I Am Dustin
● YouTube Channel - nitsud nitsud
○ Status: Complete
○ December 6, 2017 - February 14th 2019
○ Current SUB count = 108
○ 31 videos (one which had been removed by YouTube)
○ Just over 2 hours of content
● Twitter - I am not Nitsud (@nitsudnitsud)
○ December 16th 2017 - March 25th 2019
○ Current followers count = 43
● YouTube Channel - Gun Gun
○ Status: Complete
○ August 1st 2018 - April 14th 2019
○ Current SUB count = 113
○ 14 videos
○ Just over 1 hour of content
● Twitter - I am not Gun (@birthdayboygun)
○ April 15th 2018 - April 15th 2019
○ Current followers count = 27
● Wixsite (used to “recruit”)
Throughout the entirety of this ongoing project, there have been various reddit accounts.
Nitsud’s “mother” had an account at one time, as well as many throwaways. Nitsud also had a discord account, but rarely used it.
● YouTube Channel - Dustin TheWind (https://www.youtube.com/dustinthewind195)
○ Status: Hiatus
○ May 5th 2019 - Ongoing (most recent video posted
September 4th 2020)
○ Current SUB count = 151
○ 30 videos
○ Approximately 4.5 hours of content
● Twitter - Dustin TheWind (@dustythewind195)
○ April 3rd 2019 - Ongoing (most recent tweet
November 8th 2020)
○ Current followers count = 47
● Reddit - u/dustinthewind195 (https://www.reddit.com/user/dustinthewind195)
○ Insight into Dustin TheWind’s headspace
● Personal Website (www.dustinthewind195.com)
○ I have since deleted this website
● Instagram 1/2 (@dustinthewind195) 117 followers
● Instagram 2/2 (@tiggertiger195) 11 followers
● Facebook group (@dustinthewind195) This Facebook
group has since been deleted
● YouTube Channel - Dust Bunny
○ Status: Hiatus
○ July 19th 2019 - Ongoing (most recent video posted
October 28th 2020)
○ Current SUB count = 22
○ 8 videos
○ Approximately 30 minutes of content
● Twitter - DustBunny (@dustbunny195)
○ February 29th 2020 - Ongoing (most recent tweet
November 10th 2020)
○ Current followers count = 2
● Tumblr (https://dustbunny195.tumblr.com/)
At the time of writing this, I am a Canadian man in my mid thirties. When I was 10 years old, I found myself devouring book after book which greatly influenced who I am today. My mother kept many book shelves downstairs, housing; Stephen King, Dean Koontz, monster
encyclopedias, books recounting alien abduction cases, serial killer profiles, books on cults, etc. I would return home after school and spend the better part of the afternoon/evening just reading. I’d also read during the weekends, and would take out additional books from the library. Actually, I skipped school a lot and instead spent my day at the library. Around this time, I also found myself growing more and more interested in Japan and its culture, after being superficially introduced to it through Japanese RPGs and anime.
It goes without saying, I was a fairly introverted child. I got into writing, and wrote a few dark short stories while in highschool. I got
sent to the principal’s office a few times regarding my stories, as they weren’t deemed “appropriate.” I also entered one into a short story contest and won, although I didn’t bother to claim the prize as I didn’t care about it. Fast forward to me as a 24 year old social work student, I decided that at some point in my future, I would live for an extended time totally immersed within Japanese culture, in Japan. So, from studying social work, I then went into psychology. I think it’s important to mention that mental health issues presented themselves within my immediate family, which prompted my interest in these fields. Also, at 24, after an extended internship counselling youth in Jamaica, I grew interested in travel and culture.
I finally arrived in Japan to teach English sometime in my early 30’s. Prior to living in Japan, I was very detached from western forms of media, including YouTube. Within Japan, I began exploring YouTube and came across unfiction, and was intrigued by it. I recall one of my
first exposures being Marble Hornets, and from here I was also introduced to EverymanHybrid, and then to you. If I remember correctly, it was during [Nick's] first HIMM video entitled “Hi I’m Mary Mary: Instant Gold Star Webseries," that I thought to myself ‘I could do something like this’. The problem was, I had absolutely no idea how to use the technology, and had to commit to a very steep learning curve. I didn’t even know what a .png image was. I literally knew next to nothing, but this further motivated me, as I felt the need to tackle something new, something challenging. I wanted to learn a new skill. Because I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it or not, I didn’t want to invest too much money into things at the beginning. So, I downloaded a free editing software called Shotcut, and purchased a cheap Victure action camera.
At this time, I was reading a lot of Haruki Murakami, and while exploring western media, found myself interested in Miranda Sings and how a person could play such a ridiculous character but come across as believable in that her character seemed fairly consistent (a
perspective I no longer carry regarding Miranda as a character). I was also greatly influenced by life in another country. I was living in a small rural Japanese town of 8000 people (the majority senior citizens), who hardly spoke a word of English, while I hardly spoke a word of Japanese. When not working, I taught myself how to edit video, how to use paint.net (as I didn’t want to pay for photoshop), and ventured forth into areas most just sorta grow up with; YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, Discord, Instagram, etc. All of this was totally new to me. Besides Facebook, I had not utilized social media at all. Reddit and Discord I had no idea even existed until I started nitsud nitsud and began self teaching myself how to market. Anyway, I was living in a new culture, alone, at the mercy of a deep language barrier. I figured that me living in a rural Japanese town, was an interesting setting for me to plop a narrative into, and that it was the perfect time to learn something new/dive into becoming a creator myself. So, I did.
