Meet Devin Graham, aka DevinSuperTramp
We’re so excited for you to meet Devin Graham and to learn from his Lemonade Stand Story! Listen below to learn about how he became one of the kings of YouTube while racking up billions of YouTube views along the way.
Who Is Devin Graham?
Devin Graham, aka DevinSuperTramp, is a true YouTube sensation and an incredible creator.
With more than five million subscribers on his channel and more than a billion views, Devin Graham is one of the most incredible YouTube success stories. Since starting his channel in 2010, Devin has created incredible stunt sports videos and worked with numerous big brands including Fox, Ford, Subaru and Disney. He has also set up some incredible, world-famous stunts, including “Slip and Slide off 500-Foot Cliff,” on his travels around the globe.
Devin originally grew up in Portland, Oregon, and was always interested in videography. By the time he reached his late teens, Devin was on his way to college at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah. This would eventually lead to him being able to travel the world while doing what he loves. However, the viral star claims that he has always been involved in creating videos since long before YouTube even existed.
When he was younger, Devin loved watching snowboarding videos and participating in the sport himself. He was also making incredible stop-motion videos with Legos and even music videos with his friends. Whenever he was able to borrow a video camera from his parents, Devin would take the opportunity to create something new.
Devin is fascinated by films and one of his reasons for heading to BYU was to make Hollywood films. He is inspired by creators including Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams.
Finding a Format
Before he had even left college, Devin was slowly introduced to the world of YouTube. Initially, Devin, like others, was not impressed with the new website. He saw it as a place where people could share their home videos. It was nothing like the global trillion-dollar network that it has evolved into today.
However, before long he was presented with an opportunity to work with Orabrush. They were excited to get their product marketed on the internet with a YouTube video. Ultimately, the video ended up receiving millions of views, which allowed the company to sell millions of products. Devin was immediately hooked by both the power and the potential of the network that was just starting to grow.
By 2009 Devin had started his own YouTube channel. During his later years at college, Devin spent a year in Hawaii. While shooting a documentary there, he found he had a lot of spare time and began capturing his adventures on film. He quickly began to garner millions of views, which allowed him to make some incredible connections around the world. Devin believes that his early success stems from creating quality content when YouTube was still mainly shaky-cam footage.
Once Devin started gaining millions of views on his videos he attracted corporate clients too. Though he was constantly met with skepticism due to his age and lack of qualifications, Devin quickly won over numerous companies due to the high level of quality that he ensured was apparent with all his projects. Every shoot led Devin to larger deals and bigger budgets until eventually he was making major sponsored action videos. Devin finds that he is constantly working to ensure that he is balancing product promotion with quality content.
He is also incredibly protective of his brand. Indeed, the creator has turned down working with numerous companies, including cigarette businesses, because they do not match the ideals of his business.
Over the years Devin has seen the budgets for his videos rise and the stunts become even more impressive. This was only possible due to the interest he gained from companies.
An Exciting Plan for the Future
TeamSuperTramp, Devin’s content company, is still on the rise. But now Devin is exploring how he can switch the narrative and get back to storytelling rather than product promotion. Devin has always been interested and intrigued by the idea of narrative storytelling and is excited to start pursuing this over the next few years. He is also interested in working with Netflix or a similar streaming giant.
In terms of the next major stunt or exciting video, Devin is constantly looking for ways to push the boundaries and excite his audience. He is even planning to complete a project where his fans will be coming with him for the ride. Indeed, his next trip will include fans being recorded taking part in some incredible stunts too.
Devin Graham Interview Transcript
Charan: All right, we are rolling. We’re rolling and I am with Devin Graham or DevinSuperTramp, as you may know him from the social media world.
Devin: Hey everyone.
Charan: Guys, I’m so excited, Devin, that you’ve agreed to just encourage this little video series and like—
Devin: It took a lot of convincing. It took a lot of convincing [inaudible 00:01:21].
Charan: A lot of convincing. I promised him a back massage, I promised him Indian food and all those things.
Devin: I would gladly take Indian food any day.
Charan: All right. The back massage not so much, but the Indian food, absolutely. But the interesting thing about Devin, you guys, you have to know, I’ve known Devin since 2008. We just discovered he has not aged a day. I don’t understand what the secret to never aging is. Maybe it’s just the backwards hat, but like he’s got [crosstalk 00:01:48]. It’s amazing. He looks like a young lad still.
Charan: But Devin, we met in 2008 because—we were just discussing—you were kind of helping oversee this commercial that I was producing. That was for the Utah Film Commission. It was, like, for this award show and you were helping oversee it. And so we got to be friends there. I forgot where you were living, like, some BYU housing or something or other.
Devin: Yeah, Windsor Park, if you want to be technical. I believe it was called Windsor Park. Right off of BYU campus. Me and Jacob Schwarz were roommates. I think he might’ve been working on that too. I can’t remember, but we all connected paths that way, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Charan: Dude, I know we have been. And it’s interesting because I just remember, like, you had such a cool energy about you. You were just like so fun and engaging and you’re like, “Dude, let’s do some cool stuff.” And I remember being like, “That’s the kind of guy I want to be like. That’s the kind of dude I’d want to work on a film with.” Just because it’s, like, so much fun. It’s not, like, overly serious and overly whatever. It’s just, like, we’re a group of friends, we’re getting together, we’re having some fun. And I remember, like, seeing some of your cinematography stuff. Because I think at the time you were, like, really focusing on cinematography.
