Buffer Festival: What is it about directing that excites you most?
Sammy Paul: Oh wow, right in there with the big questions. Everything? Is that too corny? I’ve just yet to discover a greater joy than seeing a story that has been rattling around in your head for months (maybe years) slowly come to life. It’s a brilliant ridiculous thing we get to do.
BF: What was behind your decision to create for YouTube and the online space instead of going the more ‘traditional’ route in your profession?
SP: I’ll admit that YouTube is very much something I fell into. I didn’t approach it with any form of master-plan. For me, it makes total sense as a distribution platform. In time I would definitely consider going elsewhere, but for now it’s a great place to experiment and share stories and ideas internationally for free.
BF: How do you go about pitching your films to production companies to secure funding and partnerships knowing that the content you create will, most likely, be released for free?
SP: Well posting on YouTube has helped us to accumulate an audience that are very supportive and engaged in what we make. The reassurance of that audience makes pitching a lot easier and has meant that many companies and studios have been willing to invest in what they see as upcoming talent.
BF: You’ve worked on a lot of projects for other creators online. Out of those, which was the most challenging?
SP: Boring answer but every project comes with its own set of unique and torturous challenges. Let’s just get that out the way first. However, I will say, ‘Playground’ (children living in a forest) and ‘Blue Sushi’ (over 500 extras) get a special mention here. The scale and ambition of them both, combined with the relatively small budgets we had, resulted in a lot of sweaty sleepless nights. Credit here goes to our producers for somehow managing to pull them off. Producers are the real heroes of filmmaking.
BF: Is there a difference in the creative process for the projects you jumped on board of versus the films you’ve created and developed yourself?
SP: There really isn’t any difference at all. I’m a big believer that if someone hires you to work on a project, it’s your responsibility (both for their sake and yours) to make it your baby. Doesn’t matter where that project started, if you’ve come on as a writer / director you have to bring your voice and sensibilities and make it your own. Of course I’m always game for getting other people’s thoughts and notes, but thus far I’ve been lucky enough to work with open minded folks who share similar sensibilities to me.
BF: Many of your friends and the people you collaborate with also have channels that invite their audiences into the more personal aspects of their lives. Why haven’t you ever pursued that facet of the YouTube world?
SP: Truth is it just doesn’t interest me. I’d much rather someone was invested in the things I make than the person I am. Vlogging is fun (and I do occasionally dabble on my second channel) but creatively it just doesn’t fill me up.