I’ve always been a fan of eccentric/misunderstood characters (like Edward Scissorhands), as well as characters who give unreliable narratives (like the novel “The Girl on the Train”). I’ve also always loved stories told from within a dual narrative. So, I knew I wanted to
work from this angle. I also wanted to jump into my story, without planning it out so much at first. The idea “let the story tell itself to you” is very firmly planted in my mind. I enjoy not knowing where the story I’m creating is going, and learning as I go. It makes me feel more like the characters I’m creating are “real” in some way. I think this is something I possibly lean into a bit TOO much however as it means I began nitsud’s story hastily, when I ought to have put more planning into things. Anyway, I began nitsud nitsud with the above in mind, formed a basic foundation to nitsud and why he is who he is, and everything sorta’ told itself to me over time.
Prior to filming, I reflected on if I could actually portray someone other than myself (act). I had never attempted acting before, and quite frankly, never thought of doing so. Upon reflection, I think my mother, and 2 sisters influenced me a lot here as a youth. Without going into detail, my mother and sisters all pretended to be me, on the regular, in order to present portrayals of me which were not me, to others within our town. Growing up, I was a very quiet, introverted guy. I would spend my days walking on eggshells, distancing myself from any sort of social connection, as I could never know how anyone perceived me, based on my family pretending to be me on the phone, and calling anyone and everyone as “me.” My sisters had also recorded many fake cassette tapes pretending to be me singing songs, which they then duplicated and sent out to all the kids in my town, claiming I aspired to be a famous singer, and would drop off
fake notes from me into mail boxes across town.
I had people physically attack me from time to time, based on untruths “I” had said. Adults in my neighbourhood saw me as someone else, as when my mother wasn’t pretending to be me with others, she was sharing multiple untruths regarding my treatment of her. I had trouble securing employment, as my family would then call them, pretending to be me, stirring the pot. For example, my sister would pretend to be me at times and call me in sick and my mother would pretend to be me if work called to ask me to come in early, saying “yes”, and then I’d end up showing up at my regularly scheduled time. I come from a turbulent family past filled with many challenges beyond mentioned here, but I also really admire how creative my mother and sisters were. My older sister would always play characters around the house as she aspired to be an actress. She was such an original, and her roleplay really influenced me when it came to creating the characters I did.
Nitsud was originally supposed to be a character opposite to myself. Hence his name being my name, but backwards. Very quickly I came to realize that I couldn’t adequately conceptualize what an “opposite” to me would present like. Thus Nitsud became a character
who could stand on his own, not defined by my true self. This wasn’t of concern to me however, as I enjoyed how Nitsud just sorta became his own person. Overtime, the narrative in its entirety, expanded as it did from the conception of Nitsud.
***Below you will find a table outlining the happenings behind my attempts at getting my web series out there. Following this, is a detailed story behind the table. For specific dates, please see “Social Media Utilized” at the top of this document. I hope everything
is organized in such a way that it’s simple to follow.***
How did you begin working on it, what did it involve, and what does the web series explore?
At its core, the narrative in its entirety encapsulates an existential crisis, while exploring unresolved childhood trauma, themes of loneliness, memory, a general lack of living in the “now” (perceived past/future influence the “now”), and a fear of a future heightened loneliness... among more. The narratives and its characters, in many ways reflect myself/personal issues, both resolved/ongoing. Thus, the web series is a very personal one.
When travelling to other countries and exploring new cuisine, culture, meeting new acquaintances, etc. I very rarely have another with me to share these memories with; to talk about nostalgically over drinks at a bar. I began to grow concerned about forgetting things which
are crucial to making me me, thus I decided that I would share my memories with myself instead. I mean... through shared experiences with friends, bonds are made, and these bonds between oneself and another, are like sparks to memory. How often have you had a
conversation with a friend regarding some aspect of your shared pasts, which served as a jumpstart to your own memory, to think to yourself, “how is it possible that I ever forgot this!?”
Without these “reminders” through nostalgic banter with omnipresent individuals within our lives, such critical memories may go forever forgotten. Totally shrouded in darkness, lost within the depths of our own minds. So, by creating the channels I did, I’ve begun the journey of being my own life “partner.” Sharing with myself. However, to merely document my life and share it with myself, is such a boring concept to me. Thus, I ultimately decided to create a narrative, sorta’ as an excuse to document my life. I mean... if I envision myself as an old man alone in a retirement home struggling with dementia, I can see these stories I’ve made, which also document my experiences, as bringing me so much joy. In a way, the narrative I’m establishing is a friend I’m constructing. For a future self which may never be. A future self I fear becoming, but feel it to be inevitable.
