Gen Z: A New Era of Filmmaking
As we have seen in recent years, social media has become a staple for the new generation of teenagers and young adults, specifically those born between the years 1995 and 2015. Whether they were posting lip-sync covers on YouTube when the platform first launched in 2005 or posting cringeworthy memes on their Instagram when it began in 2010, there has been an exponential use of the Internet and the various social networking services it has to offer since the beginning of the 2000s.
Thanks to the expansive usage, many have even found these platforms to be places to express their creativity by uploading videos to YouTube or posting pictures on Instagram, consequently making them outlets for aspiring filmmakers and actors to find a gateway to the entertainment industry.
When YouTube first launched, creators such as Ryan Higa (nigahiga), Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox (Smosh), and Philip DeFranco, started off making and uploading videos for fun. However, because of the novelty of this new website attracting various amounts of users, their videos ended up going viral, and eventually encouraged these creators to take on YouTube full-time. This also led YouTube to start monetizing videos (putting ads on videos), which in turn would pay qualifying users when they upload a video and get a certain number of views and subscribers in mid-2007. At that time, the general public was wary of the idea of becoming a “social media influencer” or “YouTuber,” as many believed it was just an attempt to get a TV show, movie role, or a record deal.
No one imagined that creating YouTube videos would actually become a viable career choice, but according to this article, 75 percent of children and teens aged 6 to 17 want to pursue being a “YouTubing” career. And, since 2012, there have been other avenues for any average Joe who wants to create original content besides YouTube.
2012 saw the launch of Vine, an app where users could create 6-second long video clips, and much like YouTube, this jumpstarted the careers of many video creators like King Bach, Lele Pons, and Thomas Sanders, to name a few. However, the app was soon shut down in January 2017, which was also the year Facebook Watch launched, which the company said they were “willing to spend up to $1 billion on original video content through 2018.” Fast forward to 2018, Instagram launched IGTV and Snapchat started putting out Snapchat Originals, and since 2019, Tiktok skyrocketed in popularity and has become the most popular video-sharing app of all time, with over 800 million active users.
Once you get past the cute animals and cringe hashtag trends, there are plenty of promising actors, visual effects artists, and filmmakers on these apps. Just recently, in fact, 20-year-old Tiktok user Julian Bass went viral for his self-taught editing and graphics skills showcased in this Tiktok, and it even caught the attention of Disney’s executive chairman Bob Iger. Nothing has been put out about Bass being hired by Disney, but being noticed is only the beginning for him.
Another example of young creatives on social media would be the film students behind the semi-viral web series, Life as a Mermaid. This series was entirely created by students from Columbia College Hollywood, a 4-year arts college in Tarzana, California, which ended with four seasons and over 86 million total views overall.
Throughout the last few decades, the Internet has grown much larger and faster than anyone could have imagined, and this has affected the current generation most. Because of websites such as YouTube and social media platforms like Tiktok, filmmaking has recently become a hobby and even a career for many teenagers and young adults. And thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very likely that newfound interest in creating short videos will transform into a passion for filmmaking.