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- Aug 31, 2011
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- source https://www.youtube.com/user/babyteeth4/about
Interview Questions and Answers
When did you start your YouTube channel?
We opened an account in 2008 but it wasn’t until 2010 that we started making videos specifically with a YouTube audience in mind.
What is your channel all about and what do you do on your channel?
The core of the channel is Jillian and Addie, my two daughters, having fun and sharing that fun with our viewers. We make videos ranging from adventure films to fairy tales, along with animation, slices of life, and of course candy reviews and toy reviews. Basically whatever the girls and I can think of, we try to find a way to bring it to life.
What got you into creating YouTube videos?
I’ve always been interested in film and video, and telling stories, and entertainment. I grew up in a family of 11 children, so I’ve always had an audience. I got involved in things like school plays and musicals and made a video with some friends in school, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I really had the means to make videos that were truly my own. Like many new parents, I loved making videos of my children. My wife had the idea of making a video invitation for my daughter Jillian’s first birthday party. I filmed something I thought was reminiscent of one of my favorite directors, Stanley Kubrick, burned some DVDs and sent them out to friends and relatives. The response was so positive that more people began asking to see the video, so I put it on YouTube so they could share it.
What made you decide to take the channel to the next step?
I’m not sure it was a conscious decision, we got pulled into it all. The success of “Fast Cars, Bad Kids” really made us realize this whole YouTube thing was much, much bigger than we had ever imagined, and could maybe take us places. When I was planning Fast Cars Bad Kids I thought if I really pushed the video hard using all my contacts, I could maybe get 1,000 views. The video wasn’t an overnight success, but for some reason it didn’t drop off like our other videos had. It consistently got views, I assumed more because of the title and thumbnail than anything else.
Are your daughters involved in any acting schools or drama classes to help with their acting for the videos or are they taught by yourself?
Neither of my daughters has had any acting training. They both learned to read by the time they were 4 and both are excellent mimics, so I think that helps. I’m always amazed how quickly they learn and how much they can remember. Jillian and I did the diner scene from Paper Moon from memory in one of our older videos, since removed. It took me weeks of constant repetition to learn my lines, but Jillian learned in only a few minutes per day on the car ride to school.
Do you consider it your hobby?
Jillian: “Not really. Only the candy reviews are my hobby, I really like doing those. I sort of enjoy making the Overly Sensitive Zombie Girl videos but they are sometimes very difficult to make.”
Addie: “I think that the longest movies are my hobby because they’re really fun and when it’s over you start think that they look fun too!”
Would you be interested in being actresses in the future when you are older and perhaps even starring in TV shows, films and such?
Jillian:”No, not big movies, but little movies and TV shows like the Disney Channel, that would work. Because I don’t really like to be in long movies unless there’s something in the movie for me, like in the candy reviews.”
Addie: “I think so because it might be fun, and it probably will be easy to make.”
Who are your current inspirations and influencers?
Kubrick looms huge in my mind, he has created so many iconic images in cinema. Other favorites of mine are Herzog, Spielberg, Malik, and Scorcese. And when I want to get my weird on, there’s the Davids: Lynch and Cronenberg. It might sound funny for a YouTube channel to have those influences, but they’re there!
How has it felt for you all going from zero subscribers to 300 thousand subscribers, how does that feel?
Bob: It’s funny because for years I didn’t think about subscribers, just views. Only in recent years have I paid much attention to subs. But yeah , it’s hard to believe there’s five stadiums full of people who actually want to watch what we make, it’s a fun and strange feeling at the same time.
Jillian: It feels really nice to know that a lot of people like us. It’s like the feeling you get when you make a friend, but this is 300 thousand friends!
Addie: I like it because it makes Daddy happy when we get a lot of subscribers!
Was your channel growth steady since launch or did it explode with a particular video or at a particular time?
After a year, Fast Cars Bad Kids was getting 1,000 views a day, which we thought was amazing, but it turned out to be small numbers compared to what came later. The biggest boost was in March 2012 when YouTube changed their algorithm to be based on viewing time. Most kids were watching all 9 minutes of FCBK and repeatedly, it seems. Within a few months we were averaging between 80k-100k views per DAY. Reality set in when I calculated we were getting a new view about once per second. That got our attention! Since then it’s been nothing but skyward.
I have heard that you were all recently on television, how was that experience for you all?
Bob: I was surprised how much fun I had with it! You’d think that it could have potential to make you very nervous, but I think I’ve watched so many talk shows over the years it all felt very natural to me. I’d love to do it again, it was definitely a once-in-a lifetime experience!
Jillian: “It was really cool. It felt nice to be comfortable with a small crowd to watch you, and then later you’d worry about what you’d look like on television. And I got to tell everyone that I was on TV twice because once I was on the news (earlier). I was really shy during the news part.”
