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Zach King: The storyteller in all of us | TEDxPortland

Zach King: The storyteller in all of us | TEDxPortland


Translator: Queenie Lee
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven It was six years ago
that I was just leaving Portland. I had been born and raised here, and I was taking off
to LA to go live there. It was scary to be a young kid –
just graduated from high school – planning on taking over the film world, and I was just planning on going out to be a film student
in Los Angeles at that time. If you were to come up and ask me, “What are you going to do
when you graduate film school?” I’d have, of course, said,
“Well, I’m going to be in Hollywood, making feature films for the big screen,
and my name up in lights, and working alongside
my favorite director, Spielberg, here. (Laughter) Of course, that was going to happen. But actually, fast-forward to today, and I’m actually making short videos
out of my garage for this – the small screen and the internet. And this is one of the tools
that has changed my life, among a couple of others. What actually happened was I didn’t
get into film school like I expected. I ended up having a year at university
while I was waiting to reapply, and I was kind of bummed out like, “OK, man, I thought my calling
was to be a filmmaker and direct with Spielberg.” So I fell in love with something
during that time, and it wasn’t a girl. I fell in love with the internet
and digital technology because at the time, I realized both of these were really
converging in a really cool way. The internet has poise itself, especially, websites like YouTube
were just coming out, Vimeo. You could post your work online
and start building a following. And then on the other side,
you had digital technology taking off. Cameras were getting cheaper,
they were getting better quality, and again, they were only
costing a couple of thousand dollars. So I took a camera, and I started filming my own videos
while I wasn’t in film school. I didn’t have film homework, so I did that and I posted online,
and began building this following. And it started changing my life. Because then I’d go to film school, and I eventually been talking
to classmates, my teachers, like, “How do you get into the film industry?
How do you get into Hollywood?” because I still want to direct. And they would tell me this,
“OK. Well, here’s how it works: you go into Hollywood,
work for ten years up the ladder doing nothing you really like to do. You’re being assistant to somebody,
and doing this dirty job here, and then you finally get to a place
where you can pitch your movie. Because what all directors want is
this chance to be in front of executives and pitch their story. So if you get that chance, and let’s say the Hollywood
system buys it, the studio pays for you to go off
for a couple years and make that movie, then you come back,
and you have a theatrical release, and two things could either happen. One, it does awful and you skip town
and never direct something again, or it does well, and that’s the moment
you get to start building your following. But I’m stepping back as a student
still in film school going, “Well, that doesn’t make sense to me
because that system’s got to be broken.” I’m already building my following online, and I had friends
that were doing this online, building successful YouTube channels
and other networks online. So that didn’t make sense,
to wait 12 – 15 years before I could really start my career, and even in between – It didn’t sound like
I’d be doing something that I loved. So it was this tool
that started to change my life. It was other tools like the cameras
that started to change my life. How many of you have one of these? Oh, that’s a shocker. OK. (Laughter) So what I want you to do, go ahead and get them
out of your pockets, OK? I’m giving you permission
because half of you are already on them. (Laughter) I see you tweeting over there,
and taking a picture over here. But actually, it’s crazy. Most of you will check this twice
during the course of my 15-minute talk. Most of us check our phones
ten times an hour and that equals 150 times a day. And for me, probably
all of you in this room, we check it like 300 times a day. Actually, here’s what I want you to do, by answering this question,
by raising your phone in the air. Did you check your phone after being awake
for 15 minutes this morning? Eighty percent of you. OK. Here’s what I won’t make you answer. When you go to lunch after this,
and you go to the bathroom, seventy five percent of you
will take your phone with you. (Laughter) So, yeah, you’re raising your hand,
your phone there. But what I’m saying is, we live in an age
where technology is one of our tools. The internet is one of my tools,
and we only need just this. You know, I was flying
up to Portland from LA yesterday, I was thinking on the plane right here, “If you were a writer,
back in the day, in the 14th century, before the printing press
was invented by Gutenberg, were you just writing your book,
finish it, put it on the shelf, just sit back, and wonder, ‘I hope someone makes a machine
that can publish this someday?'” (Laughter) Because I don’t know
how they’re expecting people to reach the world,
to get their books out there, but we don’t have that problem anymore,
we have the technology. Literally, if you’re a writer in here,
