Photos by Janine Van Oostrom
During the weekend of October 20th to the 23rd Toronto hosted the 4th annual Buffer Festival. For those unaware, Buffer Festival is an annual showcase of YouTube video premieres, bringing the most acclaimed digital creators and their audiences together. One could even say it is like a TIFF but for Youtube based material. Founder Corey Vidal and his ‘ApprenticeEh’ team started the festival back in 2012 where Vidal simply starting asking his friends he had made through Youtube to come out to Toronto to show some videos to an audience. Four years later the team had managed to bring in over 100 featured creators for this year’s festival. For those who are familiar with Buffer Festival, this year was a little different from types of screenings, prices, and different technological strategies used. Rather than simply screening different videos and films, the festival offered “Red Carpets” where people could meet the creators following the screening. Also offered were “Spotlight Screenings” which were hour long sessions dedicated to one creator or video that was so anticipated it needed to have its own time slot. There were also educational workshops, exhibits set up by sponsors, and an entire day (Friday Oct. 21st) dedicated to the press where creators were interviewed by different outlets (like us!) It was obviously impossible to attend every screening, spotlight and workshop but we’ll be discussing some of the more popular screenings, the ones that stood out, and the ones that fell short.
The Comedy Screening was entertaining from beginning to end. Some videos made me smile, others made me chuckle to myself in my seat, and a few even had me LOL-ing. Some of the Youtubers that were featured in this screening were Adande Thorne or sWooZie known by his fans and followers. The video he showed was a skit about filming his next action packed video. The video itself was nothing special but had its funny moments and did not leave the fans disappointed. Along the same lines of comedy was another skit by popular Youtuber Timothy DeLaGhetto in which him and his friend Rick discover that their food truck where they sell Thai food is actually a time machine that takes them on crazy adventures (hence the name ‘Thai Machine’, see what he did there?) There were a few funny jokes here and there but it wasn’t the best thing I’ve seen from him. An entertaining and very clever video created by Jon Cozart parodied the United States Presidential Debate however the theatres audio and fast rapping/singing made it hard to understand what he was saying at times; needed subtitles. A group that caught my eye were the Tin Can Brothers (Brian Rosenthal, Corey Lubowich, & Joey Richter) and their video ‘Flop Stoppers’. It was a bit long for a comedy video but still managed to capture the audience with their perfectly timed jokes and impressive musical numbers. Youtuber Mike Falzone stole the show with his comedy video as well which was a clip of his stand-up routine he has been working on for many years. The routine was perfectly executed (along with some funny improv as well) and is worth checking out. Finally, my personal favourite of the screening was one of the last videos shown: The Watercooler by Will Darbyshire and Adrian Bliss. This video has everyone in the theatre including the other Youtubers cracking up with endless comedic silences and dark humour. It has five 2-3 minute episodes and each present a day of the week at the office with main characters John and Bill. It was definitely the most unique video of the screening and those with darker senses of humour will definitely enjoy it. All in all it was a very good screening with the really good videos that premiered having made up for the just okay ones.
Travel & Adventure Screening:
The Travel & Adventure screening is always a fan favourite and most of the Youtubers featured have a very strong fan base. The screening started out with a short and simple video by Nadine Sykora (Hey Nadine) presenting different tips and things to remember when travelling. Although it was too short to leave a huge impression, this girl has made some pretty awesome videos and has gone on some amazing looking trips. Toronto Youtuber Kristen Sarah also had a nice video regarding many travel tips. Both videos were informative without being boring! Other videos to take note of were filmmaker Sawyer Hartman first try at a travel video with many cool drone shots and Riyadh Khalaf (normally a comedy vlogger) who took on a more serious approach to tell his story about moving away from his Ireland home to find a new home in London. A crowd favourite was Louis Cole’s (FunforLouis) video exploring an active volcano. Everyone in the theatre felt just as much intensity as Louis probably did filming that video. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and just the way he captured everything on film left everyone awestruck and that wasn’t even the highlight. Hands down the best two videos of the screenings were the ‘Arctic’ videos shot by Tim Kellner and Ben Brown. Both filmmakers along with famous Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, son Evan, and about ten others went on an 18 day expedition to the Arctic so truly capture the beauty of this forgotten northern destination. Kellner (timtothewild) captured more of a dark and cold Arctic with senses of loneliness and mystery while Brown (Mr Ben Brown) captured a lighter and more adventurous video capturing the vast openness of the area. Both videos are definitely worth checking out on their channels but nothing will beat experiencing them in a theatre.
Daily Vloggers Screening:
My first impression of the Daily Vloggers screening was that it was going to be quite boring because I was not familiar with a lot of the featured creators and I thought a lot of the videos were going to be similar in style. However I was pleasantly surprised with how heartwarming the entire screening felt and how everyone was so supportive of each other. Fan favourite Bryan Lanning presented his video which described everything he had to prepare in order to record an album. I didn’t really consider it a ‘daily vlog’ but the audience still enjoyed it. There was LaToya Forever who showed her vlog of the birth of her son. It dragged out a bit too long and was a bit graphic at times but was still entertaining nonetheless. Louis Cole who was also featured in this screening presented a different approach to the normally shot first person vlog. His video was a day spent in Amsterdam with his girlfriend and while it was beautifully shot, it was a little cringey to watch at times because it was too cute (and yes, there is such a thing as TOO CUTE). An up-and-coming Youtuber and first time Buffer Festival panellist Kent Heckel impressed not only the audience but the other big name Youtubers on stage with his college vlog and well executed comedic timing. Finally there was Julien Solomita and his video ‘what is a vlog?’ that stood out to everyone and earned him the longest and loudest applause of the screening. Again, instead of the video actually being a daily vlog, it perfectly explained what a vlog is and the pros and cons of video making. The screening ended with a trailer for a full length documentary produced by Corey Vidal, popular Youtuber Shay Carl with many others contributing as well. “Vlogumentary” describes what vlogging is and how it has taken over in the New Media industry. I for one am not paying to watch this on YoutubeRed anytime soon but perhaps if it comes out on Netflix I’ll give it a watch.
Short Films Screening:
The last screening we saw was the Short Films screening late Sunday night. Being the last screening of the festival (and loving it last year) I was definitely looking forward to the different films that were chosen to be shown. However, I was quite disappointed right off the bat with one of the first films by popular Youtuber and musician Ricky Dillon. “The Youtuber Killer” was poorly scripted, casting was mediocre, and it just didn’t fit the image of what the Short Film screening should be. Even though I didn’t even crack a smile, it definitely belonged in the comedy screening (if any screening at all). Following the trend of bad acting was the adorable Michael Murphy’s short film about high school. You can definitely tell the actors he chose had zero acting experience and the storyline was a little cliché however the shots were nice and he’s just so dang cute it’s hard to hate anything he produces. Another stand out was popular Youtuber Olan Roger’s animated short film ‘The Lion’s Blaze’. The storyline was great, jokes perfectly timed, and characters you automatically fell in love with and left you wanting more. This will definitely become a popular series on his channel so make sure to subscribe, you will not regret it. Other than that, the rest of the films were nothing special. Honestly they were all quite boring, too long, or both unfortunately which left me feeling dissatisfied. The only other worth noting was a trailer for a short film by Bertie Gilbert called ‘Playground’ which peeked interest with its interesting potential storyline and amazing child actors. The trailer was so good it earned Gilbert his own spotlight screening where he discussed one on one with an audience about the upcoming film.