(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Shows: Potato Jet and Gene Nagata
Where You Can Stream Them: YouTube
The Pitch: Los Angeles commercial filmmaker Gene Nagata (AKA Potato Jet) explores the world of filmmaking gear and techniques from his own hilarious point of view.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Watching: Potato Jet is a difficult YouTube channel to sum up in few sentences. Yes, it’s a YouTube channel focusing on filmmaking gear and techniques, but what makes it essential watching is Gene Nagata’s infectious excitement and out-of-the-box approach to presenting something that otherwise could be boring and overly technical. I watch a handful of filmmaking and photography YouTubers, and Potato Jet is the rare exception that my girlfriend Kitra is excited to watch with me.
His videos range from the latest consumer gear reviews (testing the latest 360-degree action camera on the fastest rollercoasters in California or putting cameras in an incubator meant for hatching chics to see how fast they overheat) to stunts like seeing what kind of footage a $94 point and shoot camera can achieve with the most expensive Hollywood accessories or testing the latest iPhone camera up against the cameras used to film the latest blockbuster films. His latest video focuses on how Steadicam operator Ari Robbins is using the world’s most advance camera stabilizer Arri Trinity on films like La La Land. And Gene might just accidentally light his hair on fire with a DIY flamethrower during the middle of a camera review – it’s that kind of channel.
I’ll never buy any of the expensive Hollywood gear that Nagata regularly uses, and honestly, I have little interest in the stuff he explores about the prosumer range, like remote-controlled submarine camera drones or Black Magic rigs. The videos are so much fun that the gear doesn’t matter. It’s the personality, not the topic. I discovered Potato Jet looking for camera and vlogging advice as Kitra and I have been experiencing our own YouTube journey with the creation of Ordinary Adventures, and have since binge-watched his entire back catalog of videos.
In one video, Gene talks about how his YouTube success (Potato Jet is now nearing on almost 600,000 subscribers) and explains that he worked for a long time with not that many viewers until that mythical “one video” (a story you hear a lot from YouTubers) launched him into the stratosphere. While explaining the pickup of this monumental video, Gene showed a montage of big news outlets that helped spread the story – one of them being /Film. No way! I did a search and realized I actually wrote up the video years ago for the site. It’s crazy that we were a small part of his growth and now he’s helping me in our growth with our youtube channel Ordinary Adventures.
I guess I’m cheating a bit by recommending not just one YouTube channel, but two, for today’s Quarantine Stream. But I own this place, so who’s gonna stop me?
Recently, Gene decided to launch his own personal vlog channel, Gene Nagata, which focuses more on his daily adventures than the gear (although the filmmaking interest of Nagata is always present). I’ve found myself more excited to watch the everyday vlogs showcasing the adventures of Gene, his trusty assistant/friend/editor Sam, his lovely girlfriend Kari and their cute dogs. Sometimes its a travelogue vlog from a trip to Mexico or Thailand (remember travel?) and other times it’s testing out a cheap $10 drone or learning that someone stole his motorcycle from his front yard (yup, that saga. was caught on video) or attempting to record a 24-long straight vlog with no cuts. It’s more ordinary and less focused, but somehow more appealing.
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