It’s also about identity. Hell, all perspectives and both arcs are about a whole lot really. It all may come across as a giant mess of a project to some, and I could understand why (kinda like Neon Genesis Evangelion). The process of the story has also been a tool in me sorting out
more of who I am. In a way, through creating this narrative, I’ve motivated myself to do a lot more self reflection than I otherwise would have. So, the process itself is a sort of... defense against my fear of my future. Hope. Within my core, I feel as though the more I explore myself psychologically, the “stronger” I’ll be, and the higher the probability becomes that I can divert my path towards a more favourable future where I won’t need this constructed “life partner” in my future. The grass is always greener on the other side.
I’ve always loved the idea of a story telling itself to me, and the challenge of taking something mundane, and turning it into much more. When writing stories in the past, I loved to take a little bit of conversation overheard in public and construct it into a short story. Taking a
random image somewhere and constructing a short story around that image. Asking someone to write me a random sentence, which I would then build a story around, etc. For example, if when walking down the street I heard a random bit of a stranger's conversation, “~ and after spilling his beer on me he didn’t even apologize!”, I’d consider constructing a narrative around that. Who spilled the beer? What was the relationship between this person and the person I just overheard? What bar were they within and why were they there? Questions such as these might emerge, prompting me to construct a story.
My story began with Nitsud. The core that I worked around was simply a man who was being stalked by an abusive mother of whom he wanted to find him, all while acting as though he didn’t want to be found. A character who had mental health issues, but who was also much more intelligent than he presented, who would act in hyperbolic ways, in an attempt at controlling his own existence, as he never felt in control before.
Nitsud, I had also planned to be the opposite of me, hence his name being mine backwards. However, this quickly changed and Nitsud simply became his own person. I realized there’s no clear image of what an “opposite” of me could possibly be. I don’t think such a concept exists. There ought to be countless “opposites” of everyone.
I’m not saying my approach was “proper” or not. Although it felt right to me, I think my approach made it so my content was much more difficult for others to connect with. It was all very personal... Perhaps TOO personal. When it comes to personal life narratives, there is no
clear sense of “narrative”. “Life doesn’t make narrative sense”. I wanted to adequately get this hectic, unstable, mess of everyday life portrayed, which would actually be (at its core) something relatable to others, but it’s also something really hard to identify with. I think we as humans have this urge to categorize our experiences in an attempt at making sense of the world around us and our relationship to it and others, which makes this “core” a double edged sword. How can people identify with something if they’re not permitting themselves to identify first and foremost with themselves? Presence is key.
Eventually, I created Gun as a way to highlight a side to Nitsud's story in a way which Nitsud himself could not. Through Gun’s narrative, so much more to both these characters’ histories and struggles are exposed.
Nothing to Nitsud’s and Gun’s stories were discussed with anyone. Nothing at all. This isn’t a “brag”. I was really just alone. I would have LOVED someone to bounce ideas offa’, someone to help out, and a means to receiving constructive criticism which would only benefit
my work. I had asked a friend of mine in Japan to help me do some minor things within Nitsud and Gun’s story, but he honestly had absolutely no idea what he was doing or why. I just asked him to assist, and he did. For instance, I asked him to enter an abandoned hotel with me where I took off my clothes and put an overwhelmingly stained dress on, before handing him carrots and iced tea in a box and running downstairs where I waited for him to walk down with my camera in hand, find me, and to give me the carrots and tea.
That hotel basement was COATED in black mold and the tatami was entirely soaked and squishy. He found me lying down on it. I can’t even imagine what might have been going through his mind at that moment. But I did manage to capture his expression. I’ll post that image below haha. We couldn’t discuss any of this in depth, as between us existed a steep language barrier. I did share the YouTube channels with him eventually, so he could see I was creating a story. He said it scared him. Additionally, I enlisted him to play the role of Henry within Gun’s narrative. All I did was give him a robe to wear for a photo, to hold/shake my hand in one video, and to run past the camera in one scene in another video. I also eventually shared Nitsud and Gun with a few friends of mine, but... they don’t get it. I felt similar to when you love a television series and have seen all it’s seasons, only to attempt at discussing this series with someone who’s only seen an episode or two.
Dustin TheWind is the character most like myself, and has been shared with all I know as I posted it to my personal Facebook. I’m certain all subtle dark undertones will/have gone unnoticed. Dust Bunny hasn’t been shared with anyone in my life at all. Well... a student of mine did find it, haha. I do some online ESL work, and a student of mine quite proficient in online stalking managed to pick up on a few breadcrumb trails, and locate quite a bit of my “unconventional” stuff.
I read a comment on an online thread regarding Daisy Brown a few years back. Now, I hadn’t noticed this myself, but they mentioned a scene where a glimpse of a woman holding a paper plate (perhaps lithop’s mask?) could be seen in the background somewhere. This
commenter mentioned how they perceived this to mean that the person playing the character Daisy Brown (Julia Dapper) was the true core to the story. A lonely girl who’s creating stories as a way to escape her loneliness. Whether this woman holding a paper plate is actually within Dapper’s work or not, is beyond me. But what’s interesting to me is how a millisecond of something so subtle can entirely change the entire experience. Give a narrative an entirely new layer/depth of meaning. It has really resonated with me. Thus I embarked on continuing the story, influenced by such a thought, as well as the aspiration to create something “real” (a real travel vlog), but with a subtle dark undertone which would eventually become an overtone. I sorta see these narratives being different levels of consciousness.