Addie: “It was kinda fun to see myself on TV because that means that we’re getting a lot of views and all that. It was fun to sit on the couch and I wasn’t really nervous.”
Which video did you enjoy making the most and why did you enjoy making it the most?
Bob: “Too Many Addies” was the one I enjoyed making the most, because it so large in scale compared to everything we’d done before. We had to go shoot in actual locations like our local library and Carnegie Mellon University, but there were also hundreds of green screen shots of all the Addies that needed to be edited in. I also loved editing together all the happy memories Jillian has of her sister Addie in a real-life flashback scene, using actual home movie footage. It had a lot of emotional resonance for me, and I hope the viewers as well.
Jillian: “Kid Candy Review where we did Popin Cookin’ Sushi because everything in there was delicious and it’s fun to make candy reviews!
Addie: “I liked making Too Many Addies because it wasn’t like the ones we did before that, it was the funnest one to make. I got to knock things over and throw stuff in the toilet!“
What do you think are the three most important things a channel can do to be successful within the childrens’ entertainment niche?
1. Be visual. Kids are a fickle audience. You constantly have to show them something interesting or they will seek entertainment elsewhere.
2. Engage with your audience, both through social media and through the videos themselves. I spend a lot of time writing careful responses to every comment that I can. And when you respond to their comments, they are so genuinely grateful.
3. Be real. Don’t talk down to your audience. Kids like seeing kids doing amazing things, but they also like seeing kids being real kids just like them--getting mad, making mistakes, breaking things, etc.
How has YouTube changed your lives?
Bob: It has changed my life a lot from an artistic standpoint. Yes, you’re allowed to call YouTube videos art! I have always enjoyed having creative outlets but YouTube is the first one that enabled me to go straight to an audience without having any gatekeepers like publishers or studios. Knowing that my work is going to be seen by a large audience is very gratifying. The other thing is all the great people we’ve met online, some true friends who I would have never met if it weren’t for YouTube. It just makes me feel more connected to the world around me. Of course, there’s the monetary aspects as well, it definitely takes the pressure off and last fall I was able to retire from my “real” day job as an accounting manager. The freedom to do what you want with your time is priceless.
Jillian: “Only a little change, a couple of my friends actually watch us. Also I get to spend a lot more time with my Dad while making the videos”
Addie: “First I thought it was interesting and then I just thought it was very cool! “
How have you fit video making into your life schedule and school?
Bob: When I was still working my day job, it wasn’t always easy. Now that we’re doing this full time, we’ve been able to make 3-4 videos every week instead of just one. Even now I am up late some nights, and weekends, but usually that’s my own doing, I can procrastinate with the best of them. Pittsburgh winters can be long, so I spend more time editing the worse the weather gets. When it’s nice outside, that’s when it gets tough!
Jillian: “Not really. We normally shoot after school hours or on weekends and summer vacation.”
Addie: “Not very much, because it is really fast because whenever you know it just ends, and you don’t want it to end!”
Can you share any plans or goals you might have for taking the BabyTeeth4 channel to the next level over the next few months?
We’re planning a new series in addition to what we’re already doing, more of a “how-to” type show where we can do crafts & recipes, the girls and I are really excited about it. In addition to that, I’m still working on a superhero movie that will be a lot of fun to watch. We also have a few other surprises up our sleeves that will show you a side of babyteeth4 you’ve never seen before.
Will babyteeth4 be making more appearances on TV in the future? If so where can we catch you guys?
We just had a small bit of our Ice Bucket Challenge video used in a Swedish commercial for a telecommunications company, so if you’re in Sweden you may have seen it already. We’ll be doing a live meet-and-greet at the Gene & Boots Candy store in the Monroeville Mall near Pittsburgh on May 17th. No new appearances on television are schedule at this point but we’ll let YTTalk know if it happens!
Will you guys be at VidCon 2015?
Yes, so if anyone’s going, we’d love to meet you!
Has a schedule been important for you, if so what is the babyteeth4 schedule and would you recommend others to have a schedule?
I initially resisted officially scheduling anything because I didn’t want to feel tied down, but having said that, we now have new videos every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with the occasional surprise bonus video on any other day. Having a set schedule is important to viewers because it lets them know you’re in this for the long haul and won’t just disappear like so many things online tend to do. Also, it helps to build anticipation which I think is important in getting viewer engagement. I want our viewers to think of Tuesday as “Time For Toys Tuesday”, for example. Lastly, a schedule forces me to budget my time and keep me focused.
Do you see babyteeth4 having its own production studio some day in the future?
I’ve been giving more thought to this lately. My children may not always want to do this, and they won’t always be little kids. It would be great if we could take some of the things we’ve learned, and at the same time give our audience additional content. I also think Pittsburgh has a lot of YouTubers who are under the radar and it would be cool if we could give something back to the community. Also, I have more ideas than I can act upon, so acting as producer might be a natural progression.
What video do you recommend watching to get a feel for the babyteeth4 channel?
