10 years ago, Youtube was just distant thought in its founders heads. It now has over a billion users and almost 15 million videos about cats. Not only is it making cats well famous, but it is changing the way people watch film and is opening up the world of filmmaking to people who couldn't have got there before.
I owe a lot to YouTube for what has been an awesome year for me. Writing, acting and filmmaking have been part of my life since I could hold a camera and now, together with the very talented Dee Kartier, Percelle Ascott and Freddie Osborne, we have millions of people watching Mandem on The Wall - our online comedy series about three youths chatting about life on their estate. What started on YouTube has led us to starring in the E4 series Youngers; to presenting an award at this year's MOBOs and to giving a TED talk about our success so far.
Without support from like-minded people, none of that would have happened. Our YouTube series is mostly self-funded; It's the support we get from the producers, directors, editors, actors and loads of other people who believe in us that gives us the means to keep going and produce content that our fans want to see. Making good video is not as easy for people as it is for cats, a lot of hard work goes into film, be that a five minute skit from Mandem On The Wall or the next epic superhero movie.
The film industry is a virtuous circle - if film and TV doesn't make back the investment then there is much less support for new talent and ultimately less good content out there to watch. YouTube gives us an accessible platform, but the industry has to be able to support young filmmakers - be that financial support or offering up free expertise to kick-start careers. When it comes down to it, filmmakers need to make money to keep going and that means people need to show their support by using legitimate channels; not piracy.
Our success is a product of a new way of watching video and more and more content is going online, which means the opportunity to choose piracy is growing. Encouraging people to show support for filmmakers - by using official channels to access those films - is something we really believe in. That's why we're representing ScreenThing, a pro-copyright community on Facebook which is working to show young people the huge effort that goes on behind the scenes in the hope they choose to watch TV and film through official channels.
Without that support the industry can't invest in new talent or new films. The buzz you get from people watching and enjoying a video you've made is unbeatable. I want more of that and I want up and coming filmmakers to experience that same feeling. In my mind, supporting the industry is win win - we can carry on making films and fans can carry on watching good stuff. The alternative isn't worth considering. Cats can only entertain us for so long.
Joivan Wade is an ambassador for ScreenThing. Check out facebook.com/screenthing to find out more. Find out more about Mandem On The Wall here: http://www.youtube.com/user/MandemOnTheWall