Some students play baseball or golf. Others dance, paint or horseback ride. Even more students participate in clubs like HOSA or DECA, but junior Grayden Knoll participates in an entirely unique after school activity: he’s a YouTuber.
Knoll has many other hobbies and interests like skateboarding and snowboarding, but his main focus is creating YouTube videos, although he incorporates his other hobbies into his content creation. In addition to posting boarding videos, he posts video blogs (vlogs) about his daily life.
Knoll started creating content for YouTube two years ago. He has always been interested in filmmaking and video producing but was unaware that he would end up investing so much of his free time into it. He has 192 videos, close to 450 subscribers and over 1,000 views on a select few videos.
“I got a GoPro and I was taking a lot of videos, but I wasn’t doing anything with them,” Knoll said. “I started editing and posting them—not really for anybody, just for myself. That’s kind of what started it, and it evolved from there.”
Knoll always loved movies and film as a kid, but making YouTube videos truly sparked his interest in pursuing a career in filmmaking.
“I’ve always liked watching movies, and I think creating a reality that’s super exciting is possible through video,” Knoll said. “I always liked cameras and filmmaking and the things you can do with it…. Once I saw what I could create with it, that’s when I really said, ‘This is something I could do for a living.’”
Knoll taught himself fundamental video editing skills and has continued to improve.
“I started with the basic stuff,” Knoll said. “I had Movie Maker on my computer, and I started messing around with that…. I quickly found the limitations of [Movie Maker] and wanted more, so I downloaded Sony Vegas and just kind of jumped in with both feet. I was confused but just sort of learned over time and watched tutorials on how to do things.”
Knoll devotes a lot of time to creating his videos, editing them and making them appealing to the masses. He feels like he creates his best videos when he’s serious about the whole process: thinking of the idea, recording, importing and editing for the public.
“I could spend two hours fully on a video and just have it be a crap video, and nobody would really enjoy watching it, so that’s the reason I put so much time into it,” Knoll said. “The time is spent sitting down, opening up a Word document and just start typing an idea that just comes to my head.”
Knoll created stickers to advertise his YouTube channel. According to Knoll, they are a “more modern take on business cards,” and people “just like stickers.”
“I tell all my friends about it,” junior Connor Lewis said. “I have his sticker on my laptop. I have an extra one—I’m thinking about putting one on my car.”
Knoll gets most of his inspiration from other smaller YouTubers like Sean Brown, but he also learns from more popular YouTubers like Casey Neistat. Knoll’s influences affect the way he produces his own content.
“I think taking inspiration from other people is a great way to elevate your own skills and your own content,” Knoll said. “I’ll see something in one video and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, I need to try that, and here’s how I’ll take my spin off of it.’ I think watching other YouTubers is a great way to keep the creative ball rolling.”
Still, Knoll strives to be different and offer unique content on YouTube. He is dedicated to creating his own brand.
“I think watching different people all doing the same thing is very boring,” Knoll said “I know that deep down, people have their own style, and people just need to find it and look for it. Once they have it, it’ll be a lot better than just copying someone else.”
At first, Knoll’s peers didn’t realize his video-making skills.
“It’s literally amazing,” Lewis said. “It’s so impressive. I never would’ve assumed he had such a skill in that, but he obviously does, and he thinks of very creative shots. He’s also always very excited to make new videos.”
Knoll’s classmates say they enjoy his videos because they are personal and make his audience feel included.
“I can’t skateboard, but I can watch Grayden skateboard and get enjoyment,” junior Chris Drake said. “It feels like we are doing it together, even though we’re not at all.”
– By Riley Koch & Ava Johnson