When I was a boy, filmmaking was something with which my friends would participate, but few shared my passion. Most of my friends would be along for the ride. When the film was done, I'd present it to family and friends, and that was the end of the story. We had a fun time, but the process ended there.
Teens who create on YouTube have an entirely different experience. Even the simplest cameras and editing software offer a level of sophistication that I could only dream about. While many young directors still might work with their friends at hand, they also are part of an exciting worldwide community of like-minded teens like themselves - people with who they communicate regularly through chat, voice and video, and with whom they often collaborate. The tools are only getting better, and their ability to work together is only improving. I'm excited about where this will all lead - for everyone.
While many teens still dream of movie and television careers, many of the YouTubers dream of continuing to create online video for years to come. Some have already reached the status of being a profit-sharing YouTube partner, and many, I'm sure, will take part or even invent new methods of monetizing online content.
Many of the teens I saw at Vidcon shared a similar sentiment when they posted their summary videos on YouTube after the conference - it was the best experience of their lives. Why? As much as they worked with and got to know each other online, the time they spent together at Vidcon was the highlight of their experience. As much as some adults may worry about the impersonal online world, I believe that most people - especially teens - don't perceive that world quite as disconnected from reality as some fear.
After all, social media is ultimately about real human contact.
[If you haven't seen it already, take a look at my video about making films as a kid, "Crazy Adventures: Why I'm Here!"]