The third annual Buffer Festival, a YouTube-driven film festival in Toronto, Canada, took place last weekend with many of our favourite UK creators being featured. We weren’t going to let the pesky North Atlantic Ocean get in our way!
Friday night kicked off at the Roy Thomson Hall, with a ritzy red carpet and premiere gala where we had the opportunity to catch up with some of our favs to find out what they were most looking forward to, and nab some updates on various (sometimes secret) projects that are in the works.
First up on the carpet was Hannah Witton who, despite this being her first experience of being the centre of attention on a red carpet, handled the step and repeat like a boss.
Recently, Hannah took the plunge and left her job to pursue being a full-time YouTuber. With her channel gaining momentum, both in subscribers and uploads, Hannah teased her plans in the pipeline. “One thing that I can’t talk about…” she said. “Yeah, I know, ‘secret projects’!
“But right now, I’m working on creating better content. Doing a lot more research into sex and relationships and currently pitching a lot of things to TV companies. So we’ll see if anything gets picked up, but at the moment it’s just kind of like throwing ideas out there!”
Liam Dryden, who was rocking a kilt, was back for his second Buffer Festival. As both a seasoned guest and someone who helps organise a different popular YouTube convention (Summer in the City, don’t act like you’ve not heard of it!), we were eager to hear his thoughts on the upcoming weekend. “I’ve noticed that the content and the themes of each screening is a bit leaner,” he said.
“Like, there were a lot more last year and a lot more individual screenings that people were having and this year seems to be a lot more focussed on the genre and the content, and I really like that. I think it will be a lot more encompassing and inclusive. It’s a good improvement.
— Liam Dryden (@LiamDrydenEtc) October 24, 2015
“I think that Buffer is very unique because it focusses on the content rather than the creators behind it,” he continued. “It’s all screenings and things like that, rather than focussing on the meet-ups. [It] is definitely more of a celebration of things people are making rather than just like ‘Hey, here are the people!’ People enjoy all of those things and there is a space for all of those events, so I think it’s great!”
Hazel Hayes, a self-proclaimed ‘Buffer Virgin’, agreed with Liam’s perspective on the festival. “I feel slightly all new and fresh and out of place in this, but everyone is making me feel so welcome and it’s been amazing so far,” she said. “It’s a really relaxed, chilled atmosphere.
“It’s very different to Summer in the City or VidCon, which are also great events, but it just has a different vibe to it,” Hazel continued. “It’s nice that we are celebrating the more long-form, scripted content that everyone is doing.”
Hazel has got some big plans for the next couple of months, and she wasn’t shy about telling us. “I’m releasing a Halloween sketch with Jack and Dean that I’m really excited about,” she said. “I mean, I’ve made some dark stuff in the past but this is like… I’m kind of afraid to show it to the world to be honest; they are going to worry about me. Guillermo del Toro told me I was quite disturbed last year and I think I’ve kind of topped it.”
Revealing that she’s working with New Form Digital on a pilot, Hazel told us a bit more about what to expect. “I originally pitched it to them and it was supposed to be just a short but they came back and said ‘Hazel, this is a whole series. You’re never going to tell this in a short’,” she said.
“I’m working on a pilot within that universe that introduces the characters but is in that scope and can be expanded later. Oh — and I’m working with a channel called Field Day on a Christmas video… and also on some of my own scripted projects between now and Christmas!”
Following the two-hour red carpet, guests were ushered into the hall for the opening night gala where we were treated to premiere videos such as the incredibly powerful Wish I Had Said Something by Suli Breaks, Atlantis Dunes by Ben Brown (the latest from his Visual Vibes series), and the second episode of Oscar’s Hotel from PJ Liguori.
The first year, there were only seven premieres throughout the entire festival. The second, there were 40, and this year there are over 200 videos being premiered over the span of three days.
On Saturday, we attended the Sketch Comedy panel which included Tim Hautekiet and Charlie McDonnell. Tim screened his newest sketch Chase & Fist, prompting a middle-aged woman (who was sat behind us) to whisper to her daughter that she liked the video due to a fisting joke. Yes, we are scarred for life.
Charlie screened The Tea Chronicles, featuring fellow Buffer Festival guest Kyhan Mansley. The film, although two years old, was fresh to many of those in the audience. It was met with laughter (at all the right spots) and a rousing applause. Following it, Charlie took to the stage and give a brief synopsis of how he created the sketch.
On Sunday afternoon, we attended the Woman of YouTube panel which featured both Hannah and Hazel. Each of the panellists screened a short video, spoke a little bit about what inspired it, and then left time for a Q&A. Hannah premiered Lesbianism in 60 Seconds, which explains the historical background and insane political laws around lesbianism.
Over the panel, topics such as finding your voice (both artistically and personally), being afraid to do non-beauty-centric videos, and fending off anti-feminist comments were addressed. Our personal highlight came from during an audience question.
When asked how best to deal with the pressures of a fast upload schedule and the variety of videos expected, Hazel responded: “Throw the fucking YouTube playbook out and make whatever the fuck you want.”
A large subscriber count doesn’t necessarily make for a sustainable career, according to Hazel. She suggests that if you make what you want, keep your integrity, and go in expecting to play the long game, more opportunities than you can imagine will present themselves.
The festival came to a close with the Short Films panel, featuring the likes of Charlie, Hazel and Suli as well as Bertie Gilbert, Tim Hautekiet and Emily Diana Ruth. While films from Bertie and Hazel were too lengthy to screen at the panel, we were treated to a screening of Emily’s short Cold, which has recently been picked up by Verizon to be turned into a series.
Following the panel, TenEighty caught up with Charlie to discuss the Strangers In A Bed screening the previous night. “It was really scary, because you know… not only was that something I put a lot of work into, but its also a relatively old one now too,” he said.
“But you know, it’s a really educational experience watching it with an audience,” continued Charlie. “I’ve never sat in an audience and watched it, especially in an audience where not everyone knows me or what the film is. But I was pleased that people applauded at the end.”
So there you have it! A snapshot of Buffer Festival from a travelling TenEighty journalist. While the entire festival was inspiring, educational, and all around amazing, everyone agrees that Bounce by Jasmeet Singh and Timothy Delaghetto was the surprise masterpiece of the weekend. If you haven’t seen it before, enjoy…
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Alternatively check out our extensive coverage of Summer in the City 2015 featuring bundles of exclusive photos.