The story of Andyax
“It surely was something about Eskild walking around with an invisible gun. People loved it!“
I’m Anders Øvergaard, a 31 years old filmmaker from Norway. After borrowing my fathers Hi8 camera, I knew filmmaking was my thing in life. And after getting a couple of small film jobs, I founded my freelance company Andyax Productions, at the age of 16. I was already then running a company called Walkam, where I made and sold handheld steadycams with my friend. We sold 70 of them from my parents garage before closing down the business as I attended film school in 2008.
Between these years, 2006 and 2009, I had discovered YouTube. It was the first place we could easily share videos I made from my steadycam company, from film school and other projects I did. The first videos was meant to be shared with friends only, but as the videos were public, random people suddenly started commenting the videos and asking about the equipment I used. I had never experienced anything like that. How could foreign people like videos from a Norwegian guy, speaking Norwegian? Then in 2008, after getting the Canon XH A1 camera I decided to make a test video for the foreign audience, together with my new friend Eskild Fors. I asked him to do something outside, in my parents garden, so I could film him. Never did we know that his intuitive acting skills combined with me filming, was the beginning of something big. It surely was something about Eskild walking around with an invisible gun. People loved it!
This video made the channel grow (who knows why?):
Learning by doing
As people started asking questions about the camera and equipment we used, I had to make videos about it, in English! English wasn’t my favourite topic at school, and you could truly hear that in the videos. But I didn’t want that be a stopper, it was actually fun to talk about the equipment and it was fun to talk NorEnglish. In addition, making videos and getting feedback was a way to learn new stuff, to become a better film- and video maker. Just have a look at the first equipment video from 2009 and a video from 10 years later:
100 000 views! Are you serious!?
The year after the first (horrible) equipment video, things started to get serious. I had just switched from Canon XH A1 to the incredible (at that time) Canon 550D/t2i. We could actually shoot video on an affordable DSLR and achieve shallow depth of field! The Canon 5D mark ii had revolutionised how independent filmmakers could make films, and the Canon 550D was an inexpensive alternative. I had previously used a 35mm adapter for my XH A1 to get the shallow depth of field, but it was heavy, expensive and not very sharp. The Canon 550D was a dream camera, especially with fast lenses such as the Canon 50mm f.1.4. Our previous successful test film was with the XH A1 camera and Eskild with an invisible gun. Now it was my sisters turn. She had been eagerly wanting to join a video, so I let her try. If it was because of her or because of the camera, I’m not sure, but the video ended up becoming the biggest growth of the channel so far, with over 357 000 views in just one year.
Canon 550D test – 2010
Canon 550D review – 2010
The place to share short films
It had always been difficult to share and screen short films in Norway. First of all, shorts didn’t generate any income, unless you had received film funds from the government. So either you had to rely on funds, or you had to make your own budget (which you wouldn’t get back). And if you happened to finally make a short film, you had to be accepted to film festivals to be able to screen your film publicly. And even being accepted to film festivals didn’t mean that a lot of people would see it.
Luckily YouTube was invented and gave filmmakers from all around the globe the possibility to share their shorts to a worldwide audience, for free! As I was in love with filmmaking and especially making narrative short films, this was ideal for me. During film school I got the chance to show what I was capable of. I wrote, directed and edited two graduations shorts films. As film festivals rarely accept films that have been released online already, I tried to submit to film festivals first. My Sci-Fi movie “Kontakt” (“Contact”) was accepted by three film festivals, and it won the Best Student Sci-Fi Short at The International Horror and Sci-Fi festival in Phoenix, USA. The film got probably a few hundred views on these festivals. Some years later it got over 150 000 views, after uploading it to YouTube..
Kontakt (Sci-fi short) – 2011
DSLR Actionfilm – 2010
What made our channel stand out
Again, we should go back to the first ever test video we did, with Eskild walking around with an invisible gun. Using the equipment and showing tests was something the audience wanted. And why not just make a little short film when you first make a test? When getting our first sponsors like Aputure and iFootage, we knew that we had to show the products in use, to keep the credibility alive. To just talk about a product you like, doesn’t impress the audience. Luckily it was not hard to make test films with my good friend Eskild as we both loved to improvise. Improvisation and some experience with filmmaking was a good combination, resulting in reviews and test films that got a lot of fans. A test film that ended up becoming much more than a test, was a video we did in 2011 to test the Canon 550D again. It was again Eskild running around with guns, improvising, but this time he used real sticks. We called it The Guy With The Invisible Gun 4. Some said it was the best film they had seen since Rambo. Another test film that got a lot of attention was yet another Canon 550D video. It was called Location Scout. They have today over 445 000 views in total and has become one of the most iconic videos (or should we say films?) from the Andyax channel.
