Sam Angl is a filmmaker who has adopted the Pretentious Monthly Scrapbook series, but has completely made it his own.
All of your favourite creators have their own YouTube history, and Sam‘s story is similar to many. “I was a long-time viewer,” he tells TenEighty, “although I occasionally dabbled in making silly films with my friends when I was a child. I did a very poorly structured parody Spider-Man film – although I’d argue it’s on a par with The Amazing Spider-Man 2!”
While vlogging is often looked down on by mainstream media, the creators doing it are thinking about the medium in a very real way. Sam is one of those people, saying that “vlogging is a glorified version of reality”. With that in mind, it is no surprise that Sam counts Adrian Bliss – who trades on subverting the traditional relationship between YouTube creator and audience member – among his influences.
The creation of narrative in a PMS video is key to bringing the audience back month after month, something that creators like Hazel Hayes and Daniel J. Layton have spoken about in regards to their own version of the PMS format. Sam has his take on it too, saying: “I film real moments and events that happen, but when it comes to editing I work them into a narrative structure I find interesting.”
The care for the final product, however, isn’t just in the editing, but also in the capturing of moments. Within PMS, he allows himself free range to stage things that service the theme of a month. In October, he was trying to be more impulsive so he “staged a big, impulsive act of climbing through my bedroom window”.
In this way, he was able to flex his narrative storytelling muscles. “Knowing this would be the conclusion to the video, I then foreshadowed that act by often looking towards the window in talking-to-camera moments, as well as recording two set pieces of me studying the bedroom window and testing if I could get through it,” he explains.
But he makes sure to base these moments on truth. “The moments were completely fake; however, the impulsive trip to Bath was genuinely something my friends and I fancied doing that day.”
That being said, he isn’t someone who feels that he has to stick to a predetermined theme. “Sometimes I set out with a theme in mind but end up with something different altogether,” he says. “In August’s PMS, this happened big time. I thought the theme would be nostalgia. However, as the month went on, it became obvious to me that the real theme of the month was community, thanks to the wonderful YouTube event, Summer in the City. The month had an undertone of the original nostalgia theme, but it organically presented itself to me to be about community and being part of something.”
Sam has been inspired by many YouTubers, such as Sammy Paul, for fairly obvious reasons (“He invented PMS so I am pretty much forever indebted to him”), but his inspirations aren’t limited to online creators. As a director on the rise, Sam has his fair share of favourites: “David Fincher, for his perfectionism. Ron Howard. for staying so grounded throughout it all – although I admit I’m still playing catch-up on his films. Then, of course, Richard Ayoade: his writing, his quirky sense of humour, his filmmaking, I love it all.”
But Sam’s current favourite celebrity is Donald Glover. “His biggest talent is hard work and [he] is the embodiment that it pays off. Whether it’s music, filmmaking, writing, acting, the guy’s tunnel-vision is fixated on working so goddamn hard.”
Sometimes, at the end of the creative process, your relationship to what you’ve made is complicated – for example, some actors don’t like watching themselves. Sam subscribes to that theory, saying, “I don’t like anything I make”, although he reveals that after four months, he can “recover from the trauma of the edit”.
The exception to the rule is one specific video – Sam’s favourite. “I genuinely can rewatch VEDA 14. i want to move to New Zealand because it was the first time I properly poured all my heart into a project,” he says. “It’s not the most polished thing I’ve ever made – I literally made it in a day – but it is definitely the most honest and personal thing I’ve posted… VEDA 14 probably is so honest because I was running on four hours of sleep a night and was going slightly delusional.” Who needs sleep?! Overrated!
In terms of the future, Sam says, “I love filmmaking, and it’s genuinely the thing I want to do all my life now. I’d like to move away from vlogging and more to fictional films, maybe documentaries… one year vlogging is enough for my ego!” Alongside that, he wants a dog, and also simply to “be happy, [but I’m] still working on that one”.
Sam is one of those creators that seems to flourish at whatever he turns his hand to. One of the predictions that TenEighty has made for YouTube in 2018 is the rise of high-production, scripted vlogs such as the Streamy-winning Sugar Pine 7. This is something that screams for an artistic voice like Sam’s.
We at TenEighty are excited for what is next for you, Sam, even if we are sad that your version of PMS is coming to an end. Keep killing it in 2018.