NU Tube

By Drew Bonifant

After playing to a packed crowd at afterHOURS last year, stand-up comedian and ’06 Emerson alumnus Elisha Yaffe was looking for a new way to spread his exposure.

Youtube.com is famous for its multitude of movie trailers, music videos and homemade clips featuring people participating in various forms of debauchery.

Many aspiring filmmaking students are now turning to the popular video sharing website as a means to showcase their art and achieve greater recognition.

“It helps us reach a larger audience. It’s cool to see people in Germany watching your videos, your work,” he said. “We’re trying to create new work, and to see it get reviewed by hundreds of subscribers allows us to be very creative, and to raise the bar for ourselves. It’s allowed us to make a name for ourselves through the Internet.”

Yaffe’s videos, including his “Snakes on a Plane” parody called “Fly Snakes Fly,” which has received 16,075 hits and 75 ratings to date, have been featured on MTV, BBC and The Today Show. By far his greatest success has been videos of his comedy troupe, Zebro, which earned the attention of Kevin Bright, an executive producer for “Friends” and “Joey,” who ended up producing their Zebro TV pilot.

“YouTube helped people know our names and helped Bright recognize us,” he said. “Without YouTube we wouldn’t have had all the elements that have helped us.”

Sophomore journalism major Shaun Rooney regularly uploads videos on YouTube.com in hopes of achieving similar success. His contributions include a two-part documentary tracking the exploits of the fictional McDonald’s character the Hamburgler and a parody of the 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain” called “Man Love and Basketball.”

Rooney said he turned to YouTube.com after he exhausted most other avenues of self-promotion.

“We had the intention of putting (our video) up, but we first wanted to put it on DVD,” Rooney said. “With nowhere else to put it after that, we put it on the computer and on the net, and we got great feedback, and people were telling us to do more. Amateur filmmakers have a place to put media. It’s hard work to make the DVDs and get them out to people. With YouTube, it takes a lot less effort, and it is more accessible.”

The website allows members to rate videos and post comments on the clips. Many agree that this feature offers an opportunity for them to receive feedback on their work.

“We’ve made some stupid videos, expecting our friends to see them, but we’ll get comments from people we don’t even know, and that’s pretty cool, like a bonus,” Rooney said.

Matt Gendron, a sophomore management information systems major, first uploaded with a lip-sync video of West Side Story’s “I Feel Pretty” this past May. Since then he’s added a mix of silly antics with his friends, along with snowboarding and skateboarding videos.

“People will comment and give you pointers, and that helps you as a filmmaker,” he said. “[YouTube] also targets the audience that would want to watch your video, and that gets all the viewers you would want.”

The ease with which videos can also be uploaded also plays a factor. Videos are uploaded almost immediately and the website’s services are free.

YouTube’s backers are recognizing its potential by launching the first “YouTube Underground Contest” which gives aspiring, unsigned musicians the opportunity to compete for new equipment and a chance to play in a live show in New York City. The four winning bands will be unveiled on “Good Morning America” in November, according to the website.

Although YouTube.com provides great exposure and has the ability to drastically increae an audience, Yaffe said it takes more than simply uploading a few videos on the Internet to achieve real world success.

“Don’t lose sight of the human connection,” he said. “Balance the virtual world with the the human audience, they’re the ones that hug you, that you see laugh. Do it in conjunction with live performance, because its no good if you don’t do it live.”

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