Location Scout – 2010
The guy with the invisible gun 4 – 2011
YouTube: A platform to experiment
Nothing is better then to make exactly the project you want to make, and then share your masterpiece with everyone. Between the year 2011 and 2019 we tested out different intuitive and fun concepts for our filmmaking channel. We also looked at new ways to interact with the audience, real life workshops, including more people, crowdfundings and much more. Here are some of the highlights:
A different video for the time being
A music video shot entirely on a phone, which was quite unique in 2012. It resulted in our first ever sponsor; Nokia.
A YouTube channel with it’s own composer
Thomas Leypoldt contacted me in 2013. He had seen my homepage and YouTube channel and wanted to contribute with his music composing skills. I quickly understood that Thomas had the passion and interest to join the Andyax channel. And when he made the famous “The Andyax Soundtrack” there was no going back. Thomas was then a part of Andyax, and still is. Thomas also writes about music production on his website.
The perfect recipe for a review
“Good & Affordable Steadicam” was our first video to hit 2 million views. Again, using narrative test films to showcase a product was a hit.
A crowdfunded short film
Have you ever heard of a Sci-Fi film about cameras that captures peoples souls? Then it’s most likely “The Camera Hack”. This was the first time we tried crowdfunding, and it was a success! 259 backers made it possible to make a 40min long Sci-Fi short in addition to a two hour long behind the scenes series about the production. The Ministry of Culture in Norway even had to come to the premiere we arranged at a local cinema, since they hadn’t heard about any Norwegian short film being funded like this before.
The ultimate guide to affordable film making
“Filmmaking on a budget” is the video I’m the most proud of. It’s 42 minutes long, includes a bunch of filmmaking tips and tricks, and it’s free to watch! We basically just wanted to make the most in depth video about affordable film gear how to use them to make a short film. It was different as it wasn’t just about one specific equipment or one specific aspect of a film production, like earlier. It was about the whole process of creating a short film. I still don’t know how we managed to make this video and put it out there for free. But I’m very glad we did.
Involving the followers
Even though our YouTube channel got in average 400 000 views a month in 2016, the income was far from enough to be able to YouTubing (is that even a word?) full time. In addition, we had projects besides YouTube, running our own freelance companies and I even became a father. As we understood that people would love to see more than just one video a month, we created a Patreon page to give people the opportunity to contribute money in return of more content and exclusive perks.
A creative music show teaching film composing
Thomas is still nagging at me that we have to finish this series. “Wheel We Score It?” was a quite unique series. It was about composing music for our follower’s short films. It was to put light on creative challenges, affordable composing and including the followers in a new way. Unfortunately the series didn’t get as much attention as we hoped for, so we only released two episodes. However, those who saw it loved it! So we are hoping to continue it one lovely day.
Football World Cup + Eurovision Song Contest + creative film making
Thomas and Anders loves Football World Cut and creative film making. In addition Anders really like Eurovision Song Contest. So what happens when we mix all these together? Well, you get Filmmakers World Cup! 2017-2018 was the year we wanted to include our audience even more. For this series, we gave the audience creative film challenges every month. The top three films for every round got feedback from us (Anders, Thomas and Nikoline) as animated characters. The contest was open for everyone. Amato Ramadi from Indonesia won the first season of Filmmakers World Cup. See the final here:
The journey of making a film company
In 2017, I (Anders), Thomas, Morten and several of the people involved in Andyax, decided to make a film company called VJUS. Our goal was to have more fun making films by sharing responsibility and cheer each other up. Starting a film company with friends is a roller coaster ride and we wanted to show that in a weekly series called “Making a Film Company”. A weekly series has never been made on the Andyax channel before, so this was the most ambitious series on the Andyax channel so far. The first episode was released November 22nd and will most likely continue for at least 9 more episodes.
The loss of our good friend Eskild
Our good friend and colleague Eskild Fors devastatingly passed away May 2017. After his passing, we were unsure what to do with the YouTube channel, as he had been a huge part of it. But then, an overwhelming response of condolences from our followers got us thinking: What we had created was more than just entertainment and learning for people; It filled people’s life with joy, inspiration and even dreams. It truly made us re-evaluate the future of the channel. We simply couldn’t stop now. We had to continue, and we knew that is what Eskild would have wanted as well. Love you Eskild.
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