Why Vlogs is one of my favourite Art Forms?

Have you ever ran to the nearest mall to see your favourite actor in flesh n bones? Or couldn’t stop narrating how you once ran into the National Team Player in a Hotel Lobby? To me, these stories has always felt hollow. Incidents like these don’t count as a memory in my diary. I need more. Maybe a brief conversation with that person, a live performance, or a good speech. I guess I can safely say I have never indulged in typical fandom. Until, I discovered Vlogging.

Vlogging is a sub-genre of filmmaking that had always felt a bit mundane to me. Why would I wanna see a person carry around his camera all day, capture everything and dump it all in a video. Lazy Narration and Low Production is not what I wanna watch in a film.

There are few art forms that can be cited as condescending as vlogging. To assume people should care about what you’ve to say is in itself a bit condescending. In this context, Vlogging as a product seems to be just feeding off of people’s addiction to indulge in famous lives.

When arguably the most acclaimed vlogger, Casey Neistat, started his vlog, his wife Candice saw it as egotistical, an attempt to “be famous for just being famous.”

BUT

Casey Neistat saw vlogging as using your life as a narrative for a daily series. He made two choices which changed vlogging forever :

  1. “My goal has never been to share all the initimacies of my life. This ain’t a journal. I want to share a STORY — typically a three act narrative. A entertaining piece of content based on his life – his perspective… everyday.”
  2. “I constantly want to UP the production level and make every video seem more like a Movie.”
Picture by Nerdwriter (Evan Pushack)

A DSLR on a gorilla pod is way heavier to carry around all day than any hand-held vlogging camera from the past. I say past because everybody switched to this rig after Casey introduced it to the platform. Just like everyone else, Casey employs a variety of cameras for his videos. As Evan Pushack explains in his video essay, “each camera and each lens has it’s own personality and Neistat is constantly switching them around.” The fact that he carries such a heavy rig is itself evident of the fact that he wants the show to look real, not be real.

The camera becomes a part of the show and this realism is what gives the viewer a raw slice of life. Sitting in India, my impression of New York is largely based on what Casey has depicted and less based on 100s of episodes across various NYC sitcoms.

I believe the choices that Casey takes with his content parallels the choices we make when sharing our day with a friend. If you like telling stories, you never start out chronologically morning to evening, but instead you pick your set of events and introduce relevant context, warp space and time to build an interesting story as in a video edit. The art is in the edit. These simple stories told day after day contributes to the image that your friend has of you.

An entire vlogging culture has taken over the platform with each creator sharing their daily perspectives. Vlogging feeds off  of the same curiosity that makes us talk to strangers while travelling. That’s the effect a daily series based on someone’s life create – that of a distant friend.

Vlogs are animated by the personality of the creator, uploaded without any filter between the creator and the person. I think meeting Casey will be very much like meeting a friend. You’re NOT caught off-guard by the question, “How is the celebrity in real life?” I exactly know how Casey is with his fans, family and colleagues as I have seen it in tens of vlogs.

The stories that our friends tell us, strangers on our travels tell us, are of some actual value to us. Insta-stories and Snapchat are popular for the same reason. YouTube has successfully commoditized these stories and provided a business for people who used to just love telling their stories to their friends.

Call it fandom, but buying Casey’s merch is a souvenir to these direct, unfiltered relationship developed over the years. I went from not liking the art-form to indulging in ‘fandom’ for the very first time. Filmmaking is now a sport. CN is, indeed, my Creative Hero!

I keep dabbling with the idea of starting a vlog someday.

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Author: Abhishek Agarwal

"My most clear memories are those of the moments which seemed to cause a cognitive development in me."

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