How did you get the project out there and what was the process like?
This, without fail, was and continues to be (in my opinion) my absolute weakest area; self-promotion/marketing. Headed into this realm, my knowledge was very limited. Besides having a personal facebook account, I had no prior experience using any other form of social
media besides watching YouTube videos. While engaged with the process, I learned of Reddit and Discord, two thingies I had no idea existed. A steep learning curve cluttered the path before me, yet I wanted to navigate this path.
First of all, this was my first time creating/posting videos for YouTube. When I began self promoting, I made a reddit account and utterly spammed as many subreddits as possible. I posted my videos into many “normal” groups like, “lifehacks”, “DIY”, “YouTube tutorials”, etc. All
groups connected to Nitsud’s narrative. I wanted it to be clear that nitsud just saw himself as everyone else, even though his content was very much unfitting. Thus, I didn’t originally post to subreddits like r/ARG, r/unsettling, etc. I was quickly accused of spamming, and this got me really confused and irritated. At the time, I thought spamming meant spamming individual subreddits. The entirety of reddit (in my mind) couldn’t be “spammed”. So, posting the same video to 10 different subreddits in a day wasn't spamming, as I posted a single time within each subreddit. Anyway, people didn’t take too kindly to me, disliked my videos, ridiculed me, etc.
There was one reddit user who for whatever reason led a charge against me, and gathered a group of people to go through my videos disliking them. I recall them telling people to dislike my videos to, “get him where it hurts”. I didn’t like this as I felt a lot of dislikes would greatly influence people being introduced to my work. This trumped the concept of “engagement” to me, as I was just attempting to “life off”. Reddit very quickly became a very toxic place to me. Although I have learned how to better utilize reddit over time, through more experiences on reddit, I’ve grown to see the site as a fairly oppressive one. Not that the platform doesn’t have its pros. Just... to me, the negatives outweigh them.
I also came across another streaming platform and posted my videos there, but eventually deleted my account. I totally forgot what this platform was called. Also, I was thinking that the video entitled “I Tried Following a James Charles Makeup Tutorial” might gain traction
as it was trending, but also “James Charles” was in the title and tags, and for whatever reason, many people obsess over him. I’d parody YouTube trends at times, thinking this could assist with the algorithm.
I eventually got an invite to join a guy’s discord group, after he saw some of my videos. This group is called “Strange YouTubers Collab and Community”, and is still active, although I am personally not active on Discord. I shared my videos with the group, and engaged with its
members while always in character (Nitsud). I liked being a part of this community, in that they didn’t judge my work. Whether they actually enjoyed/understood my work or not, they would watch my videos and passively support me. It was a nice change from Reddit. I think I posted one of my videos once on Nexpo’s Discord. Also, one of the reddit accounts I used at the time was called “Nitsy’s Mother”, and a member of the Strange YouTuber’s group who followed Nick Nocturne on Discord had noticed that some random who came across this Reddit account, had actually posted it alongside Nitsud’s “carrot muckbang with new friends'' video to the Night Mind Discord. He screen captured this finding and sent it to me in our group. I felt really excited at this moment, that a viewer had found my work interesting enough to attempt at putting it on Nick's radar.
Ultimately, the group was helpful in that I felt unjudged, but beyond this, not much came out of it. I didn’t spend much time conversing with the group.
I spent a lot of time trying to learn how to self-promote/market. When I first started to self-promote, I had no idea there was so much stigma attached to it. You know how when a job description for an entry level position states, “2 - 3 years experience in the field is an asset”? I felt like the same contradiction exists in the realm of self-promotion, and it got me feeling very frustrated and disheartened. How quick people were to judge a post as self-promotion, for no good reason, and to then allow this perspective with somehow convincing themselves that this project is not worth attention, or to allow this perspective to influence in a “dictating-like” fashion how they perceive the project (if they do end up checking it out), is such an obscure concept to me. There’s a lot of stigma to self-promotion, which people don’t think critically about. It’s really just black and white to many. PERCEIVED self-promotion = bad. No self-promotion = good.
I was forced to get more crafty, and spent a lot of time exploring alternatives. I would also eventually start creating throwaway reddit accounts in advance, so I could spend some time establishing karma/a post history, just so it seemed “real”. I felt I needed throwaway accounts, as it made no sense for the characters I’ve established to promote their social media to the proper target audience. For example, Nitsud would never post a video of his to r/unsettling, but instead to perhaps r/beautyhacks. A fake person could act within a scope of “normalcy” and target an audience better.
I also didn’t really know how to use YouTube tags properly, and had no idea what SEO (search engine optimization) was. My original tags were other youtuber’s channel names (including “Night Mind”), as I figured when others would search already prominent channels, my channel may pop up as well. I didn’t think tags could be seen by others, but a few months into Nitsud’s channel, I realized how wrong I was, and went in and changed all my tags. I’ve gone through my tags on multiple occasions (across all channels) in an attempt at making
I also created Twitter accounts (another platform I had never used before), and had absolutely no luck with it. I still don’t know how to use twitter. I did a lot of research into hashtag usage, etc. but still, I’d very rarely get any engagement. The same goes for Instagram. Ugh, I really didn’t like using twitter or Instagram... that’s why after the 1st arc (Nitsud and Gun’s stories), I’m so inactive there.
