The fourth annual Buffer Festival, an event dedicated to showcasing filmmaking on YouTube, took place on 20-23 October 2016 in Toronto, Canada. Many of our fave creators were in attendance, so we, of course, had to be there to take in the excitement.
Kicking off the weekend was the red carpet and gala award show on Friday night at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. All the creators were there in stunning dresses and dashing tuxes, and many were kind enough to talk to us about the content they would be premiering over the weekend, as well as their upcoming projects.
First up was Laura Bubble, in attendance for her first ever Buffer Festival. She would be premiering a new comedy sketch during the Comedy Screening on Saturday afternoon. The weekend prior, she had participated in Stand up to Cancer’s #StandUpWithYT live stream and she discussed with us her (now-)viral video from the event.
“It’s been really lovely,” she said. “The fact that I just kind of got involved because the theme was rebellion, [so] I thought I’d just get involved and do a video. So yeah, I’m really happy with it and how it’s gone down.”
Following Laura was Adrian Bliss, who was taking everything in. Adrian was there to premiere his new comedy series with collaborator Will Darbyshire and shared with us his reservations about premiering a project that was so different from his usual content.
“It’s something me and Will have been wanting to do for about two years,” he said, “and it’s something that we probably should never have made, but we eventually figured out a way to make it and now it’s made and it’s a thing. It’s very strange and we’re not sure what to think about it yet.”
As fans of his Vlogvember and Vlune series, we couldn’t let Adrian go without asking him if he would be bringing back the series for a third run, to which he replied, “No plans yet.”
Melanie Murphy and Riyadh Khalaf walked the red carpet together, rocking their incredible Irish style and taking in the glamour of the night. It was the first time either creator had videos to premiere at the event. Melanie was debuting her first ever spoken word video at the LGBT Screening on Sunday afternoon, and she shared with us her thoughts on the screening.
“I’m really nervous,” she said. “I’m excited too, but I’m mostly nervous because it’s something I’ve never done before – it’s very out of my comfort zone and I basically really want to reach out to my followers who also identify as bisexual, or even people who haven’t given it much thought.
“I’ve never done a video that I’ve put so much effort into, so it’s just going to be nerve-wracking. But at the same time, I hope it’s the first of many of that kind of video on my channel.”
She also spoke about her upcoming book, having announced her book deal with Hachette UK prior to Buffer: “I’ve already written a couple of young adult fantasy novels, so the publishers wanted me to write a non-fiction book about advice and my stories. I was a bit hesitant at first, but then I thought, if I just do this, it will resonate with [some of my viewers] and they’ll enjoy that, and if it goes well, maybe it’s a step into publishing fiction.”
— BBTV (@BroadbandTV) October 21, 2016
Riyadh was bopping around the red carpet, making everyone there feel loved and at home. He even revealed to us some details about an upcoming secret project: “I think you’re really going to like it. I’m excited about it. It’s literally – I’m not even mincing my words here – something that I’ve dreamt of doing for ten years or more.”
The John Bassett Theatre was packed with YouTubers from across the world mingling and catching up with each other, trying to predict what was in store for the next two hours. Soon, the lights dimmed and Corey Vidal, the founder of the Festival, took the stage to make two major announcements. The first was that Buffer Festival will transform into a full-fledged award show for the YouTube community next year.
Secondly, he revealed that no one in the room knew which videos were being premiered that night. The Buffer team went through all 200 submissions to pick out their favourites to showcase; a selection that included the incredible trailer to Bertie Gilbert‘s upcoming short Playground, and the latest episode of Ben Brown‘s Visual Vibes, which, by the end of the weekend, was agreed (by most of the people we spoke to, anyway…) to be the best video of the event.
Saturday, the first official day of Buffer, kicked off with the Comedy Screening at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts and featured UK creators such as Adrian, Will, and Laura. Adrian and Will screened all six episodes of The Watercooler, which was met with a split response from the audience.
Following the viewing, Adrian jokingly apologised for the series and explained that he and Will had been planning to make this video for years and about halfway through the edit realised just how… unique it was. Although a departure from the content we’ve all come to expect from the two individually, it was provocative and engaging in a different sort of way. It’s definitely worth a watch.
The Women of YouTube Screening was held on Saturday afternoon and featured premieres from Hannah Witton, Savannah Brown, and Hazel Hayes. Each of the panellists debuted videos that spanned from documentaries to spoken word pieces, with all discussing their projects afterwards.
