could be there but I have a wedding that weekend" or something.

Shira: Yeah yeah yeah.

Hank: So everyone wanted to do it so as soon, we filled up like we pretty much filled up the speaker slots on the main stage in like six hours.

Shira: No way.

Hank: And then we had to cut people so that we could put cooler stuff in. When we were like "There is maybe a little too much talking we can put in a sword swallowing act here and we can put in, ah, some musicians here and, like, have it be a little bit more lively and sort of, like, mixed together, talking about how interesting and cool and, like, how people have, have sort of created their thing in online video but also a lot of fun stuff happen too."

Shira: You also have these insider track thing going on.

Hank: You know, I mean it's pretty obvious that a lot of people are... I actually think it's really cool in online video how people are creators and they're consumers and the line is really blurry and so you look around and, and I see people who are at the conference pretty much as a community member but I've watched their videos. You know, they make videos and they are good videos and I like the stuff they're doing. So there's a, there's a blurry line there. Um, and we kinda wanted there to be an opportunity to say, like, "I'm actually, I've decided that I'm going to try and go after this and it's going to be something I want to do as part of, you know, my professional life." And, um, to give people an opportunity to, who have made that decision to get together and so we had an insider track for those folks so that they could talk about the more, like, sort of serious stuff.

Shira: The business side of YouTube and video content creation.

Hank: Right right exactly.

Shira: Did you expect there to be so many fans. 'Cause some people were saying it's industry some people saying, you know, it's like the Comic-Con of online video?

Hank: Well i totally ex... I expected there to be a lot of fans.

Shira: Uhun.

Hank: Um I, from the beginning I really wanted- and it's so hard to market to two big, like, very different audiences.

Shira: Yeah.

Hank: I really wanted to market it to the industry and to the community. And I really wanted to push that really hard because I don't think that, I don't think that the industry without the community, I mean it certainly wouldn't exist.

Shira: Totally, yeah.

Hank: And also I think that, you know, we owe them so much, and it's so much more fun and the best business gets done when you're having fun anyway.

Shira: Yeah! So what's been the most exciting thing for you here, looking back even though we're kind of almost done in two days.

Hank: Uh, I mean the people with the machetes and iJustine, that was pretty good, but the most exciting thing for me was the concert last night where all my friends, and we've known each other for a long time, playing music together but not really getting to hang out together a lot were able to, you know play, you know all of like six sets in a row of just people who I really like and who are my friends and who I just love their music and a crowd screaming and jumping up and down and dancing and that was for me, like, you know. During the moments where I didn't, wasn't like jumping up and down with excitement, I kinda wanted to cry 'cause it was just so awesome for me.

Shira: Well, yeah because we're so used to seeing it in a box and to see it in real life as a show is completely different.

Hank: And it's not just watching the content in the box, it's having the relationship in the box. And online video is really, you know, having the personal connection is really important to online video and you bring that personal connection outta the box. And you know it's real, it's authentic when you're doing it, but it's more real. And it's bigger when you're doing it in the real world.

Shira: So, what's the next step with all of this? Is there going to be another conference?

Hank: You know you're crazy asking me to think about next year...

Shira: And I'm not going to make you put it out there right now, yeah.

Hank: No, I mean I think that there's no choice but to have it happen again. Umm, it's really hard work and I think that hopefully we'll be able to have it so that it's a little bit less work for me and we can share the load a little bit with other people who can help us out. Umm, and I, you know, I did everything from sponsor sales to customer service this time around so I don't wanna do it quite that way next time 'cause I haven't slept in a few weeks.

Shira: It's okay you seem up and alive.

Hank: Well I'm glad you think I seem up and alive. A lot of people keep walking up to me and like, "Man you look... tired." Ohh Ah I'm good.

Shira: This is what it's like in real life. You see me on a video camera.

Hank: I'm fine I'm fine I'm...

Shira: In terms of whats next though with the state of the industry because you've obviously been around to see it evolve.

Hank: Yeah, I mean I've got a lot of ideas about what's next and, uh, it's everything from you, know, personal content growing off of the internet onto television, uh, where you're having more personal relationships and your already seeing it with The Colbert Report and Jon Stewart where they're doing things with their communities like sponsoring the Olympic ski team, and you're also seeing shows like The Office where the characters are actually looking at the camera, where as it's a more personal thing. And I see that sort of branching, like kind of crossing over into television where people are more used to that experience. I see online video kind of creeping onto television, becoming more suitable for television, and that means, you know, more professional content, also more sort of formatted content. But I also see what we think of as online video continuing to grow in the ways where communities are getting together and doing cool things together and having fun. And it being all, all online. And now as a last point, I also see a lot of niches exploding. Like every, you know, every group of 10,000 people who has something in common, they can have an online video leader of sorts that can, you know, kind of almost, you know, make their whole living making niche content on YouTube and online video.

Shira: A lot of great stuff to look forward to.

Hank: I am very excited and I mean, I think it's obvious to everyone here and, uh, a lot of people in the entertainment industry that this is the very beginning of online video and the very beginning of a big, big shift in the way that people get entertained and the way that creators create.

Shira: Alright. Thank you for bringing this all together, for bringing me here, and bringing us here to create this. Thank you.

Hank: Yeah.

Shira: And thanks all of you for watching.

Hank: Well, thank you for coming. Thank you.

Shira: Oh, we need a hug. The positivity!

Hank: The positivity! I feel good.

Shira: I feel good, too!