Devin: Yeah. I can say my only focus was cinematography. Because didn’t really realize, like, I always wanted to make movies. And to me, I thought my talent was really only behind the camera, as far as just filming, cinematography wise. So my whole focus at BYU was all focused on cinematography, like, that was the track I was on.
Charan: That was the track you were on. Right. And I remember you did this one with this boy, in a spaceship or a wagon or something like that.
Devin: We did three commercials for BYU Independent Study, me and Jacob Schwarz. And then the one I directed was the one with the kid with balloons and he makes a car fly. We did it all practical, minus the car flying. But we put it on like a big crane and lifted up the car and everything. So yeah, it’s just a really cool experience. For us, it’s just been about [inaudible 00:03:36] always brainy, always running, always failing and just learning through that whole process.
Charan: Yeah. I know. It was great. I don’t know if this is still available, but one of the most intense openings of, like, of a movie I’ve ever seen is “Mission Impossible III.” And I remember you called me or you texted me, like, randomly. It was, like, the middle of the night. It was, like, “Hey, Charan, I need you to see something?” And you sent me this link and it was, like, a recreation of “Mission Impossible III.” It was Jerry, Aurora and I forgot the—
Devin: Andrew [inaudible 00:04:06].
Charan: That’s right.
Devin: He does Broadway in New York now.
Charan: That’s right. It’s amazing. Yeah. I remember hanging out with him a couple of times. And you guys did this re-creation, except it felt like a Western, I believe.
Devin: Yeah. It was for- it was called “319,” [inaudible 00:04:21] BYU. But the whole thing is, you take a script and you direct it and make it your own, like a Hollywood script. So for me, I picked “Mission Impossible III” and then I re-created setting it in a Western. I set it on, like, a train. We filmed it on the Heber Creeper as well, at Midway as well. But it was, like, I just wanted to kind of go all out on it online.
Charan: Dude. It was amazing. I remember just being, like, “Holy crap, is this better than the original? It might be better than the original.”
Devin: Tom Cruise, [inaudible 00:04:47].
Charan: It was awesome.
Devin: Thank you.
Charan: You do all these films, you are trying to go on that track. And then all of a sudden, I remember seeing, and I don’t know the sequence of things, but I remember seeing some nature video you shot, like, in Washington or Oregon or something like that.
Devin: One in Washington, one in Canada. It’s probably one of those two.
Charan: Okay. And I don’t know if that came first or if Orabrush came first. I don’t know which one. But you were doing something and you put it on YouTube and it got, like, a lot of views, I believe. Or back then it was, like, I don’t know, like, however many views it was.
Charan: And then you took a shift and then you did, like, a rope swing video, which also exploded, got like millions of views. And the next thing I know, it’s like, you became a legend. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, this is amazing.” Can you walk us through that journey a little bit about, like, what happened?
Devin: Yeah, absolutely. My whole focus was to make Hollywood movies. I wanted to make the next “Jurassic Park,” the next “Star Wars” movie. Like, that was the goal. That was why I was going to film school. While I was going to film school, my roommate—his name was Jeff Harmon, and you’ve also done a whole episode on him; we ended up not both talking about each other—
Devin: But for me, Jeff was like—he was doing marketing; like, I was just focused, it wasn’t film at all—and he was like, “YouTube is going to be the next big thing, Devin.” And like, “You need to get on that and you need get on that early.” And I’m like, “Uh, doesn’t really seem like a filmmaker should be on that type of platform. It’s not really high quality videos.” He’s like, “Just trust me on this.”
Devin: I don’t know if I fully trusted him yet, but we started working together with Orabrush. I started shooting all their videos and they started getting millions and millions of views. So then I was like, “There’s something here that I had no idea about realizing.” Jeff [inaudible 00:06:28] all the marketing. So I had seen how he was marketing everything and the kind of content he was creating with the hopes that it would go viral.
Devin: So then I started— Jeff Harmon was like, he showed me this video. It was a bike jump into a pond in Alpine, Utah. And it was shot on a smartphone. Quality was awful, but it had two million views. And Jeff was like, “You should do a video, based on this, but with your cinematography.” So I’m like, “Okay, sure.” So I did that video and then I uploaded it to YouTube.
Devin: I created my own YouTube channel and it got 1,000 views the first day. And then the next day it got 80,000 views. And then a month later it got a million views. So all of a sudden, all these opportunities were coming from YouTube, from social media, just because I uploaded a video on YouTube. So to me, that’s where I learned, like, the power of social media. Because I really didn’t understand it all.
Devin: Like, I had a MySpace account back then, Facebook account. But it wasn’t to promote things. But Jeff Harmon, he showed me, like, the power of using social media, using YouTube, to get your name out there. But from doing those videos, all of a sudden I started getting all these opportunities. Flip Cameras—which they’re actually out of business now, but they were a big company back then—they were like, “Devin, we’d love to hire you to do a nationwide TV commercial for us. It’ll premiere all over the world for Flip Cameras.”
