Joe Kowalski is a YouTube star who goes by the name PogieJoe. He directed the short film One Day; here is a link to his YouTube channel:
Q: What is One Day about?
A: One Day: A Musical, released on the fourth anniversary of my YouTube channel, revolves around a fictionalized version of that day and myself. In the story, I am preparing for a party celebrating my YouTube accomplishments when everything goes awry. I end up going through a journey in which I confront who I am, what I believe in and what’s important to me…in (why not?) song and dance. I think it’s a very fun and relatable little film and anyone can watch it for free on YouTube.
Q: How did you come up with your PogieJoe character?
A: I didn’t really consciously do much to create my character. I primarily took who I already am and cranked it up to 11.
Q: What inspired you to start making YouTube videos in the first place?
A: I had been making elaborate little videos utilizing myself and my siblings ever since I was ten and had fantasies of doing so even before that, so it seems like a really natural progression looking back. I wanted a YouTube channel even earlier than 2010 but my family was still oddly suspicious of it at the time so I had to show them it was alright. “No one’s going to hunt us down and try to murder us because I put a comedy video online, dad…”
It’s such a freeing medium. I always try to create something that I myself would want to see instead of following most trends or what others tell me I should make. I never want to make the same video twice. With every new work I want to dabble–trying new genres, editing styles, music, camera angles…it’s a great, constantly evolving experiment for me.
Q: Who are some of your favorite YouTubers?
A: Oh man, I could go on for millennia. I’m in constant awe of Neil Cicierega, the creator of Potter Puppet Pals and The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, which are the two things he’s most known for by teens and 20-somethings. He’s a lot more than that though…he’s consistently brought some of the most wonderfully surrealist and brilliantly oblique-humored creations the Internet has ever seen. They just swing under the radar for most. Another favorite is ZeFrank, who is rightfully considered the Father of the Video Blog. His work is always fresh and fantastic!
The person that got me most interested in creating YouTube videos though is Craig Benzine, AKA Wheezywaiter. He once quite accurately his show as “a combination of The Colbert Report, Letterman, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and Mr. Rogers.” I’ve been following him for about five or six years now and he’s still having a blast.
Other huge inspirations include Jeremiah McDonald, Vsauce, FilmCow, Mickeleh, charlieissocoollike, Glove and Boots, Vlogbrothers, 5secondfilms, CGPGrey, sWooZie, Tales of Mere Existence, cyriak, and TomSka. That’s a pretty long list but they all deserve major kudos for what they do.
Q: What is the secret to getting a lot of hits?
A: If you find out, please let me know!
Nah, there’s easy, very deceiving ways to gain lots of views but I’d rather have a bit of class and integrity. My channel is very small in comparison to any of the “popular” ones but the audience I do have is very engaging and fun. It definitely helps to work with bigger YouTubers or celebrities though. The videos where I’ve managed that typically have a much higher view count.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it effect your video making?
A: Actually I work for a small video production company so they’re pretty good about it! It’s not where I want to be for the rest of my life but it’s a nice stepping stone to bigger and better things for right now. The best part is that they are usually very flexible. When I made my musical movie this summer they actually let me take a whole week off to film it.
Q: How long does it take for you to make and edit an average video?
A: It truly depends on a number of factors. If I’ve got the massive two-ton weight of a deadline looming over my head on a slowly burning rope, I’ll rush one out in a day. That’s not ideal in the least though. Typically I like to take a week or so…a day or two to write it out, another to shoot, a couple more to edit/add special effects, and then uploading, social media, and several other platforms I use that require a bit more time and planning like e-mailing it out in a newsletter and putting it on my Roku app. (Roku is a streaming service for TVs.) There’s many videos though that I’ve worked on slowly over a period of weeks or even months.
Q: What is the strangest comment anyone has ever made about your videos?
A: A couple of years ago there was this bill called SOPA that was designed to specifically restrict the Internet in an awful number of ways. However, awesomely, it seemed like the whole Internet globbed together to fight it and stop it once and for all. As a joke I made a video called “Why I Support SOPA” in which I ranted for 45 seconds about how we needed SOPA to wash our hands and stay clean, the joke being, of course, that I was confusing SOPA with soap. It was a super obvious joke. I even put links in the description showing petitions people could sign to help fight SOPA and ended the video by pretending that it was cut off due to being censored by the villainous bill.
What I found quite funny is the swarm of thousands of people who arrived and left long elaborate comments about how I was an idiot to believe in supporting SOPA. Their insults were often uproariously dimwitted. It was baffling that so many people either didn’t watch a mere 45 second video before leaving a comment or had such a blindingly terrible radar for sarcasm.
Q: Why Oberlin, OH and not Hollywood?
A: I would love to move to Hollywood someday! As of right now though, I’m still building my repertoire. I’ve only been working on film and TV projects professionally for about a year now so I’d like some more experience here in the Cleveland area before I take the dive over there. I currently have a good job, a fantastic family and girlfriend, am working to get an Associate of Arts, and another movie idea in the works. California’s definitely in sights sometime in the next five to ten years though. Definitely.
Q: What was your most popular video and why do you think it was popular?
A: My most popular has changed several times over the years but right now it’s a video called “‘The Why Are You So Ugly?’ Song” that I made years ago. It’s literally just me in my room playing five chords on the guitar singing about how strikingly ugly the viewer is. It’s a very silly song and while I think the lyrics still have some wit to them I’m not too attached to it because it feels a little more cruel now than it once did. I think its popularity is mostly due to people sending it to friends and the like. “This ‘uns about you!” I’ve had much much better videos over the years that I feel deserve more popularity but creators don’t get to decide things like that. People themselves never create their own legacy…that’s entirely left up to the world at large. And perhaps it’s better that way.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)