David Patterson, 13′ (College of Arts & Sciences), arrived at Regent hoping to work for a Hollywood studio and make an impression on a few executives. He graduated and is now working for himself, succeeding on his own, and entertaining hundreds of thousands out of his home. Taking a less traditional route, he’s combined his love for cars and cinema, and is earning a living documenting his driving.
“I originally went to Regent to work for Hollywood. Then I did the exercises, being on set, where people collaborated and everything else. Then I realized, oh no, I’m two years into this and it’s not for me. What do I do? I’m in my little Commons dorm room on YouTube, and then I started seeing these people doing this full time.”
If you spend any amount of time on YouTube, and you like to watch car reviews, chances are, you’re familiar with ThatDudeinBlue and his famous 2013 grabber blue Mustang, “Smurf.” More than 360,000 people subscribe to his channel to watch his videos on a regular basis. To put this in perspective, Chevy’s YouTube channel draws 350,000. It’s the result of a risk David Patterson decisively took while he was still a student at Regent.
“I’ve always watched YouTube since I was a little kid,” said Patterson. “How are people doing this as a job? I didn’t understand. I pitched the idea out to a few professors and a few other students who were like, ‘You’re crazy. No. Just go, move to Santa Monica. Do that instead.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to try it anyway.’ Right after that I was in a pop-culture class and the topic was YouTube and how it’s growing so fast and how you can get so much publicity so quickly. I was sold instantly. I decided I was doing this full time as soon as I graduate.”
After walking across the graduation stage, Patterson threw off his cap and gown and shot his first video. He played around with several channel concepts, but it wasn’t until his curiosity for cars drove him to discover a subject that stuck.
“Every weekend I was going to car events and Cars and Coffee,” said Patterson. “All of these things where my best friends were, and I thought, why don’t I try making a car video? Why not? Let’s see what happens.”
He ordered a suction-cup off of Amazon, stuck it on his window and reviewed his 2006 Mustang.
“I put the video up on the Internet,” said Patterson. “Thirty thousand views later I knew I was onto something.”
Patterson worked for free until his channel grew and cash from YouTube started funneling in. New subscribers provide him with an endless selection of rides to review. He’s stayed with that model of sourcing, although his popularity has peaked interest of automobile manufacturers who have offered him press cars.
“I’ve done things from YouTube that I never would have been able to do if I took the regular, orthodox path,” said Patterson. “I went overseas for the first time. I’ve been across the country twice. I ended up doing a road trip recently with all of the people I used to watch on YouTube when I was 18 years old.”
Titled “Adventure Drives,” the road trip series shows off spectacular sites out west like Arches National Park, Zion National Park, Park City, Yosemite and Nappa Valley, all from the cockpits of exotic supercars driven by automotive journalists and other YouTube car vloggers.
ThatDudeinBlue’s variety of video content continues to broaden as Patterson has stepped out of the driver’s seat and gone under the hood. He’s working on a 1990 Nissan 240SX S13 hatch, vlogging each step of the rebuild process.
“The Nissan 240SX is a very popular car on the Internet,” said Patterson. “It’s an import, so that’ll bring more people into my channel because as soon as they see me drive a Mustang, they shoo away.”
The 240 S-X is scheduled to be completed sometime in the spring. The finished product will be painted to match the Mustang, renown with its grabber blue body. Patterson does not consider himself to be famous, although he says it’s not uncommon for people to recognize him in public. His channel’s 443 videos have received more than 49 million views. His goal is to reach 500 thousand subscribers by the end of the year. He’s partnered with Beverly Hills-based studio Collective Digital, and says he’s open to deals with Netflix or Hulu.
“I’m trying to branch my horizons out,” said Patterson. “But I’ll probably always somehow do YouTube or Internet streaming, and I’m completely content with that.”
He branches out by planning and publishing several new car vlogs or reviews each week and keeps content staying loyal to the fanbase that made him popular in the first place.