Devin: And so I shot that commercial for them. And even on the commercial, because they wanted it to feel like organic and real, it said, “Filmed by Devin Graham,” on a nationwide TV commercial. And that was the first, like, two months of doing videos on YouTube where I was $0 million budget. I didn’t own a camera. Like, I was using the camera from Orabrush, a Canon 5D Mark II. That was, like, the launch of my career. And then all of a sudden, all these opportunities, business opportunities, started coming from just uploading videos to YouTube and social media.
Devin: It was just this wild, crazy time. And I got lucky because I got into it early. It was like the Wild, Wild West where everyone was rushing to California and get the gold. I was one of the first people there. I felt, like, gave me an advantage because I didn’t really know the potential. No one knew the potential of it except for Jeff Harmon. But it was fun. It was a really exciting time. Just kind of having to figure it all out.
Charan: Yeah. Well, it was interesting because, I would see certain videos … At the time, you were just churning out video after video after video. And it was like every—
Devin: Two weeks.
Charan: It was every two weeks?
Devin: Every two weeks. And then I did every week for, like, a year and a half. Like a viral video. So trying to come up with crazy ideas more than once a week got pretty gnarly. But it was, like, we had, like, 20 videos in a row each week that got a million-plus views. Because the whole thing with creating content on social media, you want to be consistent. Consistent content means a consistent audience. So it was, like, and the Harmon Brothers were like, “Devin, we’ll feature you on the Orabrush page, as long as you can put out a video once a week or once every other week.” And I was like, “Shoot.” So it forced me to be creative. So I’m like, “Okay, I’ve got to create every week to put out something. And [crosstalk 00:09:31]”
Charan: Was that pretty exhausting? I’d imagine it would have been pretty exhausting to be like, “I have to, like, create something this or I got to do this or I got to do that.” And your stuff, it’s not, like, just chancy, like, “Hey, I’m just shooting on my iPhone in my house and blogging,” or anything like that. It’s like a production.
Devin: Yeah, and the good thing and the bad thing—I look at it now—I was filming on a Canon 5D Mark II, compared to, like, filming on RED cameras, now we’re doing 8K footage. The workload takes us a lot longer. Even though we have a team now of five or six people today, back then I was a team of one. Breaking out the shooting, the editing.
Devin: One of our biggest videos back then was “Assassin Creed Parkour,” actually our most-watched video on YouTube now. But that was eight days of filming.
Charan: Ronnie, right?
Devin: With Ronnie, yes, exactly. But that was eight days of filming and releasing a video once a week. It’s just, like, you do the math; it doesn’t even add up. So I don’t even know how I pulled off that stuff. It was just hustling. No social life, no friends, nothing but filming and editing 24/7. Anyone that knew me knew I’d be shooting and come straight home. I’d be editing until three o’clock in the morning. Wake up at eight o’clock, nine o’clock and do it all over again. So it was running as fast as I could, because once you have something successful, you want to run with it as long as you can, because you just don’t know when that’s going to kind of slow down.
Devin Graham Talks About the Origin of DevinSuperTramp
Charan: Yeah. It was interesting ’cause, like, you were like building this huge audience and it’s just been awesome. Well, first, real quick, how did you get the name DevinSuperTramp? What was the origination for that? Is that from that movie—
Devin: “Into the Wild”?
Charan: “Into the Wild,” yeah.
Devin: So my name is Devin—Devin Graham. And one of my favorite books of all time was called “Into the Wild.” It’s a true story about a guy named Chris McCandless that decides he wants to go to Alaska to go live his dreams. So when I decided I wanted to make movies, live my dreams, I called myself DevinSuperTramp, because when he did it, Chris McCandless, he call himself Alexander Supertramp when he went out to live his dreams.
Devin: So when I want them to make movies and my dreams, DevinSuperTramp. Now, with that said, like, I didn’t plan on people calling me DevinSupertramp. I didn’t plan on it going viral or taking off. It was just like a fun, random name, I just put on YouTube. But, like, once you have something that goes viral on social media, that’s the name you’re known for.
Devin: And I always had my hat on backwards back then, 10 years ago. So now people always assume I have my hat on backwards, which now it’s like my image. I always have to have my hat on backwards as well. But that’s kind of the name.
Charan: Yeah. I love that, man. I think it’s just awesome to, like, do something and you’re like, “Oh yeah, I’m just going to do this for fun.” And all of a sudden it’s, like, a household thing now. You, like, have to have your hat on backwards and “I’m DevinSuperTramp and I have a lot of energy and having a lot of fun.” I’ll tell you, just from watching your journey from afar, I’ve known, like, it’s been an awesome journey. It’s been kind of a stressful journey at times.
Devin Graham Talks About Staying Ahead of the Curve
Charan: And it’s been a journey of, like, riding the waves and ups and downs. And I know— what’s interesting— Again, I’m not super, super familiar with the YouTube world. I’ve been mostly in the traditional space. But I’ve known that YouTube has changed the rules a lot. Like a lot of different algorithm changes and different things like that. And there’s different socials that are coming out, like Instagram and all that jazz. So how have you been able to kind of stay ahead of the curve?
