IS THIS THING ON?
Confession: I have made two YouTube videos in my lifetime. Excluding this one. Both were introductions; one was decorated with clips of me making baked goods with my cousin and talking about toasting marshmallows, and the other welcomed folk to my film-focused YouTube channel. Neither made their way onto the net. And, whilst I’m endlessly relieved that others avoided seeing the absolute-cringe-fest that was my robotic, teenage self, I’m a little curious... Could they have been the start of something great?
It was the anxious, perfectionist in me that halted those videos in their tracks. As well as any endeavours, or even lines of thinking in that direction, since. It just felt too big and too scary. I put the idea down, forgot all about it, and that was that.
The video making I’ve done since has been exclusively for university submissions and in my previous job as a Video Editor. These spaces felt safer because I had some sort of guideline to work to, and, even if I was working on something alone, I was operating within a group of people that had my back. The pressure was alleviated when it didn’t just come down to me. Even if a video idea was mine or I was the one piecing everything together, I didn’t find making content for these clients troublesome, because we were all working towards the same goal.
It wasn’t until I was in my final months of working in my previous job, that I started to notice my creative itch coming back; it was a pull in a direction I didn’t expect, but a feeling I understood… I wanted to make something. I wanted to make a video. Yet, I had absolutely no idea where to start. And, as you may have already been able to tell, first videos aren’t really my forte, and I am still very much the same perfectionist - even if I have experienced a decrease in anxiety since then!
Perfectionism is something that, instead of helping me hone my craft, has left me too picky to work on it at all. I find that I don’t get started on projects because I’m too busy overthinking them. The overwhelm from this is exhausting, and, in order to get on with my life, I’ve found that it’s wiser for me to park an idea than pursue it… But that’s deflating. It’s disappointing. And it’s unfair. I don’t want my own brain to stand in the way of me getting anywhere, with any sort of video, forever. Just having this thought majorly sucked. Big time sucked. Like, officially The Worst.
Initially, the saying “old habits die [so, so, so very] hard” rang true. I finally decided that I was going to start a YouTube channel and make my first video. In retrospect, I was already operating in entirely the wrong order, but, as someone who likes to start anything they do from the beginning (Something I now understand its not always the best idea), I was thinking about getting the channel up and running, before I thought about the content on it. This made me feel like I needed to bash out a video as soon as possible, which sent my brain into overdrive.
What should the video be about? How much of myself should I include in it? How many editing styles should I work into it? Is ‘all of them’ too much? MONTAGE. WHIP PAN. SMASH CUT. I must make sure the thumbnail is incredibly, amazing. I need the watcher’s mouse to gravitate towards it. For it to slide across the screen with minimal effort, almost unbeknownst to the person operating it. They will have NO CHOICE but to click on my video and watch it. EVERYTHING ABOUT IT MUST BE PERFECT AND RIGHT.
Despite not wanting it to be a daunting experience, I was doing everything to make it so. I had well and truly fallen into old, introduction video territory. So, rather than bench the YouTube idea entirely, I dialled the project back completely. It didn’t need to be a 10 minute epic. It didn’t even need to be a minute if I didn’t want it to be. And, frankly, I didn’t want it to be. I just wanted to make something. Like an artist’s warm up doodle in a sketchbook; the ones they do to loosen up their hands and get them in the zone. So, without a grand plan, I opened up Final Cut Pro and let whatever happen, happen.
I made the background yellow, because that felt familiar. I typed the first thing that came into my head, because I didn’t want to spend time nitpicking. And I let the process lead the way. I experimented with different effects; ramping some up and removing others completely. Went with sounds I found complimented the visuals. Grabbed some frames from an old home video that had been digitalised, and voila. Is this thing on? was born. Okay, I ended up making three drafts because there was a bit of the sound that I wanted to be smoother, but, I did it. I made a video - and one that feels reflective of the state I was in when trying to create it.
There’s a lot more here than I anticipated to say, but I love behind the scenes trivia, so take this as a peek behind the curtain. I guess I just wanted to take note that I’d managed to fight off perfectionism and, regardless of whatever happens next, I did the important part - I took the first step.