Story: Weird Paul was a vlogger decades before such a thing existed, filming himself since he was 13 years old as he performed skits, opened products, and unleashed his special brand of music. Of course, at the time there was little he could do to get his content into the hands of potential viewers, but all that changed when the internet blossomed. Via YouTube, Weird Paul was able to share his decades of content with the entire world and he was praised for his innovative methods, many of which would be used by countless other vloggers and content creators. In addition to posting his countless hours of vintage footage, Paul branched out into new content as well and focused on his music, which he hoped would make him rich and famous. But can Paul turn his vast creating experiences into the stardom he seeks or is he chasing windmills?
Entertainment Value: If you’re like me and appreciate documentaries about colorful personalities, then Will Work for Views is likely to entertain. Weird Paul is indeed a weird character with an odd lifestyle, as he devotes every minute to social media and content creation. He works at Spencer’s, but even while at work he spends every second of his breaks to check social media or answer comments, since he has to answer every single comment someone leaves. The documentary opens with a look into Paul’s past and it is a wild story, as this dude has been filming since he was 13 and much like the documentary says, his work was similar to what YouTube stars do now, just before the internet. He would tell cornball jokes, show off his toys or new acquisitions, shoot short films with his friends and family, and just talk to the camera, with all kinds of other content wedged in there. Of course, this was all before the internet was around and the center of our world, so Paul didn’t have ways to let the wider world see his videos, though he did keep right on filming new content. With the dawn of the internet and YouTube however, Paul finally had the platform he needed to become a star, right?
Once we move into the more recent, post YouTube phase of Weird Paul’s creation process, the movie shifts a little, into a not always pleasant atmosphere. Paul is candid that he has let his personal relationships diminish in order to focus on constant social media presence and always making new content for his YouTube channel. I wouldn’t call that an upbeat approach even if Paul was a world wide star and raking in cash from his efforts, but watching him struggle with his lack of success, knowing what it has cost him, can be a little depressing to take in. His son is one victim of his dedication to YouTube and stardom, though he has directed some of Paul’s music videos and even gotten him to shoot in HD, rather than on old VHS tapes. His music is given a lot of time in this picture, including a trip to Hollywood that would be a sober wake up call for most, but Paul is undaunted and pushes on, even as other aspects of his life start to collapse around him. I appreciated Will Work for Views as a profile on a colorful, memorable person, but the movie can be a downer at times, so don’t expect a chipper, always upbeat tone here.