Devin: Well, I don’t know if I’ve always stayed ahead of the curve, because I’m trying to get left way behind the curve. But it’s figuring it out. I think one of the biggest things for us, though, is having to be adaptable. It’s, like, you get those filmmakers that say, “I’m only going to shoot on film no matter what.” But then they lose out on other opportunities. So for me, it’s been all about, I’m going to shift.
Devin: It’s not always going to be things I want to shift towards, but I need to keep something about that that I’m still passionate and excited about. Because when you’re just filming content hoping to get some views, I’m going to lose. I’m not going to become successful as far as even just my own personal happiness. So for me it’s like, “Okay, we see Instagram becoming a bigger platform. We’re going to start doing stuff on Instagram.”
Devin: One of the hardest things for me was once Facebook started becoming a player in the video world, the most successful videos were vertical videos. We go from like 16 by 9 movies to all of a sudden vertical. And it was like— and this was Dan Harmon, with the Harmon brothers, he’s like, “Devin, if you want to be successful on Facebook, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to do square and vertical videos.”
Devin: And I was like, “I don’t want to do that.” But he’s like, “I promise you, you’ll get four times more views if you can do that.” And we did that. And back then, this is like two and a half years ago, we instantly saw like six to eight times more views on Facebook.
Charan: That’s crazy.
Devin: Once we turned our videos vertical and square—because it was essentially taking them more real estate when people are scrolling through their feed, instead of it being, like, a little box, it’s a big box covering their whole screen—we were able to monetize our Facebook page. And we were averaging at that time, it’s substantially dropped now, but we were averaging 200 million views a month plus because we had shifted everything to vertical and square. So it was like, it was a game I didn’t want to play, but we played it and we were able to stay ahead of it during that time. And we were able to monetize it as a business.
Charan: That’s crazy, man. Have you heard much about that new platform Quibi? Have you heard about that?
Devin: We have. I mean, I downloaded it. I signed up for it. We haven’t dived into it much, though. I definitely say it’s an upcoming one. I see pros and cons of [inaudible 00:15:07] struggling a little bit, but I see a lot of big name players on it. Tik Tok is, like, the other big platforms [crosstalk 00:15:12] because we try to get our Tik Tok, but somebody already claimed our name. So it was like, do we just build up a random Tik Tok? And then we reached out to them and they said, “Just build up a random Tik Tok and then you can get your name back eventually.” But it made me not as passionate to create a brand on a completely different account.
Charan: For sure. That makes sense. I only ask about Quibi because I’ve got a buddy over there. He’s like an executive over there and he’s trying to get me to, like, do stuff on Quibi. It’s interesting, because there’s so many different platforms and there’s so many different ways of consuming content. But I think what it all comes down to is this, is you serviced a need. You found a demand and you serviced that demand, and people like it and people enjoy it. And I was just telling you earlier, so many of the things that I’ve seen on your channels was inspiring me to be, like, I didn’t even know that was possible. I had no idea that was even a thing in reality. And now I want to try out that thing.
Charan: And one of those things was paramotoring. Other one of you—I think it was in Dubai or something like that and, like, when they were flying over sand dunes—I’m like, “I can’t even imagine that this would actually exist in real life.” And so I went and researched it and I took paramotoring lessons. It was amazing.
Devin: [inaudible 00:16:27].
Charan: I have you to thank, to educate my mind on some really, really rad stuff.
Devin: Well, thank you.
Devin Graham Talks About His Current Projects
Charan: Let’s talk present term now. What are some of the things that are kind of going on in your life right now? You’re still continuing to do YouTube, of course.
Charan: And then you’re doing more stuff on Facebook as well on Instagram?
Devin: Yeah. So to stay in the game, you have to play the game. And at any time there could be a switch that turns off on the algorithm that changes everything. So Facebook, for example, we were averaging 200 million views roughly a month. And then all of a sudden we go from 200 million views to like 8,000 views—8,000, not like, 8,000 million or whatever. So they instantly changed the algorithm. It instantly affects everybody. So now Facebook is more of a pay-to-play. So they basically build up.
Devin: A lot of them kind of go viral, but viral videos don’t really exist anymore unless you’re paying to have them go viral. So Facebook’s— that whole system changed. So we’re not really on Facebook anymore. We’re still on Facebook, we’ll put up videos every so often, but they’re hardly getting any— It costs us more money to produce and edit those videos down for Facebook than what we make off of Facebook. Facebook is just a different game for us right now.
Devin: YouTube as well has shifted as far as their algorithm where it doesn’t favor at all the kind content we create. So now we’re shifting again, trying to figure it out. So we’re kind of in the stage of we’re not crushing it right now. We’re just trying to figure out how to make it work.
Devin: What are we doing currently right now? Well, the biggest thing for us is, as I’m sure you’re aware of, COVID-19 is a little thing going around the world. Coronavirus, once that kicked in, it canceled every one of our projects. Because we’re international. I mean, we make our money, our living, by doing international projects.
Charan: Basically give you the budget to do it. Is that what you mean?
Devin: What I mean by that is, like, London tourism, Paris tourism, Dubai. We make our money when we travel outside of the US. Very little of our paid project comes from the US. It’s mostly international. Like, that’s kind of how we’ve established our brand. All of the projects we had for the entire year have been canceled or, like, just a big pause. But it’s kind of the unknown of we don’t know what’s going to happen.
