We headed down to the MCM London Comic Con to check out panels from some of our favourite creators.
Yet another VidFest has come and gone, with stalls from Summer in the City, Thomas Ridgewell, and Yogscast, and meet-and-greets with Connie Glynn, Evan Edinger, and Bird Keeper Toby. Yours truly also had a stall for the first time – check out our interview with the con’s VidFest Diaries here:
As well as stalls, there were a series of panels taking place on the Bronze Stage of the convention. We checked out offerings from TomSka, Eddsworld, Daniel J. Layton, and Sammy Paul, to see what they would do with their 30 minutes on the stage…
Tom took to the stage on Friday 26 May at 1pm, for the first of three panels over the weekend. The now-ubiquitous Los Santos cap replaced with one featuring a Play button, he came on stage in typical TomSka attire – leading him to admit it was “not a good day to be dressed in all black”.
This was followed by a screening of latest video Baby With A Gun 2, which Tom admitted he hadn’t wanted to release so close to the recent Manchester bombing due to similar themes, but had promised to release something to promote his appearance at this convention. He also revealed that the actress playing the baby fell asleep constantly due to the nighttime shoot.
There was a brief discussion on abandoned videos, where Tom spoke about a couple of shelved sketches. One, Play Date, involved a man practising for a date on a teddy bear, while the other was called Incredibly Offensive and was apparently shelved for obvious reasons. After this came a discussion on the asdfmovie series – Tom had a minor breakdown upon realising he’d been making asdf material for 12 years, but admitted he finds them fun to make.
The rest of the panel came in the form of a Q&A, where the audience received several nuggets of info. Tom admitted that he can find things to improve upon in every video of his except HORSE, stating that every creative can find improvements to make in their work. He revealed plans to make three further large-budget videos in 2017 (Baby With A Gun 2, with its £10,000 budget, being the first), one of which will be called The Bank Job, as well as an 11-minute CRASH ZOOM. Although these videos, according to Tom, will never turn a profit, he makes them as a thank-you to his audience.
Tom also admitted he would like to return to doing Q&A live streams (akin to the popular Vokle streams of 2011), but hasn’t found a site good enough, telling us YouNow “terrifies me”. One fan asked about the thought process behind Beep Beep I’m a Sheep, with Tom admitting the melody was essentially ripped wholesale from Uptown Funk, and stating that it had popped into his head while shopping. He elaborated on the creation of the song, stating that at one point he had proposed a full-scale dance routine.
The panel ended with the big reveal that Tom has been angling to present an online Robot Wars spin-off with the robots simply doing “cool stuff”. Unfortunately, the BBC have yet to return his calls…
As Matt Hargreaves and Jamie Spicer-Lewis took to the stage, there was a palpable excitement from the crowd, waiting to find out the future for one of the internet’s most esteemed animated series. Their anticipation was soon rewarded as Matt revealed production will start on a series of Eddsworld shorts from June, and that he is currently in talks with the animators. Matt stated that there is currently no budget for the longer “Eddisodes”, and announced plans to open a Patreon page to help fund their creation. He also let slip one potential episode title – The Beaster Bunny.
The floor was then opened for questions, with many of the early ones confirming changes within the series. It was once again reiterated that Thomas Ridgewell has left the series entirely, and has given the blessing for his voice to be replaced. Matt stated that many people who were involved in Eddsworld: Legacy are ready to move on, but that older Eddsworld collaborators who weren’t involved in those series have been contacting him again.
Matt also confirmed that Tim Hautekiet would not be returning to voice Edd, and that Edd’s brother George would be filling the role – “Because he’s family, he’ll never stop”. (George later called Matt during the panel, and joked that he “has to work on his monotone voice”.) It was confirmed that there will be more gender-flipped episodes, but with further voice actor replacements – Jenny Bingham is joining the cast of Eddsworld as Matilda.
Many other questions involved plans for the future of the series. It was revealed that the team have the bare bones for a puppet-based musical episode, based on Edd’s love for the 2011 Muppet movie, and that Edd had storyboarded an opening scene for a sequel to WTFuture before his death. There were also ideas batted around for future merch, with Matt expressing a wish to sell stress toy Coca-Cola cans and Tommee bear plushies, and a question about which celebrity the team would like to see cameo in Eddsworld – Keith David for Jamie, Nathan Fillion and Barack Obama for Matt.
The last big revelation of the panel was Matt telling the audience the worst pun Edd ever made: “Here’s some bread – I baked it YEASTerday”.
