BY TYLER REYNOLDS
As of 2017, over 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and over 5 billion videos are watched per day. With the number of people watching daily, YouTube has attracted thousands of content creators, ranging from horror dramas to slime artists, eager to share their work.
Soursalt is a paranormal horror web series with puzzle-solving elements that began uploading in October 2016 and is created by Michael, known on the Internet as DeathlyLogic. What makes Soursalt stand out is that it started off with 600 YouTube subscribers who all didn’t know how they found themselves subscribed to it.
The series consists of the footage of the misadventures of Aiden, Dustin, and Garrett as they film a ghost hunting show, before encountering supernatural forces. All of it is presented by Andrew Sheffield, a third party that is uploading their footage and trying to make sense of it for viewers.
“It’s a story that I’ve wanted to tell for a while to a large audience, based around a large audience,” said Michael.
When trying to be creative, inspiration can come from anywhere. For Soursalt, Michael had an oddly appropriate experience.
“I had a series of dreams that I wrote down one week because I had terrible nightmares,” said Michael. “With each dream that I wrote down I found ways to connect them and eventually after six or seven dreams I was like ‘I can make this into a web series’.”
Also working with Michael is his friend Zac, who is known as ControlZero. He was originally one of the 600 YouTube users who found themselves subscribed to the Soursalt channel. After getting to know Michael, he became a consultant and co-creator to make the series more casual-friendly. Zac is also a writer that has recently started a new series titled The Graveyard Shift.
“You gotta keep in mind how much work your audience has to put in,” said Zac. “For those 5% of puzzle solvers that’s fine, but when you’re lazy like me you kind of just want to sit down and watch something and maybe occasionally read a text card or scroll down for a description once in a few videos.”
In addition to the struggles faced when creating independent projects, they also have to deal with setbacks from using YouTube as a platform to host their content. Michael had one of his channels completely removed – a channel that had been hosting his series Handprints for three years,
“I woke up in one day in December with an email from YouTube saying: ‘Your channel has received too many strikes and your account was terminated’,” said Michael.
A strike is what a YouTube channel receives when another user reports their channel for breaking its community guidelines. Examples of this are videos that contain nudity or sexual content, violent or graphic content, harmful or dangerous content, and spam.
While this normally wouldn’t be an issue, it has become one because not only can anyone flag a channel for these issues, but bigger YouTube creators often, if not always, evade penalties for similar violations. This has caused many smaller channels to ask YouTube for fairer standards in regards to its judgment
Despite Michael’s attempts at proving his ownership of the series, and that the content in the series was fake, he was unable to get the channel reinstated.
“I’m lucky that people liked it enough to archive it but besides that, the entire channel was just destroyed. That’s the fear I have with Soursalt, because if someone could do that to one of my channels, what’s stopping them from doing it to more?”
Even throughout setbacks like these, Michael and Zac are still being positive and are making more content for the Soursalt channel. At the time of writing, the third part of the series had recently begun and is still uploading daily. In addition, Michael and Zac are also engaging the horror web series community by helping out beginner web series creators with advice.
“If you want to go make something, don’t be afraid to start out with what you have,” said Michael. “You’ll never be able to make your magnum opus just picking up a camera one day – you really have to work to it. If you’re not capable of doing your one hundred percent with a certain idea, don’t be afraid of downplaying it to a fifty percent with a slightly modified idea.”
“Don’t give up on it because then you’re going to regret it,” said Zac. “Keep going though different attempts till you find what suits your idea the best. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people for critiques on it or their general opinions because that’s how you grow.”