The ‘best kept secret’ of the School of Theatre, Film and Television
On YouTube, Darious Britt is known as D4Darious, the face of an educational “lifestyle channel for filmmaking, only without the hands-on,” in his own words. In the film community, he is the filmmaker, writer, director and an actor in the award-winning “Unsound” and several other short films.
At the University of Arizona, he is the assistant coordinator at the Media Arts Production Laboratory of the School of Theatre, Film and Television, his alma mater.
“I’ve described [Britt] as ‘the best kept secret in the School of Theatre, Film and Television,’” said Dan Brock, Britt’s coworker at the laboratory. “That’s about to change, as he’s going more public.”
Britt first burst onto the internet after investing $40,000 in a feature film, “Seafood Tester” (2012). Now, D4Darious has 379,000 subscribers. He sometimes vlogs, but most of his YouTube uploads consist of educational videos for other filmmakers.
“I would say, of all the types of content, the most fulfilling is being able to help other people and to find shortcuts to the top of success,” Britt said.
Britt, who graduated from the UA in 2012, has achieved great success.
On top of his rapidly growing YouTube channel and a collection of shorts in his repertoire, Britt is known for his production of “Unsound,” a dramatic feature film about a mother and son that won him best director at the Pan African Film Festival in 2015.
“It’s been excellent. It’s been inspiring to me and I’ve seen it been inspiring to others,” Brock said about watching Britt grow into his own achievements.
But Britt recognizes that his tastes and his talents improve and evolve with every day. He doesn’t attribute his success to talent, but to experience.
On Tuesday, Jan. 28, Britt gave a talk, “Personal Branding: Thriving in the Era of Social Media,” as part of the School of Theatre, Film and Television’s Day for Night talk series. On the subject of building a brand, Britt finds that it is not the major achievements that make someone a success but the expertise of their craft.
“I’m a firm believer that if you master the craft, … you don’t have to chase success, success finds you,” Britt said. “I think when starting off, we have this tendency to put all of our eggs in one basket and think that this one thing will be my flagship to open up all doors. … What you are going to realize is it is not the big things you do that open the doors, it’s the small ones. It’s the details.”
In drama, sci-fi, horror and thriller dramas, Britt found his niche. He leans more toward the dramatic.
“Comedy, I’m terrible at,” Britt said. “I just don’t have a funny bone in my body, when it comes to making films, but I think right now, I am more interested in simple stories well-told.”
Britt first fell in love with filmmaking after watching “Possession,” a French and German 1981 psychological-horror drama.
“I was absolutely fascinated by it, what they were able to pull off,” Britt said of the film. “It was so personalized, so intimate, yet crazy violent. It was just like, ‘Wow, I can’t even believe I’m seeing this, blood everywhere, it was just nuts.’”
“Possession” was the movie that propelled Britt away from his dream of illustration and toward filmmaking. According to Britt, he realized he simply wasn’t “wired” the same way studio artists are and honestly enjoyed the storytelling aspect of films more.
In film school, he found his calling.
“I volunteered for my first set at [the UA] before I attended the film program and fell in love with the artifice of it — all of the fake things that you have to do to make something look real,” Britt said. “And it was just a wreck from there.”
Six years after first seeing “Possession,” he returned to the movie with a college education under his belt. He was less than impressed.
“What did I ever see in that thing? This is awful, this is self-indulgent crap,” Britt said. “So, it’s funny to say that the movie that kicked off my passion to want to do the film thing was actually kind of a bad movie.”
In the early days of their careers, many creators strive to make that “big thing” that will make them successful, and even Britt admitted to being guilty of thinking this. But really, he said, success only comes to those who know what they’re doing. Britt puts his craft over his achievements, because “the craft allows me to do what I do.”
This is what Britt wanted to emphasize to the audience on Tuesday: The magic is in the experience.
“Champions are not champions because they’re brilliant, they’re champions because they’re brilliant at the little things, and that’s something I hope to share with the audience,” Britt said. “There is something precious about any one piece of work, and at the end of the day, whatever I do today will never be as good as two years from now.”
According to Brock, Britt’s expertise in filmmaking is not only what makes him a good filmmaker, but what makes him a good teacher — both online and on campus.
“[Britt’s experience in filmmaking and on YouTube] makes him very much aware of what’s going on in the film world and how best to use equipment,” Brock said. “This gets shared with the students in the film program.”
According to Brock, most people at the UA didn’t really know about Britt’s large following and accomplishments, a camouflaged expert in the field. Following Britt’s talk for the School of Theatre, Film and Television, Brock expects his “best kept secret” to not be so secret anymore.
“I certainly think [the talk] is definitely going to make him much more visible locally as a figure in the world of independent filmmaking,” Brock said.
For film students and those people trying to make it in the industry, this was the best piece of advice Britt had to offer:
“Start small and work your way up. There is so much out there that you can’t afford to wait for things like actors and a crew and money. You have to always be creating. Small tweaks make big peaks.”