Fan Film, Fan Films

Fan Film Book Review: 15 Minutes of Fame

A few weeks ago, Chad Hurley, one of the co-founders of YouTube, posted his musings on the future of web video—and naturally, he felt his lil’ company would be the cornerstone of it. You can read his short posting here, but the main thing I walked away with was that 13 hours of video are posted to YouTube every minute. How the hell can you compete with that? By default, everyone who posts instantly becomes the smallest fish in the biggest pond ever. Perhaps then, you need to take a look at 15 Minutes of Fame: Becoming A Star in the YouTube Revolution, by Frederick Levy, (Alpha Books, $15.56 on ).

I mentioned this book a few weeks ago, but hadn’t had the opportunity to read it at the time. Having dug through it now, it’s fair to say that while 15 Minutes is primarily written for aspiring viral video stars (and young ones at that), a lot of the lessons here can be adapted for fan filmmakers.

Most of the book’s best advice boils down to common sense basics, but reiterating them isn’t a bad thing, and given the many, many interviews with viral “stars” in the book, you can see exactly how they executed those concepts to get where they are today. Some of the basics: Make videos based on good ideas (the most obvious advice…and yet the hardest to take); don’t be long-winded or boring; network with other videomakers on the site; post comments; make response videos; and so forth.

The book relies a little too much on raw interview transcripts, but the viewpoint that Levy, a working film producer in Hollywood, brings to the table is unique and worthwhile. You want your YouTube videos to launch you into professional filmmaking? Levy is one of those people on the other side of the fence who would pull the trigger to hire you, so if that’s your dream, getting his insights into what Hollywood looks for—and dismisses—is invaluable.

There’s no guaranteeing that a book can get your fan film noticed—and understandably, there’s no mention of the oft-rumored automated software programs that bulk up videos’ viewing numbers in order to game the system—but 15 Minutes of Fame is a relatively solid primer on how to grab some attention online. If you want to get it from Amazon, go —and remember, you get free shipping if you order more than $25 worth of books, so why not pick up my book, , while you’re at it (yes, throwing that in is utterly shameless self-promotion—one of the lessons I learned from 15 Minutes of Fame, so now you see it at work. Cool, huh?).

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