you can go on your phone, and you can publish a blog and post it,
and people can read it everywhere. It’s, like, not one of our problems. So I’m saying you only need a few tools
to connect the world over here. I brought my two tools.
I use the computer and my camera. So over here, I’ve got in my backpack,
I call this my traveling office because when I leave LA –
I work in LA with the garage – this is my computer, I do my editing here. I do all the importing
and the magic of posting online, and then you’ve got my camera, and this is only
a couple of thousand dollars. I’m not going to nerd out
about what’s so cool about this; you’ve got an interchangeable lens
and all this DSLR technology, but what’s amazing is this’s only
a couple of thousand dollars, whereas the buy-in ticket
to make a Hollywood movie just a couple years ago, you had to have a hundred thousand dollars
just to buy a camera or rent camera, and then you had to process on film. You guys, if you’re not into film,
maybe you don’t care, but this is incredible technology, and this is my tool
on how I’m reaching the world. So I made a video a while ago (Laughter) called Jedi Kittens. (Laughter) And that was just the response
it got when it went online. It was crazy. So I was really into Star Wars, and I thought it’d be fun to make
a movie just like Lucas had made, and maybe just make a scene a bit. But the problem is
you’re a college student. You’re living off, like, noodles, and you don’t have millions of dollars
in your back pocket. So I took some cardboard,
hot glue, spray paint and cast some adorable kittens,
and this is what I came up with. (Video starts) (Laughter) (Applause) So what I’m really to tell you today is
that when you take Star Wars and kittens you can make a successful video. Thank you very much. (Applause) (Laughter) No, I’m kidding. Jedi Kittens was a great video for us which really got our channel kick-started. We started growing a really big audience. I think to this day,
it has like over 10 million views. But it was crazy because it’s really
what the modern filmmaker can do. We made this in one night. I was in film school. So we had our classes during the day,
and starting around 9 o’clock at night. I said to my best friend, “Hey, you want to make a movie
Jedi Kittens like Star Wars?” He said, “Of course.” So we go off and we make this movie from 9:00 at night, we film until midnight. And we’ve got all the footage
on our computer here, and we’re just sitting
side-by-side editing, till 8 in the morning. That’s how we did
all our film shoots during school. We did it at night, and then posted it
at eight in the morning. At the same time
while that was happening – this is, by the way, what you have to do to compose a score
with a 40-50 piece orchestra. The same time though, in Atlanta, Georgia, my composer, Andrew, was writing the score
to the movie as we were making it. So by 8 AM after I’d give him
the rough cut around midnight, he’s doing an all-nighter down there,
sending me the music, and we posted it. Like that the whole process is complete. And I also have a sound guy that I
work with, out of Wheaton, Illinois, and I was sending him
the sound effect like: design what I thought it should be like,
and what he should do. So all of us are collaborating
over the internet. We’re not even sitting
next to each other. Making a movie that ends up
a getting couple of million dollars, and we didn’t have a million
dollars to make it, I think we had just cardboard
and hoglet, whatever that cost, that was my cost for making this movie. So it’s because of technology
that’s changing all of our industries that we’re having so much power
in just the tools, and letting our ideas
go out there and be effective. What I love is it’s not just filmmaking; it’s music; it’s art; it’s journalism;
it’s so many different mediums. So I took a road trip last summer,
me and my two best friends, we hop in a tiny little Prius – and we found out it was a tiny Prius
because we went around 10,000 miles – we’d go to 50 different cities in 40 days, and what we were finding was incredible. We were finding that kids were coming up to show us their work,
we were meeting with fans. And they were showing us their work,
and we were blown away. Because these are
10-, 11-, 12-years-olds doing … you just saw they were making
like Jedi Kittens on their own, and they’re 10 years old. My mind was blown because it was literally the power of these tools
that these kids had access to now, which a couple years ago,
I believe these don’t exist. So these tools are allowing our kids to create far before what we
were ever thinking we could do. And I feel like, I don’t know if I’m going
to have a job someday because these kids
are the new generation of film makers. And if you look at all the spaces
that are changing, you’re going to have a new
generation of writers, songwriters, and composers, and artists
and graphic designers – all because of the power
of our technology. What I love too is I have a friend in LA – How many of you have heard of this video? (Applause) Yes, it’s a very popular video,
and it took off about a month ago, and it was called First Kiss. And basically the concept was we took 20 different people
who had never met, and they kissed for the first time. And what took off was 50 million views
of that video in the first week. It’s got over almost
