Kuma Films has been blowing people’s minds since 2012 with high-energy and stylish videos featuring some of the most creative tricks and stunts around the world. From seemingly impossible parkour tricks to spinning pens, they highlight the awesome things people can do when they put their minds to it.
Today, Jeremy talks to Joe and Todd from Kuma about how they got started and what it takes to grow from nothing to almost 100 million views in 5 years.
Enjoy, and please share if you find this episode valuable!
Jeremy Vest: Hey everyone this is Jeremy Vest with TubeTalk. Today I have some really awesome guests from Kuma Films, which is actually one of my favorite YouTube channels. What’s up Todd and Joe?
Todd: Doing good, man. How are you?
Jeremy Vest: Doing well. So explain to our audience what you guys do.
Todd: My brother, Joe, and I we’re travel film makers and YouTubers. We just travel around the world finding people with unique or different hobbies and talents, and create cinematic short films around these people that we meet. It’s kind of a niche we’ve fallen into. First it’s like action sports and just kind of Red Bull kind of stuff, but this is kind of the niche that we’ve kind of created for ourselves. Yeah.
Jeremy Vest: What I really like about the content they do is they do a lot of really high end, cool stuff. Slo-mo type stuff. But what’s interesting about it is they do weird stuff no one else is covering, like people spinning pens or whatever the little wooden thing is with the stick. I don’t know what it’s called. They do really interesting, bizarre stuff, and it’s really amazing how talented everyone is that they film. So they’ve really have a cool niche and honestly, it’s one of my favorite YouTube channels. So guys, as YouTube creators, what’s the hardest thing you face on a weekly basis?
Todd: I would say for us, right now, especially with the algorithm, trying to … because everything we film kind of … doesn’t rely on other people but … where we live in Utah, most people do traditional sports like basketball and football and stuff like that. So there’s less of that kind of unique or interesting, weird, I guess. I don’t want to say what they do is weird, but you know what I mean.
Todd: Yeah. More unique type things. So we rely on having to travel out a lot, or drive. We go to L.A. and Vegas quite a bit, because there’s lots of that kind of stuff there. So, that’s kind of the hard part for us is to get consistent content, you know, where … without … I guess on a regular basis. That’s kind of where we’re struggling with, to get weekly or more than once a week. It just takes a lot of time to film and edit these things.
Joe: I think probably the travel. Hard to get out to everyone that we want to film, so that’s the hardest part.
Jeremy Vest: Yeah, and you guys travel all over the world, right? So what are some of the places you guys go to?
Todd: When we first started, we were in Taiwan so we bounced around Asia a lot. Japan, Singapore, you know, a lot of those areas, but now we’re doing a lot of stuff stateside. We’ve been out to the U.K. to do some stuff, and …
Todd: … Canada. We’re doing a lot of stuff stateside now as well, now that we’re back home in Utah.
Jeremy Vest: Awesome. So how many views and subscribers do you guys have now? On YouTube?
Joe: We have 570,000 subs.
Todd: 95, 96 million views. Almost a hundred million.
Jeremy Vest: You guys are kind of a big deal now. That’s awesome, man. I know when I first met you guys a few years ago, you were about a quarter of that size. And I knew with the content I had no doubt you guys are going to get to a million subs and you guys are going to kill it. And you are.
Todd: Thank you. Yeah. It’s-
Jeremy Vest: It’s awesome. It’s really cool.
Todd: It was always a matter of … we always thought, “Oh it would be cool if that happens.” But now it’s to a point where it’s more of a matter of when than if. Which gives us a lot of pride to keep-
Jeremy Vest: Yeah. So with a channel your size, a lot of people think you just literally rolling with money every day and you just put your Benjamins on your bed. But I know, obviously, from working with a lot of channels of your size, I know that it still can be a struggle to get brand deals. It can be a struggle to do everything you want to do. To buy expensive camera gear, to fly to other countries to film. So what keeps you guys grounded and how are you able to sustain while you’re still growing?
Joe: Luckily I guess we’re teaching before so we were able to save money while we were living in Taiwan. But now it’s just, I don’t know, side gigs.
Todd: We do free … yeah. We still … YouTube’s not 100 percent our full-time gig yet. And a lot of the ways we actually subsidize our filming costs is when we have freelance jobs that take us to other countries. We’ll just negotiate with them letting us stay out an extra week, or what not. Or get there early so we can kind of do our own projects. We’ll schedule out basically a video every day if we need to, and we’ll just grind it out while we’re doing these other jobs that kind of pay the bills and help us fund YouTube.
But then if there’s, like you were saying, brand deals and stuff like that, our … for us right now, we’ve done a few and some pretty big ones that we’d been pretty happy with. But, no, they’re still a few and far between. A lot of it still relies on these freelance jobs, or other ways of monetizing, or selling stuff. Like shirts or different merchandise.
Joe: A lot of outlet.
Todd: Yeah. Lots of … yeah. Different outlets, like Joe said.
Jeremy Vest: Yeah, that kind of blows my mind.
Todd: We sell a lot of them.
Jeremy Vest: It blows my mind with that many, almost a hundred million views and half a million subs, that you guys are still working to become full-time. That’s just … I think a lot of people don’t realize how hard you have to hustle to keep on making it and getting bigger.
What are the next steps for you-
Todd: There’s different things we could do better. I think, that would … that other channels have done better to kind of make it so they can go full-time. And that’s just what we’re trying to figure out at the moment as well. Just, what else can we be doing to grow faster or to make this a full-time gig.
Jeremy Vest: So what are the next steps for you guys? What are you planning on … what’s the next year look like for you guys?
Todd: We want to do a lot more collaborations. Like other channels. Exploring … We’ve been talking a lot about other formats of video that we can do that would maybe help us get more content out more regularly as well as get … cater to the YouTube algorithm a little bit so we can be in good graces with them so they’re recommending our stuff more often.
Jeremy Vest: That’s awesome. And what is the best thing that’s helped your channel grow? Do you think it’s just the fact that you guys have awesome content no one else is filming? Or do you think there’s something you’ve done to be able to grow fast?
Todd: That helps, I think, for sure, having interesting content that no one else is really doing. But…
Joe: A while ago, when blogs would post your videos, it was easier to get more views that way, and grow. But that slowed down since we … I think that took off a while ago.
Todd: Yeah. When we first started, it was like, we had filmed … when we’d release a video, we would spend the whole day just sharing our videos with any blog or website we felt would share it or that is relevant. I think that was a big part of the growth as well. Because back in, about what? A year ago? Two years ago, if you were shared on 9GAG or Reddit, or … I mean, Reddit still helps a ton, but you know, [Wimp 00:08:14] or a lot of these bigger video websites, that would substantially give you tons of traffic. And it slowed down a little bit here, over the last year or two, but we still do it. It’s still important. But I think just having interesting content that your viewers like keeps them engaged and wanting to come back and see more, I think that’s more important than anyone sharing it or what not.
Jeremy Vest: That’s awesome. And how can people find you guys?
Todd: You can find us at … oh, if you type in Kuma Films on YouTube, our stuff will pop up. And on Facebook and Instagram as well. Those are kind of the platforms that we’re focusing more on right now.