Devin: So it’s the first time we’ve gone five months without really any paid projects on our YouTube channel. So it’s like, “Oh, shoot.” And we don’t know, like, when things are going to actually open up. Like, they say, Utah’s opened up to— You can be in groups now of 20 people or more. But everyone’s still afraid to make anything happen. So it’s like, it could be open, but who knows when we’re going to actually— people are comfortable to hire again?
Devin: So it’s just big on that. So what are we doing now to kind of survive? We’re trying a lot of things normally we wouldn’t try. So we just launched a stock footage YouTube channel, where it’s just like an hour-long video of stock footage, drones flying through Ireland. So we’ve had a lot of time at our office or at our house just editing videos to create content. Because normally, we wouldn’t have that time. But now we have that time, so we’re just doing a lot of random projects with the hopes that it will take off down the road. For now we can sell stock footage because we’ve edited through all these videos.
Devin: Another thing we just launched, we call it the Filmmaker Challenge. It’s on our second behind-the-scenes channel, where the people, our team—there’s five of us—we gave ourselves a challenge. So last week it was find a meme and you had to create a short story on it. And we showed that process of creating a film through that meme. The one we did this week is we pick one of our favorite comedy scenes in a movie; we had to turn that into a horror film.
Charan: Oh, wow.
Devin: So, like, so, like, Zane on our team, he just finished it yesterday. But he picked a scene from “Dumb and Dumber” when they’re riding in the car and they’re making the most annoying sound in the world. And he turned that scene into this, like, amazing, incredible horror film. Using the exact same script. So essentially it’s our way of staying busy by challenging ourselves as filmmakers.
Devin: And then we’re creating content for our YouTube channel that’s also challenging, inspiring our audience to say like, “Hey, these are ways that you can be creative and create short stories. Like, you don’t always have to spend months and months of planning.” So those are, like, two of our business revenue streams that we’re kind of shifting. Is it going to take off? That’s the hope, but we’re still— there’s just uncertainty. But that’s kind of what we’re doing over the last four months, three months, since everything’s kind of shifted and changed.
Charan: [inaudible 00:20:49] everything. Well, you know what’s interesting, dude? And I think, like, this’ll kind of, like, [inaudible 00:20:55] what I would love to talk about. Ever since I’ve known you, ever since, like, 2008, 2009 to, gosh, like, 12 years later or so, your life has constantly been about, like, understanding the landscape and, like, doing things with the landscape. Right? And switching things around.
Charan: So when YouTube was, when it was thriving, you were on YouTube doing your thing. When Facebook was doing that, you did that. But when Facebook said, “Oh, we have to pay for those ads,” and you started shifting, right? You were constantly [inaudible 00:21:25] of pivoting and shifting, pivoting and shifting based off of the circumstances of your life. And your life, I know, like, especially during those beginning years, was a little bit like a lot of uncertainty, right?
Charan: I remember you were telling me, you were living in a van in Hawaii doing all these things. But you were doing what it took. You were doing what it took. And now you were able to make a good business for yourself and whatnot. But no one would have ever thought in 2020 the world would completely shut down. Right? And it’s interesting for me.
Charan: The reason why I moved back to Utah was, I really want to produce TV shows here and have a lot more control over that. And I felt like my time in LA learning all about how a set should work and run. And I said, “Okay, people get that right here.” And so I was doing that. I was putting together— I had two TV shows, one I was working with VidAngel and the other one was an independent. And then everything happened with COVID. So everything kind of shut down. Which I’m not blaming anyone or anything. This is just the situation. This is just what happened.
Charan: It’s interesting, because your life is all about being flexible and adaptable and going with the flow, going with the change, not setting any expectations of, like, this is exactly how it should be. And maybe earlier on you might’ve felt that way, and then Jeff Harmon was like, “Dude, look at YouTube, look at YouTube.” And you did, and you were like, “Whoa, this is not how I envisioned life was going to be. But I’m happy I’m going with it.”
Devin Graham Talks About Finding Success in Uncertainty
Charan: So I guess right now, you’re shifting and coming up with these cool ideas and filmmaker challenges and whatnot. How would you inspire someone? Or what would you say to someone that has kind of had, like, maybe a little bit more of a rigid way of life, where they expected certain things to be a certain way, stability comes from this particular job or this particular way of life? How do you inspire those people to keep going to find happiness and to find joy despite this incredibly uncertain time?
Devin: Yeah. I’m not the best person on advice. Because I think the biggest thing with me is I am always making it up as I go. Like, I’m not going on any kind of theory or anything I learned in school. If this doesn’t work, don’t give up on your first try. I first say that, like, we tried something, but don’t spend months on something that’s just not working. So, like, the big course, we just launched our filmmaker challenge where we’re doing different challenges. Like, we realized on week two—we’ve done it now for three weeks almost—week two, certain things just were not working. So it’s like, “Shoot, this does not work. We need to shift everything pretty drastically.” We’re still pursuing it, but we’re changing a lot of things inside of what we’re doing to make it more efficient.
Devin: And I think the more things you can try, the more chances you have of something becoming successful. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, as they always say. But I think the more different avenues you can try— Because the thing is, we don’t know if this film is—the challenge that we launched—is going to work. But we also have our third challenge, our visual escape, which is all, like, stock footage, like these relaxing videos. We also have that as a different source of potential income if it takes off.
