Creator of the Week with Danny O’Dwyer
Meet Danny O’Dwyer, a producer who launched a full-time career creating video game documentaries!
Location: Oakland, CA
Patreon Page: www.patreon.com/dannyodwyer
Q+A with Danny O’Dwyer
How did you get your start as a video game documentary producer?
Before YouTube exploded I used to make internet videos around video games with my friends. It was all a means to an end to try and land a job at my favorite video game website GameSpot UK in London. So I guess I learned most of the technical aspects by just playing around with my friends. When I eventually did get my break and land that job I was fortunate enough to have the confidence to make editorial features that were a bit more substantive than most of the clickbait in games coverage. I made a short feature about video games as a coping mechanism for depression, and then a feature on my favorite video game developer. After a few years I was hired by our main office in San Francisco and I just decided to make bigger ones. Because these were always passion projects that I had to do on top of my regular editorial work, the team was always very small – usually myself and one camera operator. It didn’t take long to figure out this was something I didn’t need the backing of a large corporation to run.
You’re making over 22K a month on Patreon from 3,975 patrons! What qualities helped you end up where you are today?
You mean besides luck and the incredible passion of my community? It’s hard to put a finger on why Noclip has succeeded so much so early. I think it helps that we are an incredibly economic production team. Myself and my colleague Jeremy Jayne produce all of these videos ourselves. He films and color corrects our gorgeous footage. I write and edit the features. That and the lowering cost of professional camera equipment and software has made an enterprise like ours possible. But I also think that games coverage has woefully underserved the needs of gamers. Noclip shouldn’t be a breath of fresh air – but because we don’t care about advertising, clickbait or paid content – we’re able to get to the heart of the story without compromise. In that respect, Noclip has an unfair advantage over 99% of games coverage. Advertising is a crutch for most publications. Our outright rejection of it, is in fact our strongest asset.
When was the hardest time in your creative career, and what do you wish your present self could’ve told your past self during that time?
The start, before I had an audience. Everything is easier once you have feedback. Without feedback you can’t tell what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. That’s why I try and give feedback and advice about this industry to anyone who asks. I lived it for six years and I remember what that feels like.
Without feedback you can’t tell what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. That’s why I try and give feedback and advice about this industry to anyone who asks.
You’ve been a creator on Patreon for over 6 months now! Why did you first decide to launch your page, and what role does it play in your creative goals?
I can’t give Kinda Funny enough credit. Greg Miller was a constant source of inspiration and support also. Those guys were the first through the wall. The entire industry watched them land on the moon and once we all saw them do it everyone knew it was possible. I had a strong belief that my work was always cost-effective and popular enough to survive on it’s own. Once the pieces were in place it was just a matter of taking the leap. Patreon was the perfect partner for a project like Noclip. Without the platform, its tools and the amazing support team, these documentaries would have never been made.
How have your fans helped you throughout your creative career?
My fans are the only reason anything of mine exists. Much of my career in the games press was spent making things that management didn’t think would work, but having my decision justified by passionate fans. To have hundreds of thousands of people give me the thumbs up while the people around me were shaking their hands, kept me sane. Noclip was my dream, but they were the ones that made it a reality. I’m incredibly fortunate to have such a passionate group of people around me. I don’t consider them “fans” to be honest. I feel like we’re all part of a movement, and I’m just the one with the megaphone.
In your experience, what does Patreon mean for artists and creators?
I expected Patreon to be a parachute, but in my experience its been a rocket strapped to my back. I can certainly see that not every creator has enjoyed the same strong launch that I have, but even having direct communication with my audience, no matter how big, is a massive asset. It’s as much a platform to communicate art, as it is a platform to manage funds.
I expected Patreon to be a parachute, but in my experience its been a rocket strapped to my back. Click To Tweet
What are three things you’ve done to grow your audience over time?
Listen to them. Talk to them. Make cool stuff.
What is the greatest challenge you face right now as a creator?
The business side! Trying to figure out taxes, invoices, deductibles. That stuff can pull you away from the creative work sometimes. But I can’t complain, it’s a good problem to have.
When times are tough as a creator, is there anything you continue to come back to, something that keeps you going and keeps your eye on the prize?
I do Patron Google Hangouts every month or so and they’re always a massive source of calm. Watching people’s enthusiasm for the work puts me back on track when things get hard. Aside from that, taking time off, going on walks, getting away from computer screen and spending time with my wife keep me sane.
What’s next for you? Are there any exciting projects or big goals you are working towards?
So much! We’re flying to Tokyo in a few weeks for our first documentary in Japan. We’re filming in Europe later this year on a very exciting project akin to our DOOM documentary.
What was something you did that was difficult but worth the effort that you recommend all creators try?
Stepping away every once in awhile. No matter if things are going good or bad, it’s important to step back and get perspective from time to time. To rekindle the passion and energy you had at launch. Your fans just want you to make the stuff you like making. The most important part of that is you.
Your fans just want you to make the stuff you like making. The most important part of that is you. Click To Tweet
That’s all, folks! Want to say hey? Reach out to Danny here: