Beyond YouTube: Freddie Wong honored with Trailblazer award

The creative genius behind RocketJump shares his thoughts on being his own boss and why he has no plans to go linear.
August 17, 2015

Unlike many of his millennial-generation peers, Freddie Wong’s not about to complain about the economic or social climate he was born into.

In fact, the 29-year-old YouTuber and founder of the YouTube channel and content-creation team RocketJump believes he is exactly where he needs to be, at the exact right time in history.

“We (the RocketJump team) have actually all looked at each other and said, ‘Thank God we’re alive right now,'” Wong told StreamDaily in a recent interview“If we had been born even five years earlier, none of this would have been possible.”

By “this,” he means his RocketJump’s access to cutting-edge video capturing and editing technology, a plethora of distribution platforms and financial supporters who are actually interested in putting their money in digital.

“We’re very fortunate that the growth of the industry has coincided with the growth of our careers,” said Wong.

Those careers were launched in 2009 when Wong (who already possessed a small following from his days on the competitive video game circuit) co-founded RocketJump as a YouTube channel with friends Matthew Arnold and Dez Dolly. Since then, the team has expanded to a full digital studio, creating content on YouTube (including its wildly successful series Video Game High School) and other platforms (including an upcoming series on Hulu and its own online “film school” with tutorials for aspiring filmmakers).

With a career trajectory like that, it should come as no surprise that Wong was recently honored with a Trailblazer award at the HollyShorts film festival, underway in L.A from Aug. 13  to Aug. 22. The award, in its first year, recognizes an artist’s achievements over the length of their career (other honorees this year included linear legends Eli Roth and David Lynch).

Despite the busy schedule, Wong remains grounded and humble in the wake of soaring success. He seems particularly careful to always acknowledge the group effort behind RocketJump, never once answering a question with “I” statements. It’s always “we.”

“We’re always working as a team,” said Wong. “We spend most of our days either making movies or in dark rooms staring at computer screens.”

Wong said getting to be his own boss is quite the thrill, noting that, throughout film history, that opportunity is “incredibly rare.”

“We’re making TV and we’re making movies without having to worry about pleasing anyone else,” he said.

The Freddie Wong and RocketJump brand is undoubtedly powerful, but Wong said he and his team must still pitch ideas to producers as they did when they started six years ago. With 1.2 billion views on YouTube to the RocketJump channel, Wong did acknowledge that it’s much easier to get the right people to listen.

“We’re living in a world right now where view count is a measure of your value,” said Wong.

He was quick to add that the RocketJump team has always cared foremost about making content that they themselves would enjoy: “It’s never been about, ‘oh, we have to go get those millennials, they’re our target audience.’ We make what we like, and that happens to attract a group that’s about high school age to mid-20s.”

Wong is hoping for that same success with upcoming digital series RocketJump: The Show, set to debut on Hulu in October. The show is a documentary series that takes viewers behind the scenes at RocketJump.

When asked if he felt any desire to branch out to linear television, Wong said no.

“What we’re doing on Hulu is basically like linear,” he said. “If you can watch a show, whether it’s on Hulu or on Netflix, and full-screen it to your TV or computer monitor, then that’s what works for you.”

RocketJump is currently with Collective Digital Studio and recently signed with the WME Agency.

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