Reviewing YouTube's "The Creators" Documentary

Friday 20 March 2015

In the past couple of years, YouTube as a platform has changed a lot. YouTubers have become celebrities, with followings of up to and above seven million, appearing on red carpets and television shows. It's a whole different world to the one I first fell in to five or six years ago now. So when I saw a trailer for the YouTube documentary "The Creators", featuring Zoella, TomSka and NikinSammy, I knew instantly it was something I wanted to watch.

Quick sidenote, before we get started - I've been watching videos and subscribing to channels on YouTube for about six years now. I then started my own channel three years ago, but only started posting regularly about eighteen months ago! I fell in love with the community in the early days, and the first channels I really engaged with were Michelle Phan, Kandee Johnson, Pixiwoo, Fleur de Force and Louise from Sprinkle of Glitter. I loved the interactiveness of YouTube, and the ability to comment to let someone know you enjoyed what they had made. To this day, I still check my YouTube subscription box daily, but I feel like I have managed to streamline the videos I watch - I used to subscribe to new channels constantly, whereas now, I'm a little more selective. The type of content I watch has also shifted, and I find myself favouring vlogs and chatty videos more than the tutorials and hauls I originally watched regularly.

But enough about me, and back to the documentary at hand. This 30minute film was produced by Anomaly London and funded by YouTube, directed by Oscar-nominee Nanette Burstein, and spends time with the faces behind three of Britain's most high profile YouTube channels - beauty and fashion vlogger Zoe "Zoella" Sugg, cartoon and sketch comedy artist Thomas "TomSka" Ridgewell, and up and coming twin brother comedy vlogging duo "NikinSammy".

In terms of the vloggers the film followed, it was an interesting selection for me. I knew one of them (Zoe) extremely well, another (Tom) fairly well, while the third, Niki and Sammy, I hadn't even heard of. I was first introduced to Zoe's videos through her friendship with Louise, and have followed along with her crazy successful journey ever since. Tom I know more from his appearances in other vloggers' videos. This documentary, however, might change that.

During the thirty minutes, the film explores the early days of these YouTuber's channels, as they discuss what made them start in the first place. It then goes on to explore the impact of their now huge fan bases, how they make money, what type of content they make and, basically, what it means to be a creator. They talk about the friends they've made through YouTube, and how their families responded to what they were doing in the earlier days. It packs quite a lot into just half an hour, which I was impressed with.

Particularly for Tom and for Zoe, the way YouTube has impacted on their lives has been incredible. When asked how YouTube had changed his life, Tom replied "YouTube is my life". Having been making content for the internet since before YouTube even existed, this has been his life for twelve years. He has over 3million subscribers, and you get the impression that he has worked really, really hard for that. He hasn't been an overnight success, or one of those YouTubers we're seeing appearing occasionally now, who seem to explode out of nowhere with half a million subscribers in the space of a few months. He has spent twelve years working away, building a community of fans who he affectionately says are "just like him". He talks about his desire to help people with his videos, and make a difference to the lives of his subscribers if he can, and it feels incredibly genuine, while at the same time, admitting that it's nearly impossible to be completely yourself in front of the camera. Despite the fact he's gone from messing around with the camera alone in his house, to having entire crews working on his content with him, he still seems like a genuinely down to earth person. A particularly interesting moment came when Tom was discussing the impact of the death of his friend and fellow YouTuber, Edd Gould of Eddsword, had not only on his life, but on his hopes for his future on YouTube.

I also just discovered Tom is a year to the day younger than me - which is actually a bit scary. Excellent birthday though!

The film also explores the intensity of living life as a high profile YouTuber - the camera follows Zoe and boyfriend Alfie going shopping, and every few yards another teenager stops them, practically hyperventilating with excitement at the prospect of getting a hug from, and a photo with, the Zoella. She talks about times she's found subscribers standing outside her house, waving at her from the street, or had letters pushed through her letterbox. Having watched videos like the footage of Alfie's London book signing, I was aware of how overwhelming that life would be - I just hadn't given as much thought to the idea that even once you are home, your privacy might still not be respected. Vloggers invite people into their lives through the camera, but the reality of that once the camera is switched off must be exhausting.

I'll be honest - it's quite clear that I am not the target viewer for NikiNSammy. However, they seemed like nice guys, who have found a formula that is working for them, and have managed to achieve success on YouTube at a time when it has become saturated with new content every hour of every day. Well done to them for that.

Overall, as a fan of YouTube, I'm glad I took the time to watch the The Creators. While I felt like I already had a pretty solid grasp on what it means to be a creator, hearing from these four was really interesting. I think they made a clever decision with the people they chose to focus on, in that they target fairly different audiences, and have been making videos for different lengths of time, making their experiences as content creators quite different.

If you're interested in the crazy phenomenon that is YouTube in 2015, then I'd definitely recommend checking out this short documentary.

What vloggers would you choose to feature in a film like this? Let me know - I always love discovering new channels to watch, so comment below with your suggestions!

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!


  1. I totally agree with what you think about The Creators. I watched it yesterday and found it so interesting, I love the variety of creators they chose and I think the fact that it was only 30 minutes long made it an ideal watch. It was so cool to see a bit more about life behind the camera! My brother has been watching Tomska's videos for a while but I didn't know much about him or the twins, only watching Zoella occasionally but I'm definitely going to check out Tomska's channels in the future. Not too fussed about the twins, but they're just not my sort of thing x

    Charlotte / Colours & Carousels

    1. Yeah, agreed, I can see why they appeal to a younger audience but it just isn't my cup of tea! Honestly, I don't watch Zoe's videos all that regularly now, but I watched her much more in the past just through vlogs with Louise! It's bizarre how much has changed in such a short space of time! x

    2. I totally agree the length and the people they chose to talk about was relevant to young people. I am definitely drawn to Zoella but I have found myself becoming more un-interested in her videos, I really enjoy the vlogs more than her hauls. (that's just not my thing)
      I think it's crazy how Youtube has grown and expanded! what next hey?!

      Em x

    3. I know! It's changed so much in the past three years, who knows what it'll look like three years from now!! x