The team at Buffer Festival recognizes a lot of familiar faces that always attend and support the festival. When we came up with this idea on a team video call, the first person we thought to reach out to was Parker Elizabeth. You may recognize Parker from the cover of our magazine, in the BTS photos and videos from Buffer Festival, or all over social media sharing her experiences and interacting with the festival. We’re so grateful to have a community that is dedicated, passionate, and supportive throughout all our Buffer Festival years. And we thought it was time to feature our community on Buffer 365.
Here’s our interview with Parker Elizabeth on why she attends Buffer Festival, her favourite films, and more.
Why do you attend Buffer Festival? What keeps you coming back year after year?
I have been attending Buffer Festival every year since its debut back in 2013 – except for 2020, of course. Buffer Festival is truly a highlight of each year for me, and I honestly felt incomplete without having attended this past year. Ever since the beginning, I’ve felt that Buffer Festival was unique in its format. While in the height of conventions like Playlist Live! or VidCon which celebritizes online creators, Buffer Festival rather honours the content over the creator. In an age where online content, especially YouTube, has transformed into people’s main source of entertainment, it’s important to consider these videos as the pieces of art that they are, and the value in which they hold. I think Buffer Festival greatly succeeds in doing that through its “film festival” structure and award show. At its core, Buffer Festival is a celebration of people’s talent, and the creative community in itself. Attending it is always an enlightening, entertaining, and exciting time.
I personally don’t believe you ever walk out of a Buffer Festival weekend as the same person you walked in being, as the premieres you watch and the people you meet greatly educate and inspire you.
What has been your most memorable experience?
My first instinct to answering this question was my experience being on the front cover of the very first Buffer Festival magazine back in 2015. It was quite bizarre and definitely memorable seeing my face everywhere the whole weekend! However, besides that unique experience, I’d have to say the friendships I’ve made with fellow attendees and creators have been the most memorable. The relationships I’ve fostered within the festival atmosphere have truly stuck with me, even a whole eight years later since the first festival weekend.
What has been the biggest learning lesson from attending Buffer Festival? (this can be something you learned at a screening from a creator or at insight series)
In 2018 and 2019, I was extremely grateful to have been able to attend the Insight Series day, prior to the official Buffer Festival premieres commencing. The Insight Series is so incredibly valuable, and I’m super happy it exists for emerging creators who are able to attend. Although I am not currently trying to build a YouTube audience, I do run a small Bookstagram account, and I often think back to two lessons I learned at the 2018 Insight Series day. I remember Shannon Boodram teaching the audience to find their niche, and I remember SWOOP reminding us that your online audience or fanbase is never permanent. These are two very important things that, admittedly, I never gave much thought to before hearing it that day.
Which premiere has been the most unforgettable for you and why? (a specific film that you remember enjoying?
To be completely honest, this is the toughest question of the whole interview. It’s nearly impossible to narrow seven whole years of premieres down to one absolute favourite. When I first considered this question, a few came to mind: “No Sudden Moves” by Julia Nunes, “Not a Before”, “A Day for Margaret”, and “Don’t Waste My Time” all by Meghan Tonjes, “Lions Don’t Swim” by Jonah Green, “Dolor” by Anna Akana, “Emotional Baggage” by Jack and Dean, “My Mama Wears Timbs” by Arrows, “Bicycle” by Sammy Paul, and “Anxious” by Hazel Hayes. However, if I were to choose a premiere which I still think of to this day, it would have to be “In the Event” by SWOOP.
“In the Event” is a heartbreaking and beautiful short film that explores depression, and suicidal thoughts. It’s honest, and ultimately hopeful, which I believe was the most impactful part of it. I remember totally bawling my eyes out when I first saw this premiere in 2019, and I remember the stranger sitting to my right offering her hand to me as she was crying too. We’re now friends.
Which creators inspire you?
Admittedly, I watch YouTube like it’s my full-time job. Unfortunately, it is not. But that just means my subscription box is absolutely filled with talented, entertaining, and inspiring creators. There are a couple creators who have not yet attended Buffer Festival that constantly inspire me, like Kayla from BooksandLala, and Safiya Nygaard. Of course, there are also many who inspire me who I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting at Buffer Festival, such as Julien Solomita from julien, Ariel Bissett, Andrew Gunadie from gunnarolla, Hannah Witton, and Meghan Tonjes.
What do you most look forward to with Buffer Festival every year?
Well, besides basically everything (lol), I most look forward to the collective appreciation I witness for non-traditional entertainment. Whenever I walk into a Buffer Festival theatre, radiating off of the audience, I feel a sense of anticipation for innovation and frankly, a media revolution. Traditional media has grown tired and overdone, and we are only now experiencing some kind of change since streaming services have taken the reins from big broadcasting corporations. But there’s an excitement and uniqueness to YouTube content specifically, and a love for that which is felt so deeply when at Buffer Festival. It’s also thrilling to meet the creators and have conversations with them about their art.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I just want to say a big “Thank You” to you, the Buffer Festival team. I try to thank you and give you praise in person every chance I get during Buffer Festival weekends, but it’s never enough. You have created a wonderful community, full of kind, talented, and different people. I always walk away from each year of Buffer Festival feeling awakened and inspired. I am so incredibly grateful for the memories and experiences you have helped me, and so many others have. So, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to making this festival as great as it is. I know it’ll eventually come back with a bang, and I’ll be right there waiting. Probably first in line, hours before the event even starts, because, well… you know me. 😉
You can find Parker on Twitter @Paperback_Parks.
Janine Maral is culture writer and content strategist. She enjoys podcasts, Notion, and internet communities.