Devin: But there’s definitely a lot of uncertainty even for us. I think the biggest thing for me is any course that you’re taking, anything that you’re pursuing, is make sure you’re still excited about it. Because if you’re just doing something that you could care less about and it takes off, like, you’re going to be in trouble because people are going to expect you to continue to do that.
Devin: So for me, I think one of the biggest things of why I’ve seen any amount of success is just being adaptable, being flexible and knowing that it’s going to change again, but still stay true to, like, your values, but also stay true to, like, what excites you. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Like, that kind of stuff. And I think that’s been a huge part of it, because it is exhausting. You do feel like giving … I constantly felt like …
Devin: I’d say, the last two months of my life have been the hardest as far as in my life, like the saddest. I’ve been, like, the most, like, “What are we going to do?” Because I’m running a company with five other employees. I’m also in charge of paying their bills or helping pay the bills. And, and they have families as well. So it’s, like, I put them on the street, that’s on my shoulder. So now I have to figure out how we’re going to survive as a business when no work’s coming through.
Devin: There’s this huge pressure now that I’ve never felt before, because normally we have projects nonstop where we’re turning down things. But it’s not the case with COVID. So for us, it’s just trying different sources, different revenue streams, and seeing what gets picked up and what doesn’t. And the good thing about all of this is we’re focusing on these things. Normally we just want to have the time for it, but it’s all stuff we’re excited and passionate about.
Devin: So, like, it makes us excited to go to work, even though it was, like, we don’t have any paid projects, but we’re excited to create content of stuff we’re excited about. I don’t know if that answers the question or not.
Charan: It does. The thing is, it really does, because one of the things that I have discovered about myself—I guess you could say, like, this is one of the greatest discoveries I’ve learned being in COVID during this COVID-19 situation—was I found myself, like, always so busy. I had all these different projects with these different TV shows and, like, my mind was like racing, I should focus on this and just focus on that. And there were times when I was like, “I got to slow down. I got to slow down.” And I wasn’t, but now I’m forced to slow down.
Devin: Yeah, absolutely.
Charan: And slow- slowing down, I started reflecting on things, and I realized, and this is kind of a shocking realization for myself, but I realized that for a lot of my life, I was living a bit of a lie. And I say that because I wasn’t completely authentic to myself. I wasn’t completely authentic to, like, is this bringing me joy or not?
Charan: A lot of times I was working on projects because other people were like, “Dude, this is awesome. You should totally do it. You have to do it.” I was like, “Okay. Yeah, I’ll go for it. I’ll do it.” And it was either like I was relying a lot of people’s excitement or I was relying on other people’s expectations. Whatever it was, I was doing things because other people were saying I should do them.
Charan: But I never really took the time to see, “Is this something that I should do? Is this something that I really want to do?” And the more I started realizing that, the more I was like, “Wow. When I’m not living authentically, I’m not living in power.” And so it’s really cool that what you’re saying, hey, even though you’re not being paid right now, you’re still excited about what you’re creating, that excitement is honest. That excitement lets you know, “Hey, at least I know I’m being authentic with myself. And even though it’s a very uncertain time, I’m being authentic and trying to do my best in a situation that is presented to me.”
Devin: I love that insight. And one of the things, just adding to what you just said with that, like, we had a team meeting last week, and one of the things I realized as we were talking is the saddest thing that’s going to happen over this next year is our team, if our team realize everything we create over this last year because of COVID is stuff we’re not proud of at all, like that’s going to make me the saddest of anything that can happen to us. There’s a couple of other exceptions like death and that kind of stuff.
Charan: Of course, yeah.
Devin: But, if we just spend the last year of our lives busy but not creating stuff that we actually cared about, to me is going to make me to saddest, knowing people on our team are like, “I’m just ashamed and embarrassed of everything we spent the last year.” Like, I want to make sure that what we’re creating is stuff that we’re excited about, that we care about. Even if it’s not getting views, even if it’s not bringing in money, but I still make sure that we’re genuinely happy with what we’re creating.
Devin: So for me, it’s been a learning process, because you still got to make money. There’s a lot of other factors. But it is important that whatever you’re doing it, as much as you can do, make it something that you’re proud of, that you’re excited about.
Charan: Yeah. In fact, I forgot who I was having this conversation with—it was one of these calls—but I happened to become friends with Jake Eberts—he’s passed away since—but Jake Eberts was the producer for Robert Redford. There’s, like, a lot of big movies, “A River Runs Through It,” “Chariots of Fire,” like huge movies [crosstalk 00:29:28]. Anyway, he was sitting down and he was chatting with me. And at the time I was getting into filmmaking and had all these questions and stuff and he told me something that I always remember. And he said, “Listen, Charan, whatever you do, make sure it’s something you’re truly passionate about. Like, don’t go do a movie or something just because it could potentially make you a lot of money; don’t ever do that. Like, do it because you’re genuinely passionate about it.”
Charan: And he said, yeah, he was, like, talking about movies that he’s done that he was really passionate about, like “A River Runs Through It,” “Chariots of Fire.”And they did really well. They were awesome. He said, “But I only did one movie where I knew going in I was not passionate about it. I was not excited about it, but I went and I did it. And I did it because my kids told me that it could be really good and make a lot of money and stuff. And I put so much effort and it failed. It bummed so hard.”
