Nestled in a corner of the MCM ComiCon at the London Excel, between the Transformers cosplayers and the Magic: The Gathering enthusiasts, Vidfest attracted a YouTube fan distinct from the screaming Malfie aficionados.
The YouTubers were still big names. Ashens was there promoting the DVD release of his feature-length film Ashens and the Quest for the Gamechild. Despite the full 90-minute feature being released for free on YouTube in August 2013 and gaining over half a million hits, the 300+ hard copies that were brought to the event sold out by Sunday afternoon, and there were hints of a sequel at Saturday’s panel.
TomSka had not one but two talks where he premiered information about the mobile game Cat Attack. Jack and Dean showed a teaser for their new music video coming later this year (TenEighty has been sworn to secrecy on the content of the video, but watch this space for more information as it comes in!) and WOTO hinted that they have been in talks with radio and TV producers. It was an exciting weekend of many announcements and exclusives only for the eyes of those present in the corner of the convention hall.
— TenEighty UK (@TenEightyUK) 25 May 2014
The Vidfest stage wasn’t just used as a way of breaking new projects. Many creators were there just looking to chat to their fans and sell merchandise. The queues for TomSka, Mr Weebl and Ashens seemed never-ending throughout the weekend, only subsiding towards the end of the Sunday. Hazel Hayes talked about being one of the few female vloggers taking the plunge into longer form film-making with her short film, Super Brainy Zombies, and Bing (Slomozovo) answered questions about the future of funding creation on YouTube. There was also a beautiful duet of Amazing Horse with one of Weebl’s viewers pulled from the crowd.
Fans packed halls and were still willing to pay inflated prices for T-shirts and horse masks, but the vibe of the whole weekend was less fanatic than at the previous gatherings TenEighty has covered. There were no euphoric screams when a YouTuber took to the stage, but there were insightful questions in Q&A sessions, with many people asking how they could start making their own videos or where inspiration came from for a popular upload. There was also a more balanced demographic of males and females, although overwhelmingly they were still young. However, a creator was just as likely to get asked a question from a young male fan as a young female fan about the creative process. To our knowledge, shipping wasn’t mentioned once.
An impromptu Women on the Web panel including Musical Bethan and Hazel Hayes saw great discussions among some great female talent. It was refreshing to see not just women from the vlogging community, but also the likes of Susan Clark and Lisa Gifford – creators of the popular web series Chronicles of Syntax and 3some respectively. However, the discussion about females in the medium did seem a little repetitive despite the inclusion of women from behind the camera. Intentions on the panel were good, but the fact that it was a last-minute replacement for a cancelled talk showed in its lack of preparation.
— TenEighty UK (@TenEightyUK) 25 May 2014
VidFest UK also hosted the growing number of UK-based web series ranging from sci-fi, sitcoms and cartoons.
Fan-favourite Chronicles of Syntax proudly announced its second series is in the works. When asked by a fan whether there would be LGBT representation in future episodes, Syntax creator Susan Clark hinted that one of the existing characters was already from the queer community, but the audience just didn’t know it yet.
The MCM ComiCon hall also saw the exclusive launch of the trailer for soon-to-come UK web series Paradox. The producers and cast promised a Doctor Who-style, time-travelling sci-fi series. It is to be launched by the end of 2014 with 10 episodes over 10 weeks.
Also present was Cops and Monsters, a vampire, zombie and werewolf epic created by Fraser Cole and staring actors from TV’s Doctor Who and River City. The series ran a successful Indiegogo campaign and promises to release six episodes. The campaign page promises: “If you like Doctor Who, Torchwood, Being Human, The Vampire Diaries, Arrow, etc, then you’ll like Cops and Monsters!”
Eddsworld, the posthumous animation created by Edd Gould (1988–2012), produced by Tom Ridgewell (TomSka) and continued on by a group of Edd’s friends, was also present, talking about the project’s creative process and carrying on Edd’s legacy.
The team from Chris Kendall’s comedy series Future Duck was there to represent animation. On the sci-fi front, the creators of the Doctor Who fan show Who’s Changing and Predator: Dark Ages, a fan film drawing inspiration from the Predator franchise but based during the Crusades, were also there.
Altogether Vidfest UK was an event that seemed to take itself seriously, which was reflected in the calibre of the creators that were present. More and more were focusing on more mainstream projects and long-form videos. That said, everyone was still there flogging their latest T-shirt designs and signed posters, so some things never change.
TenEighty walked away from this gathering exhausted for the amount of things to do, but satisfied from the balanced diet of fandom, discussion and inspiration that was to be had.