Animation Historian

ElectricDragon505

How I Built My Animated History And Review YouTube Channel From The Ground Up.

Full-Time Creator
July 1, 2020
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Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

My name is Mat Brunet, but you may know me more as AniMat from my YouTube channel ElectricDragon505. I’m a full-time content creator (or YouTuber as it’s been commonly referred) and I’m a one-man show that does everything like research, writing, recording and editing. It does happen when I’ll ask for outside help when creating my content like producing animations and hire actors, but for the most part, I make the videos all by myself.


My content mainly focuses on the topic of animation and discussing it in a variety of ways, rather it be regarding history through my Animation Lookback series, or taking a critical look at animated movies individually through AniMat’s Reviews and AniMat’s Classic Reviews. I also go into my other interests like Disney, video games, memes and more. I came up with my “Internet name”, as you’d say, when I realized sometime after I started making videos that the word “Animation” literally has my name on it in the middle. So I took away the “ion” and created a name that reflects both who I am and what I’m most passionate about with AniMat. As for the YouTube name ElectricDragon505, that’s from my company name Electric Dragon Productions, which I called it that because of the combination of things I like. I like electric powers, I like dragons, I think the number 505 is cool, so I used it all and it just stuck ever since.


Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory! 

When I was in my teen years, I was more of a dreamer than anything, always lost in my imagination and aspiring to, one day, make it big in the entertainment field like being an actor or something. However, that was it. I was just a dreamer, but didn’t really do much to take action on making them happen. It wasn’t until sometime in 2007 or 2008 when I discovered content creators like James Rolfe (a.k.a. the Angry Video Game Nerd) and the reviewers of ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com (back when the website was new and the company behind it had a reputation) that I was introduced to the world of making videos where you talk about your passions. Originally, I considered doing a video game series in the style of AVGN, but it seemed a little too complex to start, so I took inspiration from James’ Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness and made my own historical retrospective series, but talking about another passion of mine; Disney and Animation. That’s how I started my first series of videos with the original Animation Lookback: Walt Disney Animation Studios in October of 2009.


Following afterwards, that’s when I slowly found my identity as a content creator and what kind of videos I create with Animation Lookback as the foundation. I developed a review series where I mainly discuss about animated features with the first movie I did being, The Princess and the Frog. I created my online persona as AniMat where I developed a more “animated” personality of myself and wore what is now my signature costume with the orange fedora and made my debut in what is now my most popular video, the Top 10 Scariest Disney Moments. From there, I’ve made and experimented with several series and different types of videos like The Epic Mickey Files, AniMat Watches, editorials, top 10s, AniMat’s Crazy Cartoon Cast, AniMat’s Classic Reviews and many more. Over the years, it grew into such a great passion to creatively express myself and I was very fortunate enough to turn it into a well-paying job. It now gives me a reason to get out of bed because it’s the only thing that truly lets me be me. It helps boost my confidence and a motivator that I’m able to pursue other passions I want to try out in life like becoming a voice actor.


How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

It used to be spontaneous where I decided to just make a video about an idea I just got, but there have been so many ideas popping in my head that I keep them all noted for when it’s time to make a particular type of video and then see what could be the best subject to dive into. With reviews, I got a system where ideas are done for me, rather they be movies released in theatres, I get a request through Patreon or I literally pick a title out of a hat. But for more creative videos like Animation Lookback, Top 10s or editorials, I try to find what is the most interesting story to talk about or what is topic fascinates me the most to express my thoughts on. It cannot be just any regular topic or something that dozens of YouTubers already talked to death about, but something where it makes me feel like I have to share this with people, that it’s so fascinating and that I really want to learn more about so that I not only gained the knowledge from doing research for it, but also that others can learn more from what I’ve found.


If there is some advice I can give out in terms of finding ideas, I’ll just say that inspiration can come from everywhere. Sometimes you’ll find it, but for the most part, it will find you. Whenever you stumble upon a potential idea of what you could do, take note so you could remember. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t jump into it at that moment, at least you got it written down somewhere and you never know if it will come in handy in the future. If you end up with a block and feel like you’re stuck, then take a break. Take your mind off of it and either rest, take a walk or work on your hobby. Keep your distance until that drive to create comes back and you’ll feel fresh and energetic enough to break through that block.


What are the tools and platform you use to help with your brand?

Over the years, I’ve seen many platforms come and go. Some had great potential and others unfortunately fell hard like vid.me, Vine and Blip. Nowadays, considering that I am only one person, I keep only a handful of platforms like YouTube and Patreon as my main platforms, Facebook where I manage a public casual account and an official account meant to just present my videos and Twitter as another public casual account. I also have Twitch, but that’s more for livestream content like my podcast (AniMat’s Crazy Cartoon Cast), and let’s plays, which I still need to get a high-end PC to have the power to properly do it and bring back that show.