Charan: I’m like, “That’s too bad. What was the movie?”
Devin: [inaudible 00:30:27] I know what it was.
Charan: I know what it was. It was “Mario Bros.” Remember that?
Devin: Oh, really? I love “Mario Bros.” I love the movie. I watched it for my birthday last year.
Charan: You did?
Devin: I know it gets bad hype.
Charan: Yeah. For whatever reason, he just wasn’t passionate about it. He didn’t like it. I guess it didn’t do that well.
Devin: It didn’t do well at all. [inaudible 00:30:47].
Charan: I’m glad that you enjoyed it. But it’s interesting, because he kind of told me something like, “Look, if you’re going to put your attention into something, you might as well have it be something that you truly enjoy.” And not with the hypothetical of, “I could probably make some money and that’s why I want to do it.”
Charan: So it was good. In fact, you were one of the people that taught me about that too. Because, I don’t know if you remember this, but, like, there were times in my life I was really struggling financially, and I was, like, coming to you and talking about, like, YouTube and stuff. I’m like, “Dude, how did you do it?” And you told me, like, “Charan, your intention can’t be, ‘I need to make a lot of money, and that’s why I want to do this YouTube thing.’ You can’t do that. You’ve got to do it because you genuinely want to do the thing.”
Charan: And you were telling me, like, “Hey, the first couple of months, years, however long—” He’s like, “I didn’t make anything. I was struggling. I was doing it because I loved it.” But then sure enough, the empire was kind of being built and then money started coming in. And here’s the thing, like, back then it was interesting, because the stresses were— while you were just by yourself, single, you could live in a van. It was fine, you could do it.
Charan: Right now, much more of a stress. You’re taking care of a whole team. And plus you have gotten married and you have a child as well—which, congratulations by the way, which is amazing.
Devin: Thank you.
Charan: And so of course the pressure going to be harder, right?
Charan: The pressure’s going to be harder. I guess the trick is, how do you still stay honest with yourself when now you have all these other expectations and things that you’re trying to juggle? What is the trick to that? Would you say?
Devin: Well, I don’t know if I have a trick for it. But I know one thing that has helped me is the saying of, “This, too, shall pass.” So knowing that, like, there’s going to be times in your life where you’re just going to crush it. Like, I’ve seen that on YouTube, where every video we put out would blow up millions of views. But we’ve also had those times—and now would be one of those times—where it just— Life is scary. And anything you put out is not getting hardly any views that we thought it would.
Devin: But it’s like, “This, too, shall pass. This bad time will pass; this good time will pass.” It will eventually get better, or it will get worse. It’s just knowing, like, eventually, we’re going to get through this. Things are going to be okay. Life is going to move forward. “Life is going to find a way,” as they say in “Jurassic Park.” It is figuring it out. It is also making sure, like you said, like, you got to be excited about it. You got to be passionate about it as much as you can.
Devin: There’s going to be some times where you’re not, and that’s fine, that’s understandable. It happens to us all the time. But I mean, honestly, we are making it up as we go. I try and pretend like I know everything I’m doing, but a lot of it is just like, “This doesn’t work? Okay. Let’s shift, let’s try this now. This didn’t work.”
Devin: But it’s stuff I’m excited about. It’s stuff that makes me want to go out and create. And it’s making me better of a filmmaker. So I think that’s also, like, a big part of it, is that it’s a challenge. Because I think we all get this risk where we do something that’s successful, we do it again, we do it again. I mean, that’s why there are so many sequels. But then you start losing your passion in it, because you’ve done it so many times. It’s not challenging.
Devin: So for me, one of the things that kind of has helped through this process is doing things that scare me, that challenge me, that make me think differently. Like, it’s almost a good thing that this is happening in the sense that it’s challenging, far more than anything. I don’t want to go through this ever again, so I want to go through it now. But it’s challenging me and that is, like, an exciting part of the process. I feel I’m creating that. It’s making me think differently in ways I have never thought of before. Like, I would have never thought to do this one thing with the filmmaker challenge thing. And who knows if it’s going to take off? But it’s forcing us to be creative in ways we never explored before.
Charan: I love that because it’s true. Like when we get into a routine, when we get, like, a set way of doing things [crosstalk 00:34:40], that was like that, then creativity kind of goes out the window.
Devin: Yes, It does.
Charan: Like, I always think about that example with Steven Spielberg, in creating “Jaws.” Like, the greatest thing that could have happened to him is the shark breaking down. And that caused him to be like, “Alright, what are we going to do? How are we going to make this movie when this mechanical shark doesn’t even work?”
Devin: You use barrels?
Charan: Is that what they used?
Devin: You know the barrels? Because what they do is, like, same thing you’re [inaudible 00:35:07] scene, it’s like, “It’s not working. So how can we create suspense?” So what they did is they realized they shoot the shark with a harpoon and then there’ll be a barrel. So you never see the shark. You see a barrel moving. And that made it more suspenseful. So it worked in his advantage. So it’s like, you have a problem. How can you fix it? And a lot of times it will make it better. I mean, that’s how he handled that situation.
