Making The Ming Thing
Posted on August 27, 2013
The Ming Thing is a popular YouTube channel that features a group of Malaysian talents, mostly making lighthearted videos about the funny side of life.
Who’s the creative mastermind behind all this? Twenty-four-year-old writer, director and producer Ho Ming Han, from Selangor, more popularly known by his online moniker, Ming.
He actually started YouTube-ing to promote his own music, back when he was still in university. Starting off with sporadic video postings every few months, his YouTube channel suddenly took off in early 2012 — inspiring him to concentrate fulltime on this social media venture after completing his studies this year.
Perhaps you might have even seen a few of his comical YouTube clips trending on your Facebook wall: “If Asians Made Burgers”, “12 Types of Love Confessions” (by Dan Khoo Productions), “Shit Boyfriends Say”, and the more recent “If Hashtags Were A Language”. His most epic production so far, though, is a romantic mini-series called “This Is Why”, about how a shy young man finds the courage to tell a pretty girl that he likes her.
We invite Ming to explain what it takes to make a living as a young YouTuber in Malaysia.
THE MAKING OF A YOUTUBER
Any professional training in making YouTube videos?
Haha, absolutely none. I studied Psychology in university. Everything else I taught myself by just watching and trying to emulate what I’ve seen really good directors/YouTubers do. I’m more in charge of writing and directing. So most of my time is spent zoning-out. I just sit around or go about doing things and when inspiration hits, I start writing. My main tool = my brain, my pencil/pen/laptop and my notebook.
How did you get started making your first video?
I used my laptop’s video recording application and put it together with iMovie. And that was it.
What are your three most popular videos so far, and why?
By popular, I’m defining it as “most viewed”. Those would be “Shit Boyfriends Say”, “Alone, Forever?” and “Things I Hate About Her”. Why? I have absolutely no idea. I guess when I read through the comments on the videos, it’s because people feel in those videos something that they can relate to, be it a comedic moment or something that struck deeper.
What has been your most interesting experience to date?
Well, I might say it would be having to wear a dress. I was absolutely NOT informed about it until I arrived on set for that particular collaboration video. It’s called “In Her Shoes”, by my Singaporean friends and talented YouTubers, Wah! Banana.
What has been your most difficult video to date?
The most difficult would probably be our web-series project, “This Is Why”. It took a really long time to write and plan. And a huge deal of effort to shoot and an even longer time to edit and finish up. But I loved every moment of it.
What is the biggest misconception about you or the YouTube work that you do?
Haha, that it’s “easy”. It definitely looks like fun and games when the video is up and running, but nobody really understands the amount of work that has to be put in before it goes online.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Could you introduce some of your fellow YouTubers that you collaborate with?
My friends Raffi and Bryan are the videographers, I really couldn’t have done this without them. They help me translate all my ideas into the videos that you see. They contacted me after watching a few of my earlier videos, we decided to shoot something together, and the rest is history. I also collaborate with my friend Dan (DanKhooProductions), and other people closest to me would be the channels GRIMFILM, JinnyboyTV and JosephGermani.
How did you guys get together?
We made enough noise to attract each other and figure out we all exist.
Ho Ming Yue stars in a number of your videos. Are you related?
He’s my younger brother!
How do you guys raise funds to make videos?
Usually, everything you see is paid for out of my own pocket. It’s all passion, and because I want to see the fulfillment of that passion, I’m willing to pay for it. I keep things on YouTube personal, as much as I can. I try not to get external funding (ad placements, sponsors, etc). But I do realize for upcoming videos and projects in the future, I am going to require more funding than I can supply. So I guess that will come from sponsorships, companies who are willing to produce our videos for us, so on and so forth.
How do you recruit your crew members? Is there a ready pool available in Malaysia?
I have no idea how we do it actually. Till today, people have just … appeared? I’m very blessed to be able to get to know people through my videos that have been put out. They attracted attention and before I knew it, I had a bunch of passionate people I could call my team and my friends. There are always talents available in Malaysia, but for the YouTube scene, the pool is very new. The whole scene is still young and growing.
How do you use social media for building and growing your audience? Besides just posting the videos.
Well, that’s actually been one of my worst abilities: managing social media. It was the number one thing I struggled with since the start. But I’ve slowly learned how to use it a bit better. What I think I can use it for is to create not just an audience that enjoys a laugh or a cry, but to form a relationship with them. I love that everything is fast: responses, feedback, encouragement and criticism. Communicating via these platforms doesn’t just grow the audience, in turn they “grow” me to be better. Its an unending, exponentially-growing circle.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
What has been the response from your fellow Malaysians so far?
Malaysians are really supportive. I’ve never marketed myself in a “Hey, I’m Malaysian. Support me I’m local!” kind of way. So I really enjoyed how people didn’t expect our team to be Malaysian, until we revealed it. Its good! Its proof that hey, we can do something good. We get a lot of feedback that people think we’re Asian Americans, or we’re not local. And I think the response grows positively when we tell them who we are.
How do you think your work affects your community?
Well, I love giving people a good laugh to brighten up their day. But for more serious or personal scripts, I hope I can spread some sort of goodwill or share my perspective on what I see life to be and hopefully, I hope that rubs off as something positive for society.
What is the future for YouTubers like yourself?
Honestly, I can’t even see what tomorrow will be. Haha! But I hope that we’re able to pave a way for more YouTubers in Malaysia. Hopefully, we earn some sort of acknowledgement from the local media industry that we are sturdy and will be around. Who knows? It could be a full-time job for more people eventually!
What inspires or motivates you?
Almost anything strong enough to make me think twice about it.
What’s your biggest ambition?
I would love to produce feature films and TV content one day!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a popular YouTuber too?
Never aim to be popular. Popularity and fame should be a by-product of the real focus: making good content. And to make good content, keep doing what you do and keep getting better at it.
In your opinion, does this look like a viable career option?
Well, at the moment it’s paying the bills!