While most aspiring cinematographers try to gain a reputation by appealing to established film professionals, a former BYU student is breaking the trend.
Devin Graham is taking a different approach, making an appeal instead to the whole world — through YouTube.
For Graham, it all started while directing one of the first commercials for Orabrush. The simple social media ad went viral, with more than 13 million views to date. In an effort to replicate Orabrush’s success, he decided to start his own YouTube channel, DevinSuperTramp, where every other Tuesday he posts videos for his 103,635 subscribers to see.
Graham’s decision to create a YouTube channel was inspired by a chance meeting at a social media gathering with YouTube sensation Joe Penna — the creator of the widely successful MysteryGuitarMan YouTube channel.
“I learned from Joe Penna that if you can develop a unique style and following, you’ll get noticed,” Graham said.
Penna had commercial offers from McDonald’s and Coca-Cola after only two years of posting his videos on YouTube videos. Graham hopes that similar opportunities will open up to him.
“I’m putting out completely new content, something that hasn’t ever been seen before,” Graham said. “YouTube allows me to have a voice. If enough people begin to listen, advertisers will want to utilize my voice to market their products and producers will want me to direct their films.”
Graham’s big break may come sooner than expected. Millions of viewers have helped many of Graham’s extreme sport videos go viral, attracting the attention of national and online media outlets. Recent history shows Hollywood studios also take note, monitoring the social media scene for new talent. According to newslite.tv, Mandate Studios offered director Federico Alvarez a $30 million contract to produce a longer version of his YouTube hit “Panic Attack!”, a film he produced on a meager $500 budget. The offer also included a chance to work with “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi.
Of course, if interest in social media-distributed films continues to increase, Graham may get his big shot without a studio nod.
Matt Koval, a filmmaker from Hyattville, Md., actually left the film industry to produce films using YouTube as his platform of distribution.
“I spent my teen-age years making short films and showing them to friends and family,” Koval told his YouTube viewers. “To me, filmmaking was very simple. You’d create something and show an audience.”
However, after he moved to Los Angeles, Koval found the process of distributing Hollywood films to an audience was much more complicated.
“The old Hollywood system frustrated me,” Koval said. “All I wanted to do was make films and show people.”
Koval began producing and distributing short movies through YouTube, where he gained popularity. To date he has amassed more than 130,000 subscribers.
If Graham follows a similar path, he may get to skip the Hollywood scene altogether.
For more information on Graham, students can visit youtube.com/DevinSuperTramp or view his blog at devingraham.blogspot.com.