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Today we have the chance to chat with one of Youtube’s The Rents – Mandy Fox, about how she runs her Youtube channel. The Rents, for those who don’t know, consist of married couple Chris Raynor (AKA Stablekneez) and Mandy Fox (AKA TheFurFiles). They are proud parents to three kids, all of whom do their thing on Youtube as well – Roary Raynor of The Lionyls, Quintessa Evangeline, and Charles AKA Wolfieraps.
The reason we wanted to talk to Mandy is to get the inside scoop on the creative process behind her videos, which involve humorous skits on different topics with her husband Chris, and, as of late, vlogging. Running a Youtube channel these days is a lot like running a business, or it can be, if that’s your goal. Youtube nowadays can be a full time job if that’s what you set your mind too, and just as financially viable as any other job, which would seem surprising to some folks who are used to traditional types of employment. Here’s a quick intro to The Rents if you don’t know these guys.
But what we want to know is just how easy is it to make videos like these? What is involved, technically and creatively speaking? Does publishing a video energize you and make you feel good, or leave you feeling drained and suicidal? And just what drives Mandy and Chris to do what they’re doing right now? Is it exhibitionism? Sadism? Masochism? Doing it for the money? Putting pet food in the bowl? Our “agent”, musician Young Coconut, dusts off his crappy wireless interviewing microphone and hits Mandy with the tough questions. Here’s how it went!
YC: So Mandy, you’re one of the Rents. Who are The Rents, anyway, and what is the idea behind your Youtube channel? Why are you out there making videos for the people?
AF: I am indeed one of The Rents. The better half LOL. And who are we? We are Chris and Mandy. We are a married couple just like any other married couple – revelling in and suffering through life’s ups and downs. We’ve been together for almost 30 years. We are also parents to three crazy kids – Zach (a rock star in training), Charles – a Youtube personality (that’s probably the safest way to put it), and Quintessa – our “rebel without a cause”, musician, dancer, animal rights advocate and nazi chef. We make videos for a few reasons, but mostly to document our lives and force ourselves to spend time together (Chris is a surgeon and we run a family business which means we have very busy lives) – and to represent what’s real in a world where everything is fake. To me, those are the most important things.
YC: Those seem like pretty reasonable answers. Do you consider yourself a tech-y person? I can only assume you have some technical knowledge, as you make videos, and those videos go beyond just filming yourself and publishing what you filmed. Like, there’s editing, right? Who does all tedious stuff?
AF: I don’t really consider myself a “techy” person. Chris is. Not me. I am an “art” person though, and out of the desire to “create”, I’ve had to learn some of the technical side. So yeah, I know about some of the equipment that’s needed to make the videos (cameras, add-ons, lighting, etc.), and I know how to use the computer programs to put those videos together, like Final Cut Pro and Photoshop – two things I use mainly. I do most of the editing – first cut, and then adding in effects, and outside clips, stuff like that. Chris also does some of that, but he doesn’t have much time so it’s mainly me.
YC: Ok, I gotcha. So what are you filming with device-wise?
AF: Filming with a Canon G7X – it’s a vlogging camera that a lot of Youtubers use apparently.
AF: A Joby tripod helps as does a micro muff. Having more than one battery and memory card is helpful.
YC: So you picked this stuff up just for the purpose of the Youtube stuff I take it.
AF: Yes. The camera cost $1000 and the other things a few hundred here and there. Regular camera couldn’t really do the job. You need to be able to flip the screen so you can see yourself and then see what you are doing a minute later.
YC: Aha, that makes sense.. how do you like the camera then?
AF: Yeah, I like it. I wouldn’t mind have even better quality imagery, but that will come in another camera down the road. I know that the cameras that others are using are amazing quality, but they are bigger and more cumbersome. I don’t want that, so I’ll wait for the smaller ones to get better.
YC: Good call. Ok, so I guess we’re getting into your “process” here a bit. So… you gather the footage, or film stuff, then I guess at some point you sit down with .. what program, Final Cut?
AF: So yeah, I gather footage first. Now that we are vlogging mainly – it’s easier to do and more popular it seems than the other things we’ve done in the past. So I get the footage and then I start chopping it up on Final Cut. Take all the clips, cut out all the dead space, and pasting them together.
YC: Doesn’t sound too complicated. I guess vlogging is the way to go for some reason now. Cause I assume that’s a lot less technical than making some of your more involved videos. Because the more “concept” videos, even though they’re not complicated, they still have some little effects going on that require more editing.
AF: Less technical and you just videotape what you are doing. That’s it. Sure you pick and choose what to show, but it’s still better than coming up with a grand “idea” and putting that whole thing together. Buying supplies, etc. Coming up with the idea is often the hardest part. But if you are of the mindset that you are just documenting your life in a kind of artsy way, then that is easier. Plus, vlogs typically don’t have too many effects. Or additions. Just straight footage.