As for my software, my main ones have always been Adobe. More specifically, Premiere Pro for editing, Audition for recording, After Effects for special effects like green screen and Photoshop and Illustrator for creating images. Believe it or not, when I started making videos, I had zero experience with any of these softwares. My first video was my first time using them. Over the years, I keep learning about using new techniques with them in order to continuously improve my videos and that’s another thing that does drive me when creating, always wanting to improve. I always push myself to be better than before, so that’s why I always look for ways to learn new techniques and skills to make my content look and sound better. In a way, it’s the artist’s pursuit for perfection. I might never reach it, but hey, as long as it helps me become better than before! 


What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it? 

I wouldn’t necessarily say I had any big fears when starting out. I was quite naive when entering this. I had my moments like my first taste of copyright claims on one of my first Animation Look back videos and first set of negative comments when people disagreed with one of my first reviews, but once those kicked off, it can set a toll when they can cause issues with your work. You can get afraid that the system itself is out to get you and worry if YouTube’s copyright system will one day become full-on aggressive and destroy your channel and everything you’ve built.


At the same time, it can also get into your head when there’s people who don't like you. Many often forget how expressing your opinion on anything on the Internet can be quite dangerous, especially when it’s part of your job. In fact, without knowing, some people consider me to be an enemy because they take it personally how they disagree with my opinion on something. At that point, the only crime I’ve committed was expressing my thoughts, rather it be controversial political news or just on a harmless kids’ movie, but on the Internet, it only takes very little for someone you’ve never met in your life to proclaim that they hate you and have them assume they know everything about you. But one more thing you can fear is yourself. We’re all human and we’ll have times when we’ll mess up, but on the Internet, making a slip-up can cause a mountain out of a molehill, especially when there are people that are always hungry for seeing drama unfurl. When you’re in the center of it and know you’re in the wrong, it’s very humiliating and soul-crushing. So it is possible when you can feel like you’re your own worst enemy and don’t know if you trust yourself to not say something stupid that people can exploit and drive a hard hate campain against you.


But in order to overcome all this, sometimes you just gotta accept how these things are and learn how to grow from these experiences. The best way to get rid of trouble is responding it the right way. It can be a challenge when YouTube’s throwing all these obstacles at you, but there are many ways to go around it and never be afraid to ask for help. I know I’ve rarely got out of a strike or two on my own. If you’ve been on the Internet for as long as I have, then it will happen when you will do ro say something wrong, which is why it is always important to stay humble, empathetic and apologize if need be. Never fall into rage, put your emotions first or antagonize those who called you out in those moments because that will only make things worse. Also, a nasty truth in life is that not everyone will like you and you will have your haters who will try to find even a tiny insignificant thing to justify their distaste for you (I even got a few who hate me because they find my voice “annoying”). As Dr. Seuss once said, “Be who you are and say how you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”. Forget the haters and if they’re gonna try to pick a fight or try to make people turn on you in your comment section, don’t be afraid to block that person or delete their comment. It’s better to get rid of the toxicity than to let it simmer where it can haunt you later on.


How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

At first, it only began as a fun little hobby. Just something to pass the time and express myself creativity. But after a few years and I started making money off of this, I began to take it more seriously and develop a plan to turn it into a proper business. With the help of many content creating friends and acquaintances along the way to strengthen my skills, I started posting videos weekly, open my options for merchandising and experiment with the kind of videos to make and see what sticks, all while further developing AniMat as a recognizable icon.


But if I have to give credit to one thing that significantly helped my channel to grow as a business, it’s Patreon. There are so many amazing people that took that extra step to support me and it’s because of their help I was able to afford better equipment like a better camera, lighting, equipment, extra filmmaking softwares and more. Of course, my family and friends were a great help as well with their support and getting me some of the tools I still use today for my work. 


Some may say that my success came at a slow pace where I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, but it shows how with enough dedication and a strong will to never give up, luck will eventually come to you and will reap in the rewards. I will say that it was a very tough journey to make it to the big 100K subscribers and there were a few videos that did help me get that big push like Animation Lookback: Ralph Bakshi, The History of Legends of Oz videos and some Top 10s from the past, but it was quite perfect timing that not only near my birthday, but also on my channel’s 10th anniversary, I finally made it and I still consider it one of my proudest achievements to this day.


For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

The most important thing to get into it is to do it because you love doing what you do. Nobody is ever successful when they do this for the money or to become famous because it’s easily noticeable when the heart is not put into a project. Start with your reward being the satisfaction of giving people enjoyment and have fun spending time with your content. And you’re doing all that by making yourself happy because you’re doing what you love, regardless of what that may be. The fame and money will come later and even when they arrive, that’s still secondary because people still want to come to see that love and passion fuel your content.


Also, this is something that many people are guilty of doing, including myself.

Stop comparing yourself to others because, regardless if it’s good or bad, it’s never healthy.

I’ve had my times when traction is slow and I look at other content creators that talk about animation with envy or even jealousy and how they can easily pull off videos that can get hundreds of thousands of views with no problem or how they already made it to a major milestone with their subscriber count like at 250K or 500K. I know so many that go through this, but their success story is theirs. Only you can build your own path of success, so it’s best to forget what everyone else is doing and focus on yourself and your own content in order to achieve your own success story.


