Creative Prompts: Experiments on YouTube

Over the last year or so I’ve been posting creative prompts on a semi-regular basis. The format I’ve settled into recently has been to take a photo of something I find quirky or interesting, and to post that with a short explanation of what it makes me think of, or the story of finding that thing.

Over time I’ve noticed that I’m really drawn to things that people leave behind, and my photographs frequently feature objects that have been lost or discarded on the streets near where I live. These things often catch my eye, and provoke thoughts that could form the beginning of a story, so I offer them up in the hope that they may so this for other creatives.

However, getting too comfortable with a particular format can lead to it growing stale, so I have recently been thinking about branching out and experimenting with different types of media. As long time readers of this blog may know, I have a very neglected YouTube channel that I’m still trying to work out what to do with. YouTube have recently launched their Shorts style of video, I think in an attempt to rival TickTock. The idea is to post short videos that are less the 60 seconds, and I think are made ‘in the moment’.

While I’m not really an ‘in the moment’ creative, I was attracted to this short format for playing around with my creative prompts. So I have posted a couple of clips on the channel of things that I’ve filmed over the last few years that I find kind of interesting because of the atmosphere they create, or their ability to suggest a story.

The video above is a series of clips I shot several years ago when I was doing a course in documentary film making. I have cut them together in a way that I think suggests a story, and thought that this may be a good starting place for someone to write a scene or a story. Please go and have a look, drop any ideas, pieces of writing, or links to other forms of art in the comment here or on the video itself.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

YouTube as a medium for long form storytelling

For someone who is really into reading and writing, I watch a lot of telly. Over the last few years I have found myself being more and more drawn into the potential of YouTube as a medium for long form storytelling. To begin with I was very put off by the prank videos and found the ‘five tips to…’ format of video particularly uninspiring. However, my partner is a bit of a genius at finding interesting channels to watch, and I’ve recently found myself a bit addicted to the stories that Morgan of Gold Shaw Farm tells (see his video above about his dog for a good example). Baby Magpie, who has just learned to wave, likes to watch the ducks and geese before bedtime, and to chat to them in a sing song voice. Sometimes he gives Morgan and Toby Dog a wave.

In my twenties I did a PhD in psychology and I was particularly interested in how stories affect us. It is an interest that still intrigues me in a variety of different ways, although it has been a while since a did any comprehensive research. However, during my reading for my PhD I came across the idea that a story, whether fact or fiction, needs to have an emotional truth to really move the reader. Of course what constitutes that truth will be different for different people. As a reader and writer of fantasy, I am fully aware that not everyone is able to identify with the perspective of an elf.

Which brings me back to Morgan and his stories about Gold Shaw Farm. I’m not a farmer, and while I try my hand in the garden now and then, I do not claim to want to start a farm. However, I still find my self wanting to know more about the ducks, and geese, and Hobo Barn cat. I think that Morgan is doing something really interesting with YouTube as a medium for long form story telling. In each video he picks up a different thread of the story of his farm, and he has an instinctive understanding of emotional truth in the stories he tells about his animals. While he delights in the new life that comes on to his farm during hatching season, he also does not shy away from the loss and sorrow that farming also necessarily involves. I know that some of the readers here are very interested in storytelling in it’s many splendid forms, and if that is you I would encourage you to spend some time with this channel.

As regular readers of this blog may know, I have a bit of an issue in being interested in too many things at once, and potentially diving into too many different types of media. The consequences of this are that it’s difficult to actually finish anything. My current fantasy work in progress features a character who is a YouTuber, and as part of that process I started a YouTube channel of my own a while ago. I imagine it will surprise absolutely no one to learn that it is now sitting, unloved, waiting for me to do something about it.

At the moment I am finding that the time I need to devote to my gorgeous toddler make it very difficult to maintain a film making practice, but I hope to return to it when the demands on my time ease a little bit. One of the ideas I’m thinking about at the moment is trying to interview YouTubers who I like for my own channel as a form of research to inform that character, and to understand what it is that people enjoy about making the films they do. Let me know if this is something you would be interested in and I will try and make it happen, when I have a moment…

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

More adventures in YouTube: Slow TV

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I have been exploring how to use YouTube as one of the characters in my novel is a YouTuber. I’m taking a bit of time to think about what I want to do, and in the last few weeks have been exploring the idea of Slow TV as it looked likely that there would be a new lock down.

My approach so far has been basically to pair films of things that are nice to look at with sound recordings of things that are nice to look at. My first three films were of sunrises, in real time that I recorded while away recently in the cotswolds. I then added in a sound track of my cat having a nice purr.

The effect is strangely relaxing. If this sounds like something you would like to see you can have a look at one of them here:

Thank you for reading. I also make art and films. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Researching for my novel and a new YouTube Video

A few weekends ago I uploaded the most recent of my YouTube Videos. I first started creating them as a kind of research project – one of the characters in my novel (currently called Feeding Jasmine Valentine) is a wannabe YouTube star and I felt it would be helpful to understand the process. As one of this people who tends to learn by doing, I was finding it a bit difficult to get into the perspective of this character, and now I feel better able to see ‘through his eyes’ as it were. The journey so far, however, has not been entirely smooth.

The best I can say is that as a research exercise, it has been quite successful in discovering the many splendid technical difficulties that can occur when making these films. My most recent two videos have suffered from some pretty substantial camera shake (although I think the narration to both was rather nice so if you are the kind of person who listens to films while working on other things, these could be for you), and problems with the camera adjusting to changes in the light.

I have also managed to run down the power on all of my equipment half way through filming something, and in my last attempt, to record no sound at all, despite using equipment that I know well and have used many times. It has been interesting, and sometimes disheartening, to understand the many ways in which something can go wrong. I am hoping that my next set of experiences may be about what can go right!

In the next few weeks I’m going to experiment with a different kind of film, and have taken some footage from a single viewpoint instead of trying to walk and talk. I’m looking forwards to seeing how that goes, and what kind of films I end up making. I hope to bring you some more successful videos in the next few weeks. In the mean time, I would really appreciate it if those of you who are into YouTube would pop over and have a look at my channel, and consider subscribing. You can see my latest effort below.

Thank you for reading. I also make art and films. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

This month on Pram Cam: interesting books and chatting about art.

Just a short post today as I am struggling a bit for time at the moment. I have been continuing my experiments with YouTube and have uploaded a new video.

In this video I experimented with a different filming set up, chatted about some books I find inspiring, and talked a bit about how all my different projects fit together.

To find out more, please have a watch here:

Thank you for reading. I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.