Welcome back to the second half of our video “star” qualities post! Part I included being creative, relatable, resourceful, a good storyteller, and having a sense of humor. Without further adieu, here are five more qualities some of the best videographers share. Do you possess them yourself?
6. Point of View
The best fashion designers have their own point-of-view – an aesthetic that is uniquely their own. The same goes for online superstars. Whether you are a director or actor, staying true to yourself can be a huge payoff. Web superstars often take on a cult of personality. Their points of view, be it fashion, music, art, or worldviews convert us into loyal fans, watching their videos and following their social media. You cannot write about online superstars without mentioning Korean pop star Psy. Call him enigmatic. Call him quirky. Whatever that special something is, Psy most definitely has his own point-of-view, one that has enabled him to horsey-dance into the hearts of over 2 billion people online. In some ways he is an unlikely international sensation. Psy is his own person. Not taking himself too seriously, at first glance he seems like an average, middle-aged guy who has become an international superstar. Trying to articulate exactly what Psy’s special something is, is hard. Simply, Psy is amazing.
7. Jack (or Jill) of all Trades
If you have ever made an online video you probably know that you have to be somewhat of a renaissance person: writer, producer, director, editor, actor, actor wrangler… Successful web superstars have their hand in all the components of their film, taking on the role of creator-actor-extraordinaire. This is a much different type of ownership than we see in mainstream media, where clearly delineated roles are more common.
Felicia Day is an Internet darling. She is also one of those renaissance women. Day has a loyal following of fanboys, gamer girls, and people who just generally adore her. In between small roles on a number of television shows (including Whedon’s “Buffy”), Day was spending her time playing World of Warcraft – a lot of World of Warcraft. She found inspiration in her adventures in Azeroth, coming up with an idea for a web series based on gamer stereotypes and in-game interactions with guild members. Day calls the series her “baby”, and with good reason. From start to finish, Day had a hand in everything, writing, fundraising, gathering talented friends, and starring in the series. Determined to stay independent, she worked out a deal with Xbox to fund the second season. A year later, her role as ‘Penny’ in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Song, introduced a new audience to her series, fueling the show’s popularity. The series has since been released on DVD and is now a comic series.
Some of the most influential online superstars are the ones that are not afraid to tell the truth, ripping off the filter of traditional media. Kevin Sites is to blogging what Robert Capa was to photography. Formerly a war correspondent for major networks, Sites took to video blogging to capture and comment on footage that could not be aired on television. After capturing a mosque shooting during the Battle of Fallujah, Sites decided to use the web to air footage that had been edited out by NBC. Yahoo News eventually offered Sites his own web series, “Kevin Sites In the Hot Zone,” which placed the journalist squarely in war zones around the world. The series was funded solely by Yahoo, as advertisers were too scared to attach their name to the project. A controversial figure, lauded by some and criticized by others, he is seen as a pioneer of ‘sojo’ or solo journalism. Sites works alone: his backpack and camera are his only crewmembers. His blog entries have given viewers a graphic glimpse of what it looks like to be in the middle of war, and highlight the human impact of a crisis.
9. Energetic Conversation Starters
The best web series hosts start a discourse with the viewer, a discourse that viewers are inclined to continue. These discourses encourage you to think, and are intelligent narratives on scientific, political, cultural, and social topics. The energy of theses hosts oozes through your screen, making the most mundane topic an exciting slap-in-the-face.
Mike Rugnetta is one of these personalities. Rugnetta is the face and the brain behind PBS’ Webby Award winning series “The Idea Channel.” Rugnetta writes like a doctoral student with a secret passion for Sailor Moon. His commentaries are well-written, clever, and insightful. He clearly engages his audience: the comment sections of his videos are full of philosophical banter, with viewers referencing everything from Dungeons and Dragons manuals to Nietzsche. His videos cover topics like “Is DubStep Avant Garde Musical Genius’ and “Is Buying Call of Duty a Moral Choice,” infusing pop culture with historical fact and academic theory. After watching Rugnetta’s entries you will long to meet him at a pub for a beer and conversation.
Last, but not least, becoming an online superstar takes some ingenuity. Online filmmaking requires the ability to creatively solve problems. There is a certain air of cleverness surrounding web stars, be they writers, filmmakers, producers, or actors. Or, as we have learned in this post, all of the above. Since 2008, Maru the Scottish Fold cat has been cleverly stuffing his voluptuous body into boxes and bags. Highly analytical, Maru is constantly evaluating his environment, deftly figuring out how to open trashcans or find his way out of the bathroom sink. He is not always described as the smartest cat on the Internet, but he has squeezed into our hearts and mastered the art of becoming an Internet superstar.