Interview with Szirmai Gergely

Szirmai Gergő is one of the most popular Hungarian YouTubers with almost 247 thousand followers. He has two vlogs, Hollywood News Agency and GameDay Office. I have met him in a café for a short interview about vlogging and his future plans.

Let’s start with the basics… How did you start Hollywood News Agency?
Well, it is a really interesting story (laughs). I was living in a small village in Illinois, near Chicago, where I attended the local university. I wasn’t enrolled, so we can say illegally. I have been keen on YouTube videos already and I had to find a way to practice the audio engineering, Photoshop and things like that so I came up with the idea of a video blog. In the U.S. I could watch the new movies before my friends in Hungary, so I started to send animated videos back home, that was the start of the Hollywood News Agency. After I came home and got admitted to the Film Academy, my teachers encouraged me to continue it, but this time in live to practice speaking in front of the camera. This is how I started the vlog.

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Photo: YouTube

Do you watch foreign vlogs? What kind of vlogs these are?

Yes, we can say that this is kind of my speciality, so I have to follow the American tendencies, new waves in the vlog sphere and keep myself up-to-date with these trends. I usually watch vlogs about everything from games and music to books, and of course movies. These are the main topics I am interested about.

What are the main differences between the Hungarian and the American YouTube sphere?

American vloggers are very professionals, while in Hungary this is still new. We have to improve both in working together as a community, and well, in the quality of our products. I try to make as good videos as it is possible, but it still would be unbearable for the American viewers or at least my videos wouldn’t get to their standards.

You have made an English video a year ago. Was it just a one-time thing or did you plan to continue it with other English videos? I know that many viewers didn’t like it.

Yes, there were viewers who didn’t like it. It was just a one-time thing because unfortunately most of the Hungarians are not really good in English. This can make them to be hostile to everything associated with other languages, such as subtitled copies or this English video. Some people were afraid that I will continue to make English videos. Most of the viewers are saying the same thing: “Don’t make English videos because I don’t understand it.” I’m sure some people are just simply annoyed by it, and many of them just used to the Hungarian videos and they are not open to changes or attempts like this. There are people who actually liked it, so I think I will make other English videos, but it won’t be a regular thing.

Can you, or any other vlogger make a living of making videos?

Yes, of course.

Even in Hungary?

Yes, even in Hungary. Most of the people are surprised when I tell them because they don’t expect this answer, but yes, it is possible.

What do you think of women YouTubers? Do you think it is easier for women to get more views or followers than for men?

No, not at all. What’s more, luckily the internet filter out the incompetent vloggers. Of course, if I had big boobs as a woman, more people would click on the videos, but only those women can be constantly popular, who have a specific style, good humour or a talent. The most popular women vloggers, for example Lindsey Stirling or Jenna Marbles are pretty, of course, but they are also very talented and have a good humour too. It doesn’t really matter how you look like… there are a lot of girls on the internet, who are pretty, but not intelligent enough and watching them can be unbearable after a time. So no, I don’t think that it is easier for women to get followers.

Your next project is a travel vlog, am I right? Can you tell me a bit more about it?

I have been thinking about it for a long time and I am preparing it now. It will be my diploma project, in which I will try how I can produce entertaining travel videos to the internet at a small cost and not from million dollars for television. I’d like to look at how to make quality videos, which can be valuable for people who have never been to a place, or not even plan to go there.

Do you plan it as a long-time project? How would you make videos for all your vlogs if it works out?

We’ll see. I don’t think it can be a long-time project. I mean, it is harder to make money from this. While buying a cinema ticket is easy and cheap, travelling is very expensive. A travel vlogger would need more sponsor money… I don’t think that it can happen in Hungary, or at least not now. We’ll see. Hypothetically, if it would work, I think I have capacity to do two channels at the same time, so I suppose the GameDay, the game vlog would be effaced.

Photo: Hollywood Hírügynökség

Photo: Hollywood Hírügynökség

Have you ever had a situation when you postponed video-making?

Yes, of course. I think it happened twice. I postponed the video making to another day because I was unable to make it. Then, I realised that these came in really bad moments, found out what was the reason for it, and solved it. Basically, I really like making videos, it is fun. Luckily I have never had a family tragedy which kept me from vlogging for a long time. I can imagine that would affect me that much that I cannot produce videos for a longer term. Something that would take away my emotional and mental energies and I wouldn’t be able to make a video. But vlogging is entertaining, I always look forward to the next one.

Do you usually re-watch your videos?
No, never. I hate watching myself. When my flatmates watch my videos, I usually go out of the room because at the point when I finish my videos, I usually really bored with my face (laughs).

Do you have any videos that you don’t like, or would like to change?

No, I don’t hate them, and I would definitely not change anything, so the retrospective censorship is not a question too. I stand up for my videos. There are a few videos I can no more agree with though. For example my Star Wars videos… I was in a very bad mood when I made the first one, and I was very afraid when I made the third. I should have been wiser with the first one and crueller with the third one. Sometimes I don’t know what should I emphasize more and less in my videos and the tone of my videos can be too negative or too positive.

Do you feel any responsibility for your viewers? Do you think that your opinion can influence them?

It is a very interesting thing. The fact that I have so many viewers is unbelievable. I don’t think that there are people who can accept it as a natural thing in their lives. It is fantastic that a lot of people are interested in my videos, my opinion and what I do, and I really appreciate it, but I don’t feel it is natural. The responsibility, what people would like to make me feel towards my viewers always comes from the wrong direction. If they do not agree with what I say, they don’t like it. When I told in one of my videos that I won’t vote, I got several e-mails saying I have a responsibility towards my followers and I cannot encourage people to do things like that… They think I should encourage them to things they agree with.
But I think I only have one responsibility, to communicate my opinion in an honest and accurate way because with that I encourage people to have their own opinion, not just to recite my opinion. The message of the Hollywood News Agency always was – and always will be – that people have to have their own opinion, think critically and not just sitting in the cinema as passive viewers. I do take the responsibility for this.

Photo: debrecen.hu

Photo: debrecen.hu

I have one last question, a bit lighter topic… What is your funniest, weirdest or most frightening story with your fans?

They are usually really nice, ask for a picture, or an autograph and that’s all. Well… Once a guy appeared front of my door. He said he had seen in one of my videos what is outside the window and somehow figured out where I live. He brought me a present and he was very excited about the situation and he didn’t get it, why was I afraid and didn’t invite him inside. This is a really good example what I experience in mails and when people are coming to me – that people not really realise that I am totally normal. My job is not to pay attention to them and stay in my role as a vlogger all the time. Of course if I would meet with a YouTuber I really like, I would run to them, asking a photo, talking to them, before I even watch what the hell are they doing. Once I had a fight with my sister in a parking, and someone came to me and asked a picture because he didn’t realise, that I was having a fight… So these are the things which can be resulted in weird things with fans, when they don’t realise that I’m busy with another thing and don’t want to be bothered. But I haven’t got any really frightening story… OK, except that guy who appeared front of my door. That was frightening.

Photo: Hollywood Hírügynökség

Photo: Hollywood Hírügynökség

You can watch and subscribe to Hollywood News Agency on YouTube here:
Hollywood News Agency

by Fanni Kaszás

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