Before Andrew Siwicki began filming for YouTube star Shane Dawson, he was watching YouTube like it was TV, longing to be a creator.
“I always liked the idea of making movies and I thought that would be so cool,” Siwicki told Business Insider.
Siwicki, 27, was first introduced to the world of YouTube through creators like “GiR2007 ” (a creator who was once popular online for his stop-motion videos). Siwicki said he reached out to GiR2007 over YouTube’s direct messaging feature (which no longer exists), looking for advice on how to get started.
“This guy was like a celebrity to me,” Siwicki said. “I was like, ‘hey man, I just want to say I really like your videos,’ and for some reason he responded and had a dialogue with me, which today is like someone messaging Emma Chamberlain.”
With GiR2007’s advice, Siwicki started a YouTube channel, then switched to creating music, and then filming short-form videos for Vine (which eventually shut down in 2016).
Once Siwicki got to college, he thought he would graduate and maybe become a talent agent (he even interned at one of the top agencies, WME).
Yet nothing seemed to stick – until 2017, when he met Dawson and became a YouTube video editor full time.
The path to becoming a full-time video editor for YouTube
Siwicki grew up in Illinois and during his sophomore year of college, he reconnected with his childhood friend Ricky Montgomery, who at the time was popular on Vine. Montgomery (now a music artist) convinced Siwicki to move out to LA in 2016, and help him out with Vine and YouTube.
“At the time everybody lived in this apartment complex,” Siwicki said, and that’s where he eventually met Vine stars (now YouTube creators) Garrett Watts, Erin Gilfoy, and Carly Incontro (Erin and Carly). “They started making YouTube channels and people were guessing what to do on YouTube. I started filming Ricky on his iPhone and started editing them on my laptop.”
Although Siwicki got his degree in psychology, today (in his current career as Dawson’s video editor) he mostly applies the video editing skills he learned from helping his friend Montgomery and other creators like Anthony Padilla (the former SMOSH member who Siwicki helped edit videos for after Padilla launched his standalone channel).
“I went to school because I thought I had to,” Siwicki said. “To be in LA, and to be successful, I thought I needed a degree.”
‘I don’t need to be in front of the camera, but I still want to be involved’
In 2017, Dawson (a popular YouTube creator with 23 million subscribers, known for his “docuseries”) was looking for a video editor to join his YouTube team. Siwicki and Dawson shared a mutual friend (Watts) who recommended Siwicki, and before he knew it, Siwicki said he was handed some memory cards of footage and tasked with the job of editing together a video for Dawson.
“I knew Shane’s whole vibe and that it would be a really cool, fun environment to be a part of,” he said.
After editing a few videos from his apartment, Siwicki said Dawson asked him if he could come by and help film.
“I was super nervous, because I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to filming videos,” he said. “I remember there’s a line in the video where Shane goes, ‘I love our Jake Paul vibe with our camera man.’ I guess he never really thought about having a camera person, but he liked the way it looked and it allowed him to think of bigger video concepts, without having to limit himself to a tripod and space around him.”
Shortly after, Siwicki became Dawson’s full-time camera guy and video editor, following him along to film videos like “The truth about TanaCon” (22.9 million views), “The Mind of Jake Paul,” (26 million views), “Conspiracy Theories with Shane Dawson” (43 million views), and “The secret world of Jeffree Star” (46.5 million views).
Dawson even dedicated a video to Siwicki titled, “Exposing my secret cameraman” (11 million views), in which Dawson said he’d been feeling stuck creatively “and then I met my cameraman.”
Dawson said Siwicki took clips of his videos and turned them into something bigger, inspiring him to work on larger projects and more documentary-like series for YouTube.
—Andrew Siwicki (@AndrewSiwicki) November 24, 2019
What it’s like to film a 7-part series with Shane Dawson
In late 2017, Dawson and Siwicki began splitting up the editing duties. Some days they’ll edit together, or divide the footage among themselves, Siwicki said.
“Shane is literally one of the best editors in the world,” Siwicki said. “I wouldn’t even question it because the stuff that we are editing is real time, on the fly. It’s different than editing a movie because that has a script. With this, it’s important to see the big picture and be a creative storyteller. It’s all real footage, nothing is really planned out.”
Their most notable series is Dawson’s recent dive into the world of makeup mogul Jeffree Star. The first episode of the 7-part series, titled “The beautiful world of Jeffree Star,” gained 25.7 million views and was filmed over nine months.
Siwicki said it’s impossible to describe the average filming day because each day is completely different. Typically, they’ll come up with a game plan and figure out how to split up the work between themselves.
“We don’t have a producer telling us what to do each day,” he said. “We’ll live in the video for days, weeks and just become really acquainted with the video’s strong points, what we need to work on and we keep working on it until we are so excited about it.”
Siwicki said between coming up with ideas, planning, producing videos, and cutting down footage, they are always together and always working on something.
Dawson’s latest series with Star was a game changer for the group. Between video views in the high millions and selling out a makeup collection in minutes (released in collaboration with Star’s makeup line, Jeffree Star cosmetics) the series attracted the attention of people beyond YouTube’s community.
And Siwicki feels like his star has risen as Dawson’s has, he said.
“Shane has given me so much credit,” Siwicki said. “It’s really hard to come by somebody who gives people who are behind the scenes a lot of credit. From Twitter posts, to tagging me in stuff, to bringing me on stage during the Shorty Awards, Shane always makes it a point to show that I’m the person he’s making videos with.”
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