Roll Tape

A look into Casey Neistat’s documentary premiere at SXSW

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Casey Neistat Releases a Documentary on David Dobrik

nrkbeta / Flickr

Last week the YouTube vlogger and filmmaker spoke at SXSW following the premiere of his documentary on David Dobrik, Under the Influence

Neistat has been working on the doc since 2019. Its original intent was to document the evolution of the 25-year-old vlogger from low-budget prankster to major media figure, but it switched gears after a 2021 Insider article uncovered assault allegations regarding one of Dobrik’s videos. Neistat captured Dobrik on film when the news went viral and the documentary largely centers on the events surrounding the allegations.

At SXSW, Neistat shared his ethics and process when creating the documentary, how the allegations changed the direction of the film, and the way Dobrik’s story challenges the public’s perception of being a creator.

Below are standouts from the SXSW Q&A (edited and condensed for clarity):

On Dobrik’s influence: “Whether you like the content or not, David Dobrik in four years has done 7 billion views. That's 70 times as many views as the Super Bowl did this year.”

On interviewing Dobrik about the allegations: “The questions I asked David on camera were the diet versions of the confrontation that I did with him as a friend,” Neistat said. “And I think he appreciated that. But also as a friend, it's difficult being challenged by somebody you respect. I respect David and I think that he respected me.”

On the importance of legal accountability: “There's a reason why these systems exist in industries as old as television.” Neistat said. “But in these new found spaces, I don't think that they're there, and the burden returns to [the creator].”

Our Take

This film will likely land with a major streamer like HBO or Netflix. When it comes out, Under the Influence will give mass audiences a never-before-seen look into the unparalleled level of fame that David Dobrik achieved via social media and the harmful effects that stemmed from it. 

Dylan Hyper’s New YouTube Channel Takes Off

Dylan / YouTube

The creator known for challenge and Roblox videos started a new channel in January. He uploaded the channel’s first video, I Bought 10,000 MrBeast Chocolate Bars, late last month and it’s already received over 4 million views, and brought his subscriber count to 150,000.

His first channel, Hyper, amassed over 2 million followers in ten years. He started the channel creating Roblox and Minecraft videos, then turned to challenge videos over time. 

In December he stopped uploading to Hyper to focus on this new venture. When asked on Twitter why he started a new channel, Dylan said “[It’s] all about the audience. Just because [Hyper] has 2M subscribers, doesn’t mean the channel will be able to convert to an IRL audience.” 

Dylan plans to make the new channel exclusively real-life content, without any gaming, so he can focus on that audience instead of building challenge videos with a primarily roblox and minecraft-based audience.

Our Take

Abandoning years of work and over 2 million subscribers is a terrifying proposition but in this instance for Dylan, it was the right move. YouTube channels are like shows, not networks. A good show delivers the same value prop to the same audience every time. Because Dylan's new content is meant for a different audience, it requires its own channel.

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The Try Guys Reveal Their New Office and Studio

Architectural Digest / YouTube

Last week the ex-Buzzfeed staffers turned independent creators gave Architectural Digest a tour of their new California workspace. 

The features are specific to a YouTube-focused media company, where every room is filmable, and has visual moments like accent walls and props that make good backgrounds for videos. They also soundproofed every room, including the kitchen, and put translucent screens on street-facing windows to allow natural light to enter while maintaining privacy.

Our Take

Just weeks after profiling Gwenyth Paltrow’s new home, Architectural Digest’s coverage of The Try Guys validates how far they’ve come as creators, and their space shows what the future of media companies might look like—fewer fluorescent-lit cubicles, more light and airy film space. 

🔥 Press Worthy

  • Good Mythical Morning producer Stevie launches a podcast.

  • Instagram unveils a new creator education portal.

  • Cameo is beta testing merch.

  • Johnny Harris is hiring freelance writers, researchers, animators and editors.

  • Rooster Teeth, a production company, launches a digital creators program.

  • ​​Follow Colin and Samir to join their Twitter Spaces on Wednesday at 7pm ET, when they'll talk about creators, media, and this very newsletter.