EXCLUSIVE Interview with Corey Vidal!

By: Alexandria McLean | @itbalexandria

Corey Vidal

Buffer Festival, a three-day event that applauds YouTube content, is celebrating its second annual run through this weekend. Taking place in theatres across Toronto’s entertainment district, over one hundred YouTubers from around the world will be spending October 17-19thin Toronto to premiere new videos, and celebrate content created by others.

YouTubers will premiere new, and never-before-seen content at 90-minute-screenings followed by two hour meetups where Youtube content creators can meet with their viewers and screening attendees. Amongst these YouTubers are Jennxpenn, Charlieissocoollike and JacksGap.

With multiple sold out screenings, the second year of Buffer Festival is sure to be a hit. One of the people to thank for this awesome event is Corey Vidal.

Canadian YouTuber Corey Vidal wanted to create an event that would allow YouTubers to share their content in a film-festival-like-way. The Magazine caught up with Corey who told us more about Buffer Festival and his favourite aspect of the three-day event.

The Magazine: How would you describe Buffer Festival?

Corey: If somebody wasn’t aware of Buffer Festival at all, I would tell them that it is the YouTube version of the Toronto International Film Festival. It is based off of the Toronto International Film Festival but instead of films, it is YouTube videos. We have a bunch of theatrical screenings. They are like a movie length, about an hour and a half, but instead of watching one long video, you are watching a bunch of short films. Those can be action stuff, comedy stuff, sketches, educational stuff, vlogs. There is a lot of different types of content, but it is all about watching shortish videos but up on the big screen. Really high quality stuff.

The Magazine: This is its second year that Buffer Festival is taking place, how has it grown and changed since last year?

Corey: It is a lot bigger this year. There are a lot more YouTubers coming and it is more international. There are a lot of filmmakers coming from the United Kingdom, a lot of filmmakers coming from the US. When we threw it last year, I could tell that nobody really got it before it happened. No one really understood what it was. There really isn’t any event like this in the world. There are all kinds of YouTube events, but they are conventions and conferences and stuff like that. Those are great, but I really felt like there was a place for a film festival. This year, all the filmmakers get it. They put a lot of work into their videos. They are excited to premiere it on the big screen. We have seen what these really high quality videos look like on the big screen and it looks incredible.

The Magazine: How did you first come up with the idea for Buffer Festival? 

Corey: I am from Ontario and I go to the Toronto International Film Festival every year and I love it. I love film. I remember specifically in 2011 I went. I went to a couple red carpets, and I went to a couple premieres, and I met a couple actors and it was incredible. It was such a cool experience. I remember seeing the director of the movie 50/50. He premiered the movie and he had never watched it like that before. All the cast was there, all the actors and actresses, and they had never watched it like that before. I was watching him right when the movie finished, and it was such an incredible experience for him. I walked away from the Toronto International Film Festival saying to myself “Why doesn’t that exist for YouTube?” We are not making Hollywood pictures, but we are putting crazy work into these videos. It drives me nuts when I make a really high quality video and someone watches it on their phone. Ohh, it breaks my heart! You could watch a Hollywood movie on your phone and you would get it, but it is not a theatrical experience or watching it on Blu-ray at home really loudly and YouTube is kind of missing that. But, I think the quality is there. We have proven that the fans are willing to come out. We have sold out a ton of shows already.

The Magazine: What is your favourite part about Buffer Festival?

Corey: The screenings. For me, there is a lot going on and you can have red carpets, and you can have meetups and you can have panels and you can do all kinds of cool activations and parties, but for me getting in a theatre with friends and having popcorn and pop and the buzz before the show starts, and the lights dim and it goes dark, and something comes up on the screen. Man! That is one of my favourite feelings in the world! I love it! I go to the movies all the time. It is my favourite thing to do. That experience around YouTube videos is so great. To play a video and hear five hundred people laugh in unison. If you are watching something by yourself at home you may chuckle and think “oh, that’s funny,” but being in that big room filled with that energy, it is a completely different experience.

The Magazine: Your most popular video to date is your Star Wars Acapella Tribute, which has over 19 million views! How did you get the idea for that video?

Corey: You have to kind of go back to the earlier days of YouTube. There was a time where making a lip-sync video was popular. That was a thing, a really long time ago! I thought, what would it look like if somebody made a lip-sync video to an acapella song. Now, I am a really big Star Wars fan. There was the Star Wars song I really loved and I reached out to the acapella group telling them that I wanted to do a lip-sync video to their song. They totally supported it, and sent me the four parts, and helped me memorize it. I put up the video, just as a lip-sync video and I didn’t expect anybody to think it was me singing. I also didn’t expect anyone to see it. I thought maybe a couple hundred people, maybe a couple thousand people and that was it. It wasn’t really a serious thing but it got featured on YouTube and YouTube put it on their Canadian homepage. A couple days later they put it on their worldwide homepage and it got a ton of views. A bunch of companies reached out to me, marketing agencies and advertising agencies and sponsors and from there people discovered my other YouTube videos and I had dozens already uploaded. That lead to a lot of other opportunities and I told myself that I did not want to be a one hit wonder. I was not going to do another acapella video like that, because it is not me singing. I am going to take this opportunity and use it to make cool short films and skits and interactive videos and I am going to go pursue that. And I did! Across 2009 and 2010 I did that by myself and in 2011 I started a company. We do a lot of big projects and Buffer Festival is now our biggest.

The Magazine: As you mentioned, you are a big Star Wars fan. What was going through your head when Star Wars tweeted about Buffer Festival?

Corey: My team and I made a video with Lucas Film this year. They actually reached out to us at the beginning of the year, looking for YouTubers to make content to go along with the announcement of the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII, which was leading up to a holiday Star Wars celebrates every year which is May 4th. They say, “May the 4th be with you.” They asked if I had any ideas, and I pitched them an idea and they flew my team and I to Burbank, California and we shot on the sets of Star Wars. It was awesome! While I was there we talked about them wanting to do a lot of YouTube stuff and I told them about Buffer! They thought it was really cool and asked who does that. I was like “I do!” I was like selling myself to them but they were interested and we talked about it for months and months and they decided to come and have a screening. There is a Star Wars screening October 17th at 8:00PM showcasing Star Wars fan films. I worked with Lucas Films very closely to pick a bunch of videos that are very popular fan films and a bunch of YouTubers are premiering a bunch of new videos specifically for the Star Wars screening.

Thanks Corey!

Tickets are still available for screenings at this year’s Buffer Festival. Click here for more information.

(Photo Credit: Corey Vidal)

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