On Twitter, Nitsud joined a group created by a new (at the time) content creator who has since deleted all her work, called “LacieXFacie”
(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgYkvIOiHw9wcwixi8cS3HA). Anyway, I very briefly spoke with this group and eventually one of the group’s members mentioned Nitsud in a YouTube video of her own, which I only actually came across a few months ago. I’ll post the link here, but it’s not really much of anything. I was just pleased to see mere mention of Nitsud. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArEQJ9BaN0w.
At one moment, after posting the “I’m going to be abducted” video, I had posted it somewhere to reddit, and a few people had misunderstood it as a person disclosing that they had murdered their mother (which Nitsud actually did NOT say). People went ahead and
reported the video to the (RBI) Reddit Bureau of Investigations (https://www.reddit.com/r/RBI/). Nothing came of this, and no one reached out to me personally. I have no idea if this RBI actually carries any relevance, or if it’s just a “thing”. Furthermore, I was surprised in general,
with how many people thought nitsud was real. I thought I had created a character too eccentric to ever possibly be seen as real, but, this wasn’t the case. I thought that if anyone were to think this character was real, they would think he was a guy living under the autism spectrum. Yet... no one ever actually mentioned this.
Speaking of autism, let’s change the topic for a moment. Full disclosure, I work as an educator within special education, and have done a lot of work within the sphere of autism, as well as within general mental health fields. I’ve worked closely with people living with schizophrenia, autism, have counselled youth, etc. Furthermore, I myself am on the spectrum. With this in mind, I recall my first introduction to Alan Tutorial. Believe it or not, I had no idea of Alan Resnick/Wham City Comedy’s work, prior to starting my own web series. I had two
comments at one point on reddit. One stating my channel reminded them of meatsleep. I don’t see it personally. The other one mentioned a similarity to Alan Tutorial. I checked Alan out and agreed. The two stories certainly do carry similarities to them, but there was no influence at all at this point. Actually, after watching a video or two of his, I stopped and didn’t watch more until towards the end of Nitsud’s story. I didn’t wanna’ subconsciously make another Alan Tutorials. I think I watched more of Alan Tutorial just prior to the “I’m going to be abducted” video, because the idea of “abduction” was inspired by Alan Tutorial. The white van emoji in the video title was a nod in his direction, as he used the white van emoji in that chain of emojis he put together, which outlined Alan’s entire journey. Anywho, I fell in love with sir Resnick and Wham city Comedy and have since engaged with a whole lot of their work. This is probably a good time to mention that growing up, I was mostly into horror movies. I remember watching Stephen King’s IT at 6 or so years old alone with my cat in the basement, in the evening, during a storm, when during a scary scene the power went out. It was utterly pitch black. I grabbed and gently held onto my cat’s tail, and he instinctively seemed to know what to do. Holding his tail, I trailed behind him as he led me through the dark basement, and up the stairs toward perceived safety. Anywho, back to self-promotion/marketing...
From here, Gun’s narrative begins, and I felt a lot more prepared. Firstly, I tried implementing your advice in your “How to Make a Web Series”. Furthermore, I was inspired by general tellings of dark story channels like lady masquerade (https://www.youtube.com/user/Aylingater77)), where it’s like someone is simply reading a book to you, as well as how amazing a concept it was to me, that something amazing could take place in spaces as small as a room, or even a bathtub. Alan Resnick’s @AlanBathtime twitter account which had just gotten started at the time influenced me. I also reflected on the first Saw movie, and decided I wanted to tell a story within a small space establishing a vibe much like a book is being read to the viewer. I wanted viewers to feel as though they’re back in kindergarten, sitting in a semi-circle on a carpet with their peers, eyes glued to the book’s visuals, as the teacher read.
Through utilizing throwaway reddit accounts, I from time to time posted to subreddits like r/ARG, etc. (just as I had eventually done with Nitsud), but didn’t spam across the platform. I also attempted to make things more engaging. I created a group chat on Gun’s twitter for his
most loyal followers, created a wix site in an attempt to “recruit” potential Fellowers so followers had a means to connect with another character HER, via email exchange, I reached out to Sticker Mule (www.stickermule.com), and had Gun’s Youtube channel logo made into a sticker, which I then wrote various little notes onto (EX; “The Great Observer Awaits”, “We need you”, etc.), as well as the actual wix site, and then literally stuck many of these stickers all over in public (washroom stalls, vending machines, building walls, etc.), within America, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia. I was travelling quite a bit. I know one sticker I placed on a vending machine in Okinawa Japan, was still there about a year later, as a friend of mine who was with me while I stuck it there, visited a year later, saw it, and sent me a photo of it. (see attached images below)
I then learned of 4chan. I created a fake account, and posted somewhere in there as a random traveler who had come across these stickers within 2 or 3 countries, in order to evoke mystery amongst others.
My efforts mostly went nowhere. I didn't receive any clear indication that anyone who contacted me through the wixsite, had done so as a result of the stickers. I surely posted the wixsite someone on Reddit as well, as I was receiving emails from people, however, I don’t recall precisely where to.