And I think this cannot be stressed or repeated enough. PLEASE take breaks! I know some want to push themselves and prioritize to finish a project above everything else, but keep in mind that burnouts are a real thing and they suck. That’s why it’s always important to take some time off of your schedule from working on your content and relax yourself to fuel up on your energy so you can get back pumped up and stronger than ever to continue your work.


How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

I guess you could say I learned the hard way that I wanted to commit to working on my videos and make that my full-time job. When I was a content creator for about 2-3 years, I had a seasonal job at Wal-Mart and it was not pleasant at all. Luckily I got let go because they did not like my school schedule at the time. A couple of years later, I tried to apply for other part-time jobs not because I wanted to, but more that’s what my family wants of me and I wanted them to be happy for me. Handing out those CVs were not rewarding in the slightest and I even broke down during that night because this was not the future I wanted. I don’t want to be paid to be miserable, I wanted to get paid for doing something that I love.


I am so lucky that I have loving and understanding parents that gave me a chance to prove myself and who want to see me happy and that ultimately paid off (even literally) where I couldn’t be happier to be where I am now. However, I am still someone who believes that, regardless of where you are in life, graduating from school is always important. I still graduated high school and college in Fine Arts, so I still recommend that you stay in school at least for the sake of having a basic form of a safety net. 


Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

I guess I can start off by saying how I’ve done this for over 10 years now and still going strong. Most content creators never survive making videos for that long, let alone even 5. But I’m someone who finds it nearly impossible to give up and I’m still on the internet presenting my wacky personality while presenting my opinions, talking about movies, discussing animation history and many more. Just by doing that for so long, I must’ve made quite a name for myself by this point.


And, I’ve said this before, but reaching 100K subscribers had always been a major goal as a content creator on YouTube, like the ultimate dream. Now that I’ve made it and got my Silver Plaque, I guess the next step is to grow from there and see how far this channel can reach. Maybe the growth will still be slow or will now be faster because I hit the 6-digits in subscribers, but it that milestone serves as a great reminder that achieving your goals and making your dreams happen is indeed possible.


But there is one milestone that I consider my first “big one”. It was somewhere in 2014 or 2015 when the first half of the Top 10 Scariest Disney moments hit 1 million views, my first viral video. It was a very proud moment and I’m still not sure how it ended up becoming so popular, especially when I released that one back in Halloween of 2010. It goes to show that you never know what your most popular video will be or when it will happen. If nothing else, people will know me best as the kid with an orange fedora, a funny voice and finds the Pleasure Island scene from Pinocchio, Donald Duck going crazy with an axe and the Haunted Mansion to be scary.


What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

The content itself always takes top priority. I focus on making it the best it can be and then I get to showing it off wherever I can like on social media. When the content itself is good, then it should also be good enough to carry its own marketing as a video that is worth watching and that others will do the marketing for you. It’s always good to share your content all around and make announcements about what you’re doing, but make sure first and foremost that what you are promoting is good enough to show off to everyone.


When you work on a platform like YouTube or on social media, a key element on making your work is to be yourself while making your craft to have it truly stand out from the rest. In a way, being yourself is a marketing strategy and as long as you keep yourself active publicly, even if your making little random posts on Twitter or Facebook, you’re marketing yourself to present who you are. So, for me, as long as I stay true to myself and give some room to be open on the Internet, I’m simultaneously doing some marketing work because I am my own brand.


How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships? 

That is honestly something that I still need to improve my skills on, haha! But seriously, it’s rare that I get to do a brand deal and, even when I do one, I’m not sure if it actually is effective in selling the brand to my audience. The best brand I was able to sell is myself and my Patreon page. Then again, I can be quite picky with my brand deals and which one I feel like something I am passionate about where I want it to sell or what can spark a great idea to do something very creative.


I use to have this character named AniMays (a parody of Billy Mays) and make my promoted spots parodies of infomercials, but then when I decided the Lootcrate sponsorships were not worth it, I put AniMays on the side until the time will come once again for his grand return. Most recently, I did this video to promote body pillows with covers of seductive anime girls on them and decided to make this comedy/horror skit with it. The reaction from audiences were very mixed, but all were completely shocked. Don’t know if I sold any body pillows with that commercial, but it was worth it to try something new creatively and see everyone’s priceless reactions (a friend said it best that I trolled my audience with a promo).


But in all honesty, I’ve never had any great experience with brand deals or sponsorships. In a way, I did do a couple of interviews to promote Kickstarters of animation documentaries like Hand Drawn and one on Will Vinton, so that kind of does count and II hope to do more interviews like that in the future, especially for bigger projects. In fact, one goal I’d like to do for brand deals is promote a big-name animated feature. Now THAT would be quite a sponsorship to do. I would be more than any to go promote a strong animated project.


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