Any of the candy review videos are probably a good representation, we try to stay consistent. Our channel trailer is a montage showing some of our favorite moments what we have done over the years, although it’s getting a little outdated, it’s fun to watch. If you like anything you’ve seen there, you’ll love our channel.
What do you think is the reason for your channel’s success?
I’d say it’s a combination of work, creativity, and luck. I am very lucky to have two beautiful and talented daughters who I feel have a very charming and likeable quality about them. Of course being their father, I am a bit biased! We try to incorporate creative ideas into everything we do, and no idea is too big for us to consider doing. It can be a lot of work, but I think that’s one of the things that makes our videos special--there aren’t many people doing what we’re doing, because it’s not always easy, especially with young children. I also feel very lucky to be living during a time when the average person has access to quality video production tools and a web platform that can reach a wide audience. Thirty years ago I might have been a frustrated screenwriter or playwright. But now thanks to online video, I have found a niche where I can breathe life into my ideas and share them with the world.
How did everyone react when they seen the video (fast cars bad kids) shooting through the roof in numbers and you realised, did you celebrate?
It’s been more of a series of smaller celebrations over time as we would pass milestones and break new records. Most people react with disbelief when I tell them the number of views it has. Anything in the tens of millions is hard to wrap your mind around!
So that is why you do all the camera work and scripting, have you been on camera in any of the videos?
I follow the examples of “The Little Rascals” and “Peanuts” and try to keep adults out of view, but I do take on occasional roles as the plot necessitates. In our upcoming Kid Superheroes movie I am taking on multiple roles, as the story is larger in scope than anything we’ve done before.
Do you tend to make your own sound effects and music pieces for the videos or do you use another resource?
I’ve occasionally made a few of my own sound effects, but I’m a big fan of freesound.org, which is a great resource when used appropriately.
Would you consider acting training for your daughters? Would they be interested in that at present?
We gave it some thought a while back, but it requires a serious time commitment. The girls were more interested in soccer, swimming, and dance so we put it on the back burner for now.
Would you be interested in being actresses when you are older?
Jillian: For little shows, not big ones. Big films take a lot of time.
Addie: Yeah because it’s fun!
Do you have any tips for increasing viewer watch time?
Keep a sense of intensity and vitality in your work, go for broke, and hit for the fences every time. Ironically, the best way to increase viewer watch time is to cut out all the unnecessary footage, any parts that slow down the flow of action or tempt the viewer’s mind to disengage and start wandering. Long silences and static shots should be avoided. The vast majority of viewers would rather watch 7 interesting minutes than 15 “just okay” minutes. And, when you leave them wanting more, they’ll re-watch it. Don’t save the good stuff for a later project--you might not get the viewer back for a second impression.
Are there any videos on your channel where Addie and Jillian aren’t acting? Do you make any vlog style videos with them or even with yourself perhaps to add the real element you mentioned? If not have you considered it?
Yes, we do occasional slice-of-life segments, such as “Sled ‘n Pee” and “Cute Girl Gets Ears Pierced”. The Kid Candy Reviews are not scripted, although the girls will sometimes plan out a joke they want to say in advance of doing the shoot. As the girls get more comfortable ad-libbing, we may do more vlog-oriented material. If I ever start a regular installment featuring myself, it would be on a second channel. Our core audience wants to see kids in front of the camera, not me!
What made you decide to quit your accounting manager job go even further with the babyteeth4 brand?
I had a satisfying job that I was good at, and it had been very good to me for over 20 years. I just assumed I’d be there another 20 years, so leaving the job was not as easy a decision as you’d think. But, I was starting to feel like I was being spread a bit thin between the day job, parenthood, and the YouTube channel. Over time, the channel won out. Ultimately I had to make a decision to break away from the “safe” route of a 9-to-5 job and concentrate on the channel to take it to the next level while the girls were still young and interested.
When you were working, were you able to keep your YouTube channel private so work colleagues didn’t know, or are they aware of your videos or even watched them?
I used to keep it fairly private but with our media appearances, that all went out the window. Most people found it to be an interesting bit of trivia, and they’d ask a few questions, then forget about it. Everyone seemed genuinely happy for me when the channel was succeeding monetarily enough for me to leave my day job.
Are your friends regular watchers or do they tune in every now and then?
Bob: Some of my friends and family watch everything as it comes out, others are just occasional viewers. You can’t expect everyone to just drop what they’re doing every time we upload a new video.
Jillian: I have one friend who is a big fan but most of them will watch a video every now and then.
Addie: A lot of them tune in every now and then, they sometimes tell me they watched the videos.
How do you feel about your friends at school watching?
Jillian:I feel very nice!
Where can we find Babyteeth4 online?
Aside from our YouTube channel, babyteeth4 is on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We call our viewers the Babyteeth4 Nation because we have viewers in every country of the world (literally), but are all joined together online.