Jayden Rodrigues in studio at the YouTube Pop-Up Space at AFTRS. (Photo: Daniel Boud)

This week, AFTRS plays host to the first YouTube Pop-up Space in Australia, with the film school opening its doors to the platform’s creators so they can learn from production experts and collaborate with one another.

Over the next five days, YouTubers will have free access to the film school’s facilities, including its professional studios and equipment.

YouTube has built nine permanent spaces around the world – including in LA, London, Tokyo and New York – in order to upskill, connect and support its creative community. Many of these are also in partnership with film schools, and are always free to access.

“It’s part of our investment in creators,” said Head of YouTube Spaces Asia Pacific, David Macdonald.

“We want to make sure that we get the resources to them when they need it; so free equipment, free studio space… It pays out for us in the long run to have better content with better production value.”

YouTube has held temporary pop-ups in Nashville, Mexico City, Bangkok, Seoul and now – Sydney. Thirty-three Aussie YouTubers boast over one million subscribers, and Macdonald said Australia has some of the most exciting creators in the Asia-Pacific region.

Over the five days at AFTRS there are 14 workshops and seminars planned, focused on topics such as production fundamentals, copyright, business-building, and VR/360.

There will also be a special event for Indigenous filmmakers. It’s anticipated that nearly 300 people will visit the space, including 150 creators, with a series of networking events also held throughtout the week.

On the production side, 22 of Australia and New Zealand’s top YouTubers – with a combined reach of around 11 million subscribers – will  shoot new content at the space. These will include Racka Racka, Wengie, Tom Thum, Jayden Rodrigues and SketchShe.

Whether or not there will eventually be a permanent YouTube Space in Australia is “too early to say”.

“A lot of what this program is about helping us understand the demand,” said Macdonald. “The fact that we’re here already doing this type of engagement with AFTRS is a good sign… We just need to figure out how much demand and what sort of investments we need to take in the future.”

However, more Pop-Ups should be expected. “We’ll be coming back at a much more regular pace,” said Macdonald. “As we go, I think we’ll offer a lot more support to a lot more creators in Australia… not just the top creators but down into some of the other smaller creators who are looking to grow.”

AFTRS CEO Neil Peplow said that while the school was on hand to help bolster the skills of these YouTube creators, co-hosting the space was a reciprocal partnership.

“We’re going to learn a lot from those creators,” he said  “You’ve got to look wider now. You can’t just say ‘I’m going to be a film director’, because the market has completely changed. I think you have to look all the different available platforms and ways to audiences. YouTube is a very important part of that ecosystem.”

“It’s crucial that our students and industry understand that. They also have to understand that they need more of a portfolio approach to the way that they create and then distribute.”

The YouTube Pop-Up Space runs at AFTRS November 2 – 6.


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