First annual Buffer Festival attracts YouTube celebrities from around the world


YouTube celebrities left the virtual world and hit the big screens in Toronto for the first annual Buffer Festival.

 Last weekend, theatres across downtown Toronto, including the TIFF Bell LightBox, ScotiaBank Theatre, Glenn Gould Studio, CN Tower Maple Leafs Theatre and Jane Mallet Theatre, showcased the work of popular YouTubers.

Thousands of YouTube addicts left their homes for the three-day event.  Shows centred around YouTubers, screening the best videos from their successful channels while others displayed a collection of videos like musical comedies or viral videos.

The top talents behind the popular and growing field of small-screen entertainment hosted screenings and answered questions from fans in the audience afterwards.

Khyan Mansley, writer and director of short films such as The Tea Chronicles, believes YouTube is just hitting its stride in the online world.

“With YouTube there is so much experimentation left, with more room for storytelling that hasn’t been told yet. I just want to be part of that,” said Mansley, speaking to the audience after screening a series of short films.

Online, the only options fans have is to click the “like” button and comment on videos, but the festival invited fans to interact with YouTubers in person at meet-ups where they took pictures, and got autographs with their favourite YouTube star. 

Khyan Mansley( left) and Charlie Mcdonnell (right) answering questions from the audience after screening a short film called "The Tea Chronicles".

Khyan Mansley, left, and Charlie Mcdonnell answer questions from audience after screening  “The Tea Chronicles.”

The festival had more than 50 Internet personalities in attendance including Michael Buckley, Hannah Hart, Charlie Mcdonnell and local YouTube star Andrew Gunnarolla, who produced a music video called Canadian, Please, which has surpassed 10 million views. 

“It’s great to have this in my hometown. Connecting with all of our viewers is awesome. Being able to celebrate all the content on YouTube is amazing,” said Gunnarolla, who is also on the board of advisors committee for the event.

Former MuchMusic VJ Tim Deegan and Shira Lazar, creator of the talk show Partners Project, hosted the Red Carpet premiere. It allowed fans to see famous YouTubers up close, as they slowly walked their way into the Jane Mallet Theatre for the audience party.

Fans wait along the YouTube Red Carpet for the YouTube stars to arrive.

Fans wait along the YouTube Red Carpet for stars to arrive.

The event was streamed live on YouTube, allowing not only people in Toronto to experience the event, but the entire country.

“It’s finally good to see all the YouTubers we see everywhere else in our country,” says Deegan.

The stars had positive feedback about the festival.

“Toronto is the best place to do this because the city has the facilities downtown to make it a amazing experience. As YouTube gets bigger year after year, so will this,” says Tay Zonday a singer, comedian and video producer of “Chocolate Rain,” which has more than 94 million YouTube views.

For some of the stars, YouTube is not only a way to entertain people, but also a way to spread a message.

Davey Wavey, one of YouTube’s lead online voices for the gay and lesbian community, claims that his channel has been able to reach out and vocally help people accept a person for who they are in a humorous way.

“The festival is not in a conventional format, which allows more interactions. For me it’s sweet to meet the people that allow us to do what we do. I feel like I have the best job in the world.  

 YouTube has catapulted many people into the bright lights of Hollywood, including Justin Bieber. It’s starting from scratch and being able to work your way up that is the best part according to Canadian country writer, and interactive artist of the year Leah Daniels.

Former VJ at MuchMusic, Tim Deegan, and internet personality Shira Lazar hosting the YouTube Red Carpet.

Former VJ at MuchMusic, Tim Deegan, and internet personality Shira Lazar hosting the YouTube Red Carpet.

“Internet and YouTube are so important if you want to build some type of fan base from the very beginning which makes it that much more rewarding,” said Daniels in a interview at the end of the red carpet.

What people now are starting to learn is that anyone can get exposure through this media outlet, and possibly get their chance at fame, said Canadian content creator Nadine Sykora.

“I think it’s cool to see people’s reactions to YouTube videos on a big screen. It’s something you don’t see because you usually watch it from your laptop.  They also should get rid of this red carpet because I feel like we are no different from the fans. Anyone can do what we do if they put their mind to it,” said Sykora.


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