Hannah debuted the fourth episode of her series The Hormone Diaries, which featured a guest appearance from her mum. In the video, the two discuss her mum’s experience with birth control and the morning after pill. Speaking to TenEighty, Hannah said it was easy talking to her mum about it: “Me and my mum are pretty open with each other and I think that’s what will come across in the video, of how you can turn something that could potentially be a very awkward conversation into something where it looks like two friends chatting.”
Savannah screened the spoken word video she had premiered during Friday’s gala. Unfortunately, the video wasn’t played in its entirety, but she had uploaded it to her channel earlier in the day and encouraged those in attendance to watch the full video after the screening.
Hazel stepped out of her comfort zone with an animated feature about happiness. Initially planning to show the September episode of her Time of the Month series, she opted for this piece instead, which illustrates how happiness appears in the simplest and smallest of things, and that once we notice it, it changes our perspective of the world and our lives.
Saturday evening saw the Travel & Adventure Screening take place, which featured premieres from Riyadh, Tim Hautekiet, Louis Cole, and Ben. Riyadh screened a short film which documents his move from Ireland to London and discusses how the concept of home is wherever you are. It features beautiful shots of Ireland’s green landscape (complete with sheep!) as well as the hustle and bustle of London.
Tim screened two films this year – Your Old Man and Spark, the latter of which he helped produce. Spark, which he premiered during this screening, covers the political strife that’s currently occurring in Venezuela and it received some of the longest applause of the night.
This was followed by Louis’s volcano vlog, which he had been teasing since early summer. The final video features some amazing shots which were both nerve-wracking and exciting.
Ben showed his new Visual Vibes video, which saw him and US vlogger Tim Kellner visiting the Arctic with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Speaking with us before the premiere, Ben reflected on how the trip to the North changed both his view of vlogging and of life in general: “I had many epiphanies on this trip. It was a very life-changing trip for me. Being offline was the key to the whole thing. It allowed me to focus on my content, not be distracted and allowed me to have proper interactions with local people, people on the ship, and I was reading and doing fairly regular exercise.
“It changed my outlook for where my channel is going to head in the future because I definitely want to go and create content that is off the grid in a daily vlog fashion. Daily vloggers can’t leave the internet if they want to actually be daily vloggers, so over the last year I’ve been easing my audience into the idea of not an upload every single day.”
On Sunday, both Bertie and Hazel held Spotlight events: intimate, hour-long screenings and conversations. Unfortunately, we just missed Bertie, but we were able to catch the majority of Hazel’s event. She screened her new animated short again and followed it up with a Q&A. What struck us most at this session was how intelligent and relaxed the audience were; they all seemed sincerely interested in the business of filmmaking and YouTube.
While Hazel’s career and her plans to break into the “real” industry of Hollywood were discussed, some of the talking points took a more personal turn – a pivot Hazel didn’t shy away from, sprinkling in candid thoughts on everything from mental health to heartbreak, and the pressures that come with documenting her life cinematically. This was, in our minds, one of the most interesting panel of the festival, in terms of humanising a person many only know through their computer screens.
Later in the day came the Daily Vlogging Panel, which featured a premiere from Estée Lalonde. In the video, Estée and her boyfriend take viewers on a tour of their favourite green places throughout London, explaining that sometimes they just need a break from the concrete of the city.
Closing the festival was the Short Films Gala, again held at the John Bassett Theatre, where Sammy Paul and Tim both premiered shorts. Sammy showed his newest film One Another, which stars Daniel J. Layton and Emma Richardson. Speaking to TenEighty, Sammy explained how the film takes a different direction to others we’d seen before:
“It’s entirely monologue-driven, so it’s entirely down-lens, talking to [the] camera, and it draws a lot more from my background in theatre. And I think a big reason I wanted to do it is I love really long takes where actors really get the chance to do some big acting, and so I kind of wanted the opportunity to do something where we’d go in for such long takes that were totally static and all on the actor.”
During the gala, Tim also premiered his dramatic short Your Old Man. The film was surprisingly dark and more emotional than any we’d seen from him before; something we hope to see more of in the future. Tim is typically known for producing comedic shorts, however, this film explored the trope of what it means to be a family, particularly relationships between fathers and children in multiple generations. Again, definitely worth a watch when it goes live on YouTube in the coming months.
So there you have it, a look at TenEighty’s second trip to Buffer Festival. Filled with awesome videos, fun times and a lot of laughs (and a few tears – we are an emotional bunch, after all), it was surely a weekend to remember, and we can’t wait for next year!
Want more YouTube events?
Our faves teamed up to raise £187,571 during the #StandUpWithYT live stream event! Alternatively, you could check our extensive coverage of Summer in the City 2016.