YC: What do you think makes a good vlog that will get people interested? Is it just having a quirky life, or.. are vlogs the new sitcoms?
AF: I think most people could make a vlog of their life. It’s about picking out the interesting things and showing them. I guess you do have to do more than just sit on the couch, but even people make videos doing that LOL.
YC: So why do people watch that?
AF: Maybe it’s more about your personality. You have to be interesting – at least not like a rug on the floor.
YC: What do you think it is about your life that people are into?
AF: People seem to watch how other people live – living vicariously through them.
YC: What are commenters saying? Do you look at those?
AF: I think maybe we do things or we can show things that not many people might get to see – like Chris being a doctor, like us running a business, like the kids trying to be performers, etc. I don’t think we do normal jobs.
YC: Right, so how about your posting schedule.. is this significant? Cause I guess you whip up a vlog, then you post it.. and that’s it, or do you hustle a bunch of social media channels to promote it?
AF: Yes, we look at the comments. Most people just say trivial things, but some make comments like they are interested in seeing how to do things – exercise, eat healthy, what it means to be a surgeon. They seem genuinely interested in what is going on. So we can show them. Problem is driving the content out to a wider audience. Since we started with Charles’ audience (after our son shouted us out), it’s time for us to develop our own. Timing is key. The nights/days and times you post make a difference. As does sharing across all social media. So we look at our analytics, see what are the best times to post, and then get things ready for that time. And yes, we share across as many social media profiles as we can. The other thing is maintaining those social media profiles outside of posts about your videos. You have to post regularly outside of that. It’s all social media all the time – on all platforms, sharing, seeing what else is happening out there, engaging with people, etc.
YC: How do you like doing this compared with say, “normal” jobs? Like your gym (Human 2.0) and the doctor stuff for Chris.
AF: I like it better just because there is more freedom. I don’t have to “be” anywhere at any given time. I’m not responsible for staff – at least not now. We are only responsible for ourselves and whatever we output.
YC: When did you start in on the YouTube stuff again, and how has it changed since you started? AND…would you recommend others try it? I’m a question asking machine over here!
AF: We started a little less than a year ago. Some things have changed – how often we post, what we post, we learn as we go. Certain rules and restrictions on Youtube itself have changed so we have to be careful not to include anything that might be considered age restrictive.
YC: I guess it’s fair to say that, barring content that offends advertisers, anything kind of goes. Is all your content on the level then?
AF: Yeah it’s all on the level LOL. No swearing, no controversial topics, no inappropriate stuff. Just fun regular day to day antics.
YC: Do you have any major complaints about living dat Youtube lyfe?
AF: No complaints other than it’s sometimes hard keeping up. But then we are working a bunch of other jobs too. It’s just going to take time to establish to the point we want it. That’s the main advice I’d give. Be prepared to make a commitment. It’s not going to happen overnight. Treat it just like any other job – to be successful at it will take time and commitment.
YC: Is there anything you want to convey through your channel, in terms of a “message”? Just crazy antics, or do you want to promote say your gym, Human 2.0? Do you take any pointers from your kids channels? ie. Wolfieraps, The Lionyls, Quintessa?
AF: For the vids, I really want to convey normalcy, as in not fake. Maybe crazy and not typical, but just not fake. I think people need to see that. It’s good for their psyches. If I can promote my gym – and we have – then so be it, but that is not the main goal. Also, I want to be able to make money at something that is more mine than my husband’s. My own career. I can do that with this. It’s more flexible than a regular job. It’s creative. It involves my family. I can make it about my morals and social messages. Yeah, and hopefully I can make some money to create my other dream – sustainable, multigenerational housing. And sure I take pointers from my kids’ channels. I see how they do things, timing wise, technically, that sort of stuff. As much as we try to include trends, we aren’t 20 something so trying to be them is stupid and not realistic. We can only be ourselves – at the same time, trying to include updated thinking for this social media platform – and go from there. And when the young people say we are “irrelevant” we don’t care because we know there are others like us out there. We just have to connect with them and keep plugging away. If that guy who carves up gummy worms can make popular youtube videos, so can we.
YC: A couple more things, if you please. How important is humour to your videos? Like, even in the editing there’s obviously an element of that in there. How hard is it to convey something funny through something tedious like editing? Also, you did that one video that relates to music and like old school rap. How important is music to your overall approach? Obviously you guys are into music.
AF: Humour is very important. Not too hard to incorporate in the editing. I know what I think is funny. I just include it. Adding effects – memes, or slowing down, adding voiceovers, just comes to mind when looking at the stuff. Pretty simple. Yeah, we had fun doing the music video. Since we vlog our lives, and since music is a big part of that – for ourselves, and for our kids (they all make music) – then it just get included. Not all the time, but it’s definitely woven in the fabric of it all.
YC: Well, it sounds like you have a good thing going. Thanks for your time Mandy! Hopefully our readers got a little something out of this whole debacle.
AF: Sure, no problem. Bye!