80 million now I believe, and it was just a 1,300 dollar budget. That is insane. Because you have the advertising world – there’s Wieden+Kennedy people here,
and I’m probably going to stir the pot – but you’ve got ad agencies
spending millions of dollars, and I know because I work
with these ad agencies now, I work with brands directly, I know how much they spend –
spending ridiculous amounts of money, creating something
that doesn’t even get that much buzz, which they just trash, throw away,
and never even publish. But here’s a girl, Tatia, my friend,
made this video for 1,300 dollars, and she posted and gets 80 million views. That is insane. I think that shows the power that’s going
to be in individual creators now, that you don’t have
to be an agency to create, you don’t have to have millions of dollars
to make your Hollywood movie. You have the power in the tools
in the digital technology right in your pockets right now. So, if I were to encourage you something,
here’s what I would say. You guys have so many great tools here, so create well. You have so many tools right here
on your computer, software, designing. Someone was talking earlier about
how it’s just his finger and his mouse, moving and creating these awesome logos. But you know what?
These tools are going to fade away. And I was wondering this. If Beethoven and Mozart were in this era,
what would they have composed? How would they have composed it? Would they have used
a MIDI technology and little synths? What would Beethoven’s score
sound like now? Or what would a writer be doing now? Or would DaVinci be the next
Steve Jobs of our era if he had our technology
at his fingertips? I don’t know what they would have done, but I do know this: we’re all placed
in our different time in history, and we all have a really cool power
to create something. Actually, I want to create something
right now with you guys – a vine video? Audience: Yes. ZK: OK. I think it’d be really cool
to get you in a vine video. My parents are here,
so I have to explain: a vine video … (Laughter) A Vine video is where you
create something in six seconds, and, literally, that’s all you have. It posts onto your channel
where people can follow you, and if you don’t mind,
a million people are going to see you. But I’ll come down,
we will get the house lights on, and I’ll create a video with you. Here’s how it works. I push with my thumb
a little record button, and I’m going to record the first half
down here in the audience with you. The idea is I’m going to
teleport on to the stage. Is that cool enough for you guys? So what I’m going to do,
I don’t need you guys yet. You just sit still,
and look pretty like you are. I’m going to say, “Hey,
I’m here at TEDxPortland, I’m going to teleport to the stage.” OK, it looks stupid. But wait until I get up there. (Laughter) You know, half the time I’m filming these, my roommates, the housemates
think I am a freak. But OK. So here’s where I need you guys, really. When I record the last half, I’m going to teleport
onto the stage in the video, I want you guys to erupt. You need to stand up, clap and cheer because a lot of people
are going to see this, OK? Are you guys ready? Audience: Yeah. Put your phones down now so you can do this. Here we go. Right when I land, you guys erupt. (Cheers) (Applause) (Laughter) Great. I love the energy.
That was awesome. When I sit down, I’ll post this. It’ll go live to 1.1 million people. So if you don’t mind,
just … you’re all in it. You look great. Thank you very much. (Applause) (Cheering) I’ll show you where you can watch
that video when I post that. But what I want to leave you with is this: we have so much technology,
again, in our pockets. We have the power for all your different spaces
that are changing. If you’re a writer, a music composer, and what I want you guys to do
is realize that these are just tools. In a couple years, there’ll be a new one of these,
or probably in six months. And in a couple years,
there’ll be a new camera, a new computer. Maybe someday
we’ll be answering phones like: “Hello. What’s up?” I don’t know what
technology will look like, but this is just a tool. It’s what’s in here that matters: your ideas and your thoughts
are what can inspire people. So take the tools, take your ideas, and create something
that will inspire the world. (Applause) (Cheering)

100 thoughts on “Zach King: The storyteller in all of us | TEDxPortland”

  1. When he drop his phone its like "Hmm. What..?" and when he pick up his phone its like "ok.. i understand" if you know what i mean

  2. Meanwhile i'm creating a big fantastic story
    But nobody's here to read even the bits and pieces that seep from it

  3. Everybody says he said "It's in what here…that matters" but I understand "It's in, right here that matters"

  4. hes clips are really anooying and boring… i just cant watch them anymore
    the fake in hes videos has no meaning what so ever..
    he has talent but he use it only to show what he can do instead of giving it a meaning.
    which makes it even more fake
    hes a nice guy and all but thats where it ends

  5. This was so great , zach king was on TedX sharing how powerful our technology nowadays connected with the art of filmMaking, song composing etcc… this is so great! THE POWER OF TECHNOLOGY! Iloveit ✊❤️

  6. Good talk, but I was hoping to learn how to tell a story instead of stumbling over my words and sounding like a coke-head.

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