Overtime, Gun actually DID earn a very small following. These people I think came from Reddit originally? I don’t exactly recall. But they all engaged with the narrative, which I really enjoyed. But, I also grew a bit concerned and began to question the ethics to my web series.
People were believing in the world of GUN, which I found surprising as I thought I had made it out to very clearly be an unfiction project. Some of these people didn’t seem to be the most “stable”, and as I knew Gun’s narrative was going to explore concepts such as death/suicide/murder, I created a twitter group, so that these followers could have a community of their own. I personally saw this group I created for them as a potential sorta’... therapeutic alliance. I wanted them to have support with whatever they were going through. Some of them actually seemed to become online friends. I personally didn’t engage too much within the group. I wanted the group to be THEIRS. This group, unbeknownst to them, dramatically shifted the course of Gun’s narrative. The death/suicide/murder component was originally to reach a pinnacle at Gun’s story’s climax, where almost everyone dies.
There was one person who connected with Gun’s story so much, I grew concerned for her mental wellbeing. I became increasingly aware of how it didn’t matter if I created something clearly real or not... people perceive things how they will, believe what they will, choose to see what they want, connect in a way which is relevant to where they are in their lives... ultimately, I couldn’t fully control how others’ may experience my content, forcing me to reflect upon the power I carried within the realm of influence. I grew concerned that I could unintentionally encourage suicide within my narrative, as this small group came together to become Fellowers themselves, and for a chance to relocate to The Sanctuary (where Gun lived). This is the guise which brought them all together anywho. I’m sure all but one understood Gun as an unfiction character. If Gun’s group (The Fellowers) all perished, Someone experiencing the narrative could follow suit in an attempt at joining the Fellowers on “the other side”. I was scared this could happen, especially with the specific follower I just mentioned. I was concerned of unintentionally forming an actual cult-like connection within participants. Thus, the ending to Gun’s narrative didn’t involve suicide at all. Additionally, I also convinced these few followers to share The Fellowers details to their own twitter profiles. You mentioned wanting to know “follower size versus participant size”. I suppose my follower size is as outlined above in my subscriber/follow counts. This small twitter group was the only true participant group. Thus, my participant size reached upwards to 10.
Over time, some of these followers got looking into some of the cryptic things presented within my videos, and came to understand their references, which I really enjoyed. I had a sense of “accomplishment” even though this small group of followers didn't even amount to 10. I
had many references however, as well as areas with hidden morse code, etc. go unnoticed. I didn’t incorporate puzzles, cause that’s not all that exciting to me personally. To me, the narrative and character progression IS the puzzle. One follower in particular was only following
me to expose it all as fake. Which it was, so I didn’t care. Her persistence here intrigued me. She ended up reaching out to some small “game breaker” groups, who then contacted me. The entire time I engaged with anyone, I’d be in character. Not just “Gun”, but also “Henry” and “HER”. I digress.
Arc 2 begins with Dustin TheWind and Dust Bunny. From here, the connection to Nitsud and Gun becomes almost nonexistent (thus far). But, the connection IS there. This hasn’t yet entirely been fleshed out in Dustin TheWind/Dust Bunny’s narrative, but it’s been hinted at.
I wanted to do something which had never been done before. I wanted to create a real channel specific to a genre (in Dustin TheWind’s case a travel vlog), but for it to eventually unravel into something much different. To simply create a travel vlog is such a boring concept to me. So, I spiced things up with an underlying story which is hinted at even in Dustin TheWind’s very first video. I recall you posting a video in the past about a creator who posted car-related videos, and that it was the first of it’s kind to start as something “real”, and then to transition into unfiction. However, I argue that I had done so first, I have just gone unknown all this time. Well, this is debatable. I think from an “arc perspective”. Since Nitsud and Gun came prior to Dustin TheWind, a contrary perspective is understandable. Perhaps there is an unknown creator before me even.
For clarity’s sake, Dustin TheWind is another character I’m portraying, however, this character is much closer to who I genuinely am. He’s essentially me, but different in many ways... which I know is vague.
Anyway, when promoting Dustin TheWind, I shifted focus yet again. I’d rarely post videos to relevant subreddits. This time I also created Instagram accounts, but saw no growth here. To be honest with you, I really do not like using Twitter or Instagram. Just to log in is tedious to me. I simply wanted to create other avenues where more people could hopefully come across my content. Like threads of silk in a spider's web extending outwards in hopes of catching more prey. Not that I see a potential audience as “prey” haha. I dropped many comments onto “shadow people” videos on YouTube, and even connected Dustin TheWind’s Instagram which branched out to YouTube, to a Grindr account, and used fake GPS to “travel” around the world, exposing this breadcrumb trail to total randoms. Figured it was worth a try, haha.
Some things I did differently this time around, I actually posted this channel to my personal Facebook page, as Dustin TheWind was very close to authentically being me. I also created a personal website (a travel blog), which I wrote essay-like papers regarding things like
Japan’s population crisis, or how the English curriculum within Japan is trash, to help in giving the channel a more authentic vibe, while also attempting at attracting more people through there/giving the entire project a sense of seriousness. This website has since been deleted, but I still have the essay-like papers I wrote.