Devin Graham Talks About a New Direction
Charan: That’s how he handled the situation. So would you ever consider making a movie? I know that was, like, your original goal, right?
Devin: I would say that’s still the end goal. Especially episodic.
Charan: [inaudible 00:35:38] Like a series type of thing?
Devin: Yeah. Like, if we could do something on Netflix for us, like, to me, that’s the goal in the next five years—
Devin: —is to create like something like “Stranger Things.” Like, for us, we’d be so excited to be a part of, any part of, that process of creating something like that. We just want to create content. Like, I love “The Goonies.” I loved “Indiana Jones,” “Star Wars.” Like, if I can do anything that has any kind of that energy, just kind of emotions attached to it, like this adventure, I’d love to be a part of that. I think most people in our team would love to be a part of that.
Devin: YouTube has just been a stepping stone that makes brands trust us, that we can show we can get views. And now it’s leading onto the next thing. I think this filmmaker challenge thing that we’ve launched together as a team, what it forced us to do is we’re telling short little stories that are all narrative-focused. That’s proving to people that we do know how to tell stories and we understand that process.
Charan: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting, because you’re forced to tell stories a different way, man. That’s really what it’s coming down to, is that you’re forced to telling stories a different way. I think that the thing that you’re doing, which I think is awesome, and the takeaway I’m getting from it is, like, hey, with the circumstances you’ve been given, you can either be crippled— you can either allow yourself to be crippled or be like, “Okay, cool. What is the thing that I can learn in a situation where there’s a severe amount of limitations?”
Charan: And it’s interesting. Like, for me, I’ve been trying to discover some of my passions since then, my joys that I didn’t get a chance to do a lot before. And one of the things that I’ve discovered about myself, especially over the last couple of years, is how much I love playing tennis. I love playing tennis.
Charan: I’m okay on it, but I love it. And I’m like, this is, like, the perfect social distancing sport.
Devin: [inaudible 00:37:28].
Charan: I go to the courts, like, all the time, when I go hit some tennis balls and—
Devin: Oh, that’s awesome.
Charan: —it’s just been fun to, like, get out there and, like, wow. I was playing before maybe once a week, or once every couple of weeks. Now it’s been, like, once a day.
Devin: Oh, amazing.
Charan: I can totally do it. It’s been awesome. That’s been great. But yeah, man, I’m excited. And the thing is, and I’ve always felt this about you. So I want to encourage you to do this, but I’ve always felt that you were born to be, like, a filmmaker telling like a series or a movie or a feature or anything like that. That was what we used to always talk about before. And so now we’re in this situation where it’s like, you want that to ultimately be your goal. Like maybe getting a show on Netflix, or getting a show like on, like, Disney+ or something. Like, you’re saying [inaudible 00:38:25], “Stranger Things,” like that type of stuff, right?
Charan: Well, I think that now is a time to be like, “Alright, let’s figure out how we can make our first series and how we can do that.” I think it’d be awesome. I think it would great.
Devin: Absolutely. Well, thanks for believing in us, Charan.
Charan: [crosstalk 00:38:39] I’ve been TeamSuperTramp for a long time.
Devin: It’s all we can ask.
Charan: I just need a t-shirt, dude. So whenever you have those ready to go …
Devin: Sadly, we don’t have them. But I can give you a hat.
Charan: I’ll take a hat.
Devin: A new hat. A fresh hat.
Charan: Perfect. I’ll take a fresh hat. That sounds great. Well, Devin, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. Wife and baby good? Is family—
Devin: Wife and baby good. They’re out- my wife started gardening. So they might actually be outside right now, and she’s gardening and just crushing it on that right now. But yeah, it’s been awesome. I was always afraid to be a dad because I’m, like, I had to give up all the things that I love. But I realize it’s only in enhanced everything that I love.
Devin: So for me, it’s hard to explain it, but it truly has. Like, the way I look at filmmaking now is different. I feel I’m a better storyteller because I now understand that side of things, like that love you have for that baby. You’d do anything. I mean, with COVID going on, like, it’s been good in the sense that, like, I can be home a little bit more with him and have those experiences, especially during these times where it’s so crucial in how fast he’s growing. He’s already rolling over, like, doing these things, like, so fast. I can’t keep track of it. It’s awesome. I love being a dad.
Charan: It’s awesome. I don’t know. I was just telling you, like, I know your baby boy is five months old. Right?
Charan: And my nephew is five months old and so yeah, it’s so fun to see them to grow and just, like, start looking around and looking at the world. And it’s cool, because when you get to see it from their perspective, it’s, like, this world of wonder and awe and you’re like, “Gosh, I got to get back to feeling like that. I got to feel like—”
Devin: Yeah. It is a magical world for them. It’s just that whole mindset. That’s completely spot-on now, for sure.
Charan: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Devin, again, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. You’re awesome. And let’s go grab some Indian food soon. I know we love doing that, so …
Devin: Chicken tikka masala.
Charan: Chicken tikka masala, dude. Let’s do that. Okay. Sounds good, man. Thanks again. Okay.
Devin: Thanks, bye. See you soon.
Charan: Take care. Bye.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand podcast and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback in the reviews. And if you or someone you know has an awesome Lemonade Stand Story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.