Daniel J. Layton
Coming shortly after the Eddsworld panel was Daniel J. Layton, who devoted all of his time to a Q&A. He quickly sorted out the crowd’s early jitters by talking at length about each Janet Jackson album until someone raised their hand – within five minutes, there were no breaks between questions at all.
The earliest questions directed at Dan involved his university course – he told the audience how he learned that media theory and knowing how the industry works are incredibly important. He later mentioned how he began his channel due to being surrounded by creators at university. He was also asked what the best and worst things were about living with Jack Howard, to which he stated that while he loves living with someone who he is so close to for so long, he cannot get over how Jack uses two towels after showering – “two towels!”
As you might expect, many of the questions revolved around Dan’s popular series Baking With Layton. He revealed that he would love to get Louise Pentland on the show, stating that they would probably make a cheesecake together, and when pressed to pick a real celebrity went with David Beckham, believing Nigella Lawson and Mary Berry would make him “too nervous”. He was asked about his favourite video in the series so far, and told the audience it was the Dodie Clark birthday special, due to it coming at a time when he was beginning to become less confident in the series, and it ended up being incredibly fun and reminding him that it is good to get out of your own head.
A potential lack of confidence ended up becoming a running theme throughout the Q&A – one audience member asked if Dan had ever had confidence issues about continuing with YouTube, and he stated: “Every. Single. Day.”, while stressing the importance of not letting these issues defeat you, recommending yoga as a way to clear your head. When asked how he kept going through his recent VEDA challenge, Dan stated that it was “stubbornness”, and told a story about having a major confidence issue at day four, canning a video after shooting it three times, and ending up recording his first ever unscripted vlog. He found that VEDA gave him more freedom to experiment and allowed him to be more “loose” with the channel.
Further questions involved which SitC panels Dan would like to host (the sketch comedy panel), which video he is most proud of (his monologue from Hamlet), and whether he would love to record a studio album one day, to which he stated that performing music was his first love, and that he would like to do it but that it’s a complex undertaking.
Dan closed with a question about his favourite candle scent, and was unable to choose between an IKEA spa candle and a Kylie Minogue candle bought for him by Dodie.
Sammy’s panel took place on the final day of VidFest, and began with a screening of his video for Dodie Clark’s Intertwined, to an enthusiastic response. The rest of the panel took the form of a Q&A, with Sammy specifically interested in questions about filmmaking and being one of the only YouTubers to be a director above all else.
Many people were interested in Sammy’s process and any potential difficulties with filmmaking. He stated that his favourite part of the creative process was the shooting period, as he finds the feeling of seeing something you’ve written come to life as “incredible”, while he also likes auditioning as it is the first time you can see another person interpret the character as written. When asked what the hardest thing is about making a short film, he stated that he had learned the importance of spending time on pre-production, and that one common mistake is filmmakers not creating shot lists and finding other ways to make the production process easier.
When asked if he would ever want to move into features, Sammy told the crowd he wasn’t sure if he was “ready” at that point, but is always looking to work towards that goal. He also announced that he co-wrote a feature film with Bertie Gilbert which is set to shoot in New York City, while admitting his dream would be to make an original movie for Netflix or YouTube Red, due to his love of online distribution. A further project was also announced – a music video for Tom Rosenthal’s Throw the Fear.
One fan asked about the inspiration behind the Intertwined video, and Sammy said it was based on discussions he had had with Dodie over the meaning of the song. He mentioned 2001: A Space Odyssey as a tonal inspiration, specifically the way certain horrific scenes are presented with a calm, innocent tone. He went on to answer a question about how much of himself he puts into his work, where he stated his belief that every creator does this in some way, and that while none of his work is overly autobiographical, he does write around themes and topics that matter to him.
There were also many questions asking for advice and tips with filmmaking. Sammy mentioned that his first step towards his current role was working as an assistant director under Tim Hautekiet and Jack Howard before he went forward with his own work, and recommended that no director have a “set process”, instead approaching every project completely differently. Script-wise, he stated his opinion that a good screenplay should be “surprising but inevitable”, and recommended trying to add connecting words like “but” or “therefore” between scenes in scripts to test how well they flow together. There was also a question on advice for when an idea exceeds the potential budget, and Sammy suggested looking at the first films of acclaimed directors to see how they made interesting ideas on a small budget, giving the examples of Memento and Whiplash.
The final question was based around the differences between a comedy sketch and a comedic feature film, with Sammy answering that a movie would still be about the character, and that sketches can have people act out of character without it being a huge issue.
At the end of the weekend, the team were all exhausted but happy, with our appetites truly whetted by the nuggets of information we received from the speakers. Roll on the rest of the year’s conventions!