Producer, director and writer *aka triple threat* Elisar Cabrera is a guy you want to get advice from. Just check out his extensive IMDB profile.
We chatted about how he made it in the industry, started the Raindance Web Festival AND how you can become a money-making YouTuber.
Get ready to learn A LOT from this super knowledgable guy.
1. Where did you start?
I’d always been interested in film, always wanted to work in film. If that’s a career path you want to do, you know it quite young. Anything within that creative industry you help out wherever you can, as a runner on the film set normally. You become a sponge and learn what everyone’s roles are and how they fit into the production of the film. For me, it was all about learning as you go along even though I didn’t study film.
Back then it cost money to process film so you had to be careful with what you shot. Nowadays everybody has film cameras in their pockets so the process of actually making film teaches you discipline. It’s also a different discipline working on a film set team as well.
I kept working until I ended up in Los Angeles working with some friends who introduced me to a production company. They gave me some money to go and make film and that was tha
2. Would you advise a young person to get qualified in film?
There are two types of path. There’s an operations path where you learn about the technology, sound, lighting music – those things you do need to study because you have to learn about things like how light works relative to how the camera perceives them. If you want to be an all-rounder, you should study.
On the creative side of things like writing, directing and producing – yes, it is still helpful to be trained. You can be a talented writer but you need to learn the discipline and the expectations of your coworkers. It’s all well and good sitting in your room and coming up with what you think is a work of art. But the reality is that if you’re working with other people in broadcasting or film, they’ll be lots of other people with opinions about what those words should be.
I’ve heard stories of YouTubers that have only worked on their own so when they come to shoot on film sets they don’t know what everybody does, they feel out of their depth.
3. Do you think YouTubing is a realistic film-making goal?
I think it’s less realistic now. People like Alfie Deyes and Zoella have been doing it for a few years. They’ve built their audience over time and were also running at this zeitgeist moment where there was this huge explosion in interest in YouTubers.
Someone coming in now would find it difficult unless they were cornering a certain niche that wasn’t being covered by other YouTubers. If you were a talented make-up artist/model, you could find your niche in the Zoella beauty market because there are still beauty brands looking for faces. Men’s is a bit more cutthroat because brands don’t tend to stick with the same faces.
As brands diversify what they think the kind of person who should be showcasing their product so hopefully we’ll see more and more black beauty vloggers becoming more prominent. H&M just signed their first model who wears a hijab, there’s opportunities along ethnicity lines too. If you were getting into beauty vlogging now, you’re better off trying to hit those specialised niches. Young people need to look beyond YouTube for success. What are the social media outlets people are using to get their content across? Over in America, young comic types are using Vine and becoming very successful. I think it’s more talented, when you’ve only got 7 seconds to get across a joke you’ve to be very creative with the way you write and perform that. The Youtubers of the next couple of years will be Viners and Snapchatters. There are opportunities so many different ways to make content and get it out there.
4. Do you think that Youtube will die out and all video will be channeled to Facebook?
I don’t think so. I think video will be on a lot of different social media platforms but the time of having your video on just one platform will change. It’s all about finding the best platform to put your video and finding what platform your audience will be using. As filmmakers we need to think about cross-platform storytelling, using different platforms for different types of story. There are far more options than there were five years ago, it’s about spending time and strategizing. If you want to be a filmmaker, you need to think about it as much in business way as a creative way. You’re not just a creator – you’re a producer, a distributor and marketer, all those jobs are under your control. You need to think about how each of those items are reflecting what you’re making and how to get it to the people who want it. It’s a matter of having the discipline to plan.
5. What do you think about unpaid work experience? Do you think people can be exploited?
I do think people can be exploited. It was always just a given that’s how you got into the industry, you work for free for someone. Nowadays we are much more aware, we have national minimum wage laws that affect that attitude. The established production companies shouldn’t be advertising free runner work, they should always be paying. It’s a different thing if you volunteer for a friend who’s making a film. I would be wary for production companies looking for free runners, in this day and age it breaks working laws but at the same time you also have to recognise there’s a lot of people making stuff on youtube on vine who aren’t spending budgets, they’re just learning and testing as they go.
6. Can you tell us about the Raindance Film Festival?
Raindance Film Festival has existed for 23 years but right now the most exciting area is online where creators are making web-series. I pitched them the idea of creating the Raindance Web Fest that would run alongside the Film Festival that would concentrate on online film. We think of it as not just a showcase of web-series but also an educational tool. I think the education of how to make online videos, from a business perspective, is what is lacking in a lot of filmmakers.
We put on educational programmes and guest speakers to impart their knowledge to the attending creators. It’s a fun event where creators can meet other creators and swap stories and advise each other but also learn from AOL or from Youtube or from Time Inc. These are the people who are making online content in a more commercial way so online filmmakers can learn from them.
If you’ve made a web series of at least three episodes you go to the Raindance Webfest and submit like any other film festival. Then the programmers assess all the submissions and make a selection of the best of the bunch. These get invited to a screening at the Vue cinema at Piccadilly Circus and you can invite your friends and family. It’s an incredible opportunity.
Find out more about the Raindance Web Festival here.