I also reached out to a pin making company, designed pins and had a few hundred made, which had my website on them. While travelling, I would hand them out to people, leave some laying around randomly in public for randoms to come across, give to people I actually knew, etc.
Finally, I decided to actually pay for ads on Facebook and YouTube. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but tried nonetheless. I didn’t spend much, in total surely under $100, but I didn’t see much results beyond superficial views which lasted seconds, with very little actual
engagement following. I have trouble connecting very obvious dots at times. I had actually paid to run full videos as ads on YouTube, and didn’t really grasp what I was doing, even though I myself had been exposed to countless YouTube ads, until a random comment on one of my videos expressed, “This came up as an ad?” Instantly, dots connected in my head, and I eventually made a channel trailer and ran that as an ad instead, in a last ditch effort to “properly” run a more “appropriate” ad. This warranted no results as well. Just superficial clicks.
No engagement. So, this ad ran very briefly.
Regarding Dust Bunny, I have done very little to promote this channel. The only connective tissue it has thus far to the wider narrative, is a comment Dust Bunny left on DustinTheWind’s very first video. Besides this, I only once posted a single Dust Bunny video to r/ARG via a throwaway account, and after a day or two, I believe I deleted the post. The channel currently has 22 subscribers, which all came through this single post to Reddit.
Thus, the majority of my audience has stemmed from Reddit, while Facebook is a close contender when reflecting upon Dustin TheWind. My growth has been turbulent and miniscule at best however.
After posting Nitsud’s “Salima mask” video, I decided to shift things to a degree. I spent probably about 16 hours editing that video, learning so much along the way, introduced more to the story, posted it somewhere on reddit before bed, and went to sleep feeling accomplished
and proud of myself. I see this video as more me... playing around and figuring out the editing software I was using at the time. However... I had trouble sleeping, and after finally getting a few hours rest, I awoke to this deep feeling of shame. I felt that the way I was going forward with Nitsud's character, that I was doing him an injustice, and wasn’t being true to myself/how I wanted to portray the narrative. For example, I had, up to this point, focused a little too much on making my content suggestive, and decided to calm it down. The following morning, I filmed “I’m sorry”, which was quite the random video, and served as an apology to myself as well as Nitsud.
I felt that the way I was going about things, I was cheapening my vision. From here, I spent more time thinking, planning, and researching. Thankfully, I worked a job which had a fair amount of down time, thus I had an abundance of time to simply think and to further secure the
narrative.. I had filled up notebooks with ideas and lists of areas I wanted to be more informed of, recorded voice memos to myself on my phone, sent emails to myself when I didn’t have a notebook to write into, etc. I focused much more on how to establish characters, story, etc. and editing videos became much more intense. I also opened myself up more to “raw” footage, ultimately creating an unusual hybrid of edited and raw footage. Which may not have been the most ideal way to go about things. I wanted to give viewers a feeling of hecticness, chaos and a general “wtf?”. I felt like this hybrid style catered to this, but in hindsight, I may at times have gone a bit overboard. With all the work put into the videos as a whole, I wouldn’t doubt an average of 15-ish hours to be behind each and every video. From all the planning, research, filming, learning, as well as editing. Also, I did a bit of research into acting, but I honestly did very little research here. I actually quickly felt very comfortable with Nitsud and his character after the “salima mask” video. That “salima” mask video, although critical to his story, is probably my most disliked video on his channel. It’s beyond cringey.
I started to have a lot of fun with the process, and with the creative process. I recall downloading a bunch of apps which played around with sound, and staying up all night in a hotel, just clashing cups together, dropping random things onto the floor, stomping, slamming doors shut, etc. and then manipulating this captured audio. Some of these sounds I incorporated into the “Againpost” video on Nitsud’s channel, which for some reason sounds a bit like a train... which I didn’t realize until much later. I started off with spending cash as minimally as possible as I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the process. Eventually, I got spending more alongside spending more time on things. I’ll outline
specific equipment and software used below.
Final note here, I still at times receive emails from one of the people who was in Gun’s Twitter chat group. I also recently received a comment on one of Nitsud’s videos asking, “where have you gone?” Very minimal from a numbers perspective, but knowing some have connected with my work makes me feel good. Although, I don’t think a single person (besides myself) knows of the vastness to the world I’ve created.
How do you feel about your work on the whole? Have you failed or succeeded?
There were times throughout the process when I’d find myself focusing more on the lack of interaction, high dislike counts on some videos, the unflattering ratio of views/subscribers, the very low average watch time, which was much lower than the average length of videos. At times I felt all my efforts were for naught, the narrative I was constructing was hollow, that no one cared/would ever care to get acquainted with the story. I doubted my worth in storytelling, and questioned my ability to GET an audience to care. Moments of doubt consumed me, where I felt embarrassed with myself for posting what I had been posting, that the characters I’ve constructed are too far beyond anything anyone could relate to, and that I was delusional to think at times that my efforts had any merit at all. That everything was much lower quality than I allowed myself to see. These feelings, at times, weighed on me heavily. I do think that given what I’ve learned, I’d be able to do better. That what I’ve produced (especially the early bits) could be better. I also had a lot of trouble finding my audience, and ultimately... never did.
