Whatever Happened To ... YouTube star Brandon Hardesty?
Brandon Hardesty is learning that YouTube success is not an easy ticket to television or movie stardom.
Three years ago, Brandon, then 19, was a grocery clerk and college student living in his parents' Baltimore home. He logged on to YouTube regularly to upload videos of himself reenacting movie scenes and making goofy faces.
Those disarming antics snowballed into a somewhat lucrative career, as chronicled in a May 2009 Magazine article by April Witt. YouTube invited him to place ads on his videos and share the revenue (one month, he made about $1,500); he also landed supporting roles in films, including an "American Pie" sequel and an upcoming Adam Sandler flick scheduled to hit theaters Labor Day.
By the time the article was published, Brandon had already moved to Los Angeles. After filming his movies, he started collecting unemployment at the urging of his manager so he could focus on auditions. The last several months, there were very few auditions, Brandon says. But in February, the pace picked up because of pilot season.
Brandon is also working on a second draft of a script with one of his "American Pie" co-stars. He was thrilled to have the first draft copyrighted through the Writers Guild last October.
Between writing, auditioning and learning to navigate Los Angeles, Brandon hasn't had much time for what got him there: filming videos. He posted a remake of a scene from the first "American Pie" in December to coincide with the straight-to-DVD release of the sequel, and he knows what he'd like to tackle next: a Robert Shaw monologue from "Jaws."
The revenue from his 120-plus YouTube uploads continues to roll in, however. "It settled at a really good amount, enough to pay [his share of] rent ... about $800 to $900 a month," Brandon says. Today, he has more than 90,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel and more than 33.5 million total upload views.
Though his lifestyle can be slow, Brandon has few qualms with it. "Hollywood is pretty much as people told me," he says. "Be patient, you're not going to get a job right away, and audition as much as you can."