Regardless however, I kept going. Regardless of my work's perceived worth, Regardless of my perception of how others might be perceiving my work’s worth. I developed my own connection to the narrative, as well as with the characters. I literally cared for them. The story just didn’t feel complete, and I felt it would be a great disservice to the characters I’ve constructed, as well as to myself, to just give up. I had invested feelings into this world, and regardless of where my headspace could be at times, I just couldn’t bring myself to end things unless this “ending” felt organic. The numbers were secondary.
I think if creators invest too much emotion into the numbers, if their project doesn’t set off, overtime, the probability of throwing in the towel becomes heightened. If it does set off, the numbers will continue to motivate them, but their content MAY lack “soul”. If one has invested
feelings into the world they’ve constructed, and the characters who inhabit it....the probability that they will continue venturing forth is heightened, increasing the chance of it eventually taking off. Not to say that it WILL take off, it's possible it never will. One has to accept this potential, and PROBABLE eventuality. Each creative endeavor is a mere drop within the ocean that is the world wide web.
When questioning whether my work has been a flat out failure or not, I would say I’ve both failed and succeeded.
The smaller part of me that wants to focus on numbers/engagement, sees my work as a failure. I wasn’t able to connect the narrative with others. Perhaps my messages are too muddled within all that’s going on (because there’s a lot), and it’s harder to relate to. Who knows... I have spent more time than what is healthy thinking about this, but ultimately... All I can do is learn from past mistakes. I’ve always wanted constructive criticism from others, to grow from, as learning from mistakes solo can be a challenge. There’s a lot of cognitive pressure having to rely on myself to note where all improvements can be made, while also fundamentally impossible. The only one challenging my cognitions has been myself. This restricts insight greatly. Thus, it would have been nice to have garnered enough of an audience, to serve as the narrative’s mirror. Through perspectives of others and how they connect with everything, I wanted to be able to make everything much stronger. The entire process, even though I had that small twitter following, felt very isolated and in the dark. I had no one to bounce ideas off of. Even my friend who helped a tiny bit, couldn’t possibly understand due to the steep language barrier between us.
However, the bulk of me is rather proud of myself. To have stepped outside comfort, diving into all this new technology, social media, acting, planning and editing video, etc. I learned a lot more about myself in the process. It was a LOT of work, much more than I imagined going into it, but I found that once I started, I’d be able to sit there focused for 8, 10, 12 hours in a single sitting. This is very unusual for me. I generally get bored easily, and act in very typical “attention deficit” ways. I grew to enjoy everything I was exploring, as well as getting to know these characters my brain conceived. I think the process also kept me sane in a period of time in my life, where I was feeling increasingly isolated as a Canadian living in rural Japan. I’m really happy to have picked up some new skills, and feel I have grown so much in the process. Thus, on a personal level, I feel quite successful. And as weird as it may sound, the characters I’ve constructed (mainly Nitsud), have each taught me something as well. I don’t think this is something easily understandable unless one experiences it, so I won’t attempt an explanation.
But these characters have in some small way become a part of me. Perhaps this is how I’ve been able to continue forward for literal years, constructing all the content I have. This spark within me, this urge to tell a story, is much more powerful than the dopamine release followers and likes might warrant.
In the end, was all the effort worth it? Absolutely.
Hardware and Software Used
● Some cheap $60-ish Victure action camera
● Amazon fire tablet
● Canon G7X Mark 2
● Camera from whatever phone I had at the time
● A windows video editor program (Just for the first Nitsud video)
● Some free sonification program I downloaded
● I also used text-to-speech and morse code generating websites
● Some random audio-related apps on my phone
● Nick's “how to make a web series” videos came in handy as guidance
○ The Ascension Mysteries (David Wilcock)
○ Gods of Aquarius (Brad Steiger)
○ The Future of Humanity (Michio Kaku)
○ How to win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
■ Books not related to narrative but in preparation for my bike journey in Dustin TheWind (which I somehow feel is worth mentioning)
● To Wake the Sleeping Self (Jedidiah Jenkins)
● Bicycling the Pacific Coast: A Complete Route Quide (Tom Kirkendall & Vicky Spring)
○ Regarding DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), I watched a shit ton of videos. Some that I recall come from Anthony Padillia
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek7JK6pattE), DissocialDID’s channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6kFD5xIFvWyLlytv5pTR1w), as well as much more which I can’t firmly recall.
○ I watched many videos regarding shadow people, “that man” (although not enough, as I wasn’t aware that “that man” was a marketing ploy), as well as many MANY tutorials on using specific softwares (Various software mentioned above), and on cults/how leaders attract their followers.
○ Additionally, I watched a bunch of videos on forming story, characters, plot, setting, relationships, metaphor, symbolism etc. as well as a tiny bit on acting.
● I also made an account on www.warmshowers.org, and began hosting travelling cyclists passing through Japan at my place for various reasons, one reason being to gather insight regarding general cycling, as I planned to cycle America’s west coast, but had never done anything like it before.
● I had a lot of prior knowledge as I studied social sciences (social work and psychology), took a few writing courses in the past, and had personal experience within various mental health environments
● Additionally, I made a lot of minor purchases on clothing, props, paints, makeup, custom stickers & pins, etc.
● Oh, and I had a friend teach me how to use Instagram