Not many of us get to tick off ‘sailing around the world’ off our dream to-do list. But our guests today, Brady Trautman and partner, Alex Blue, have been living their ultimate best life at sea for the last ten-plus years while creating video content for their business, Cruisers Academy.
The adventure began with Florida natives Brady and his older brother, Brain, with whom he initially started the youtube channel, Sailing Vessel Delos, back in 2008. It wasn’t until 2012 they received their first check from Youtube, which was basically ‘bear money.’ Soon after, they joined Patreon.
Eight sailors, filmmakers, and adventurers pile into a 48 ft sailboat with the goal of exploring and capturing the beauty of Svalbard, the northernmost settlement in the world, only 600 miles from the North Pole. The sailing expedition brings 24 hours of sunlight, dangerous glacial ice flows, and up-close encounters with polar bears, beluga whales, walrus’ and much more! After 2.5 years of post-production and over 2000 hours of editing, it’s time to bring YOU our biggest project yet!
Alex, a media student running her film and photo company shooting on party boats across South America, joined the Delox crew in 2017 on a sail across the Atlantic to South Africa.
Alex’s valuable skills helped tell their story of adventure and friendships, dreams more skillfully.
SV Delos has sailed 45 countries and over 70,000 ocean miles since 2008.
Ever wondered what goes into making a documentary series? Well here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how the 80 North Series was created! Andy Schell invited us to be on his podcast which was the perfect opportunity to film the chat, share some sneak peeks, and relive funny stories from our sailing expedition in the Arctic Circle.
Finding your niche in the film or creative space, in general, can be a struggle, especially since it is becoming more and more competitive by the second. But the Delos crew modeled their business to service a niche audience and have created multiple revenue streams from sailing around the world and doing what everybody wants to do.
Due to the COVID pandemic, Alex and Brady have halted sailing for over a year now. They have had to adjust production strategy by outsourcing editing and diversifying their output.
Six months ago, the couple, along with a business partner, Sean, launched the Cruisers Academy—offering sailing lessons, charters, and they released a four-part docu-series, 80° North. It is a compilation of two years worth of videos honoring the beauty of the sea and their journeys.
Enjoy my fun conversation with Brady Trautman and Alex Blue.
Alex Ferrari 0:08
I like to welcome the show Brady Troutman and Alex, how are you guys doing?
Brady Trautman 0:15
Good. Thanks for having us on the show today.
Alex Ferrari 0:17
I said it right right. I said the name right.
Brady Trautman 0:19
Alex Ferrari 0:21
For a second I went, did I say the wrong name again. It's been a long day, guys. I apologize. Hi, guys. How are you guys doing, man? Thanks so much for being on the show.
Brady Trautman 0:32
Yeah, we're doing good. We're, we're currently in Lake Tahoe and California. And the seasons are transitioning from spring to summer. So we're kind of in in a really good spot and excited for the summer in the lake.
Alex Ferrari 0:43
So very tough life is what you're saying? Very tough life.
Brady Trautman 0:46
Alex Ferrari 0:47
Brady Trautman 0:47
Alex Ferrari 0:48
Brady Trautman 0:48
Alex Ferrari 0:49
So, It's rough out there. It's rough out there in Lake Tahoe, the main streets of Lake Tahoe. It's tough.
Brady Trautman 0:53
Yeah. Pretty bad, actually. But
Alex Ferrari 0:57
Brady Trautman 0:59
Alex Ferrari 1:01
So, um, I want to get you guys on the show. Because you've had you, I've had other you know, youtubers on the show, and other people who kind of use this futurpreneur method. Not specifically that you use it for me. But you might have modeled it after some, someone like yourselves, who do that kind of like building content and creating multiple revenue streams and servicing a niche audience and all that kind of stuff. But you're very, you have never really kind of spoken to anyone with a niche like yours, which is boating. And I want you to explain a little bit more. But how did you guys leave the normal world and go straight into like boating around the world and just following basically doing what everybody wants to do other than like, going off and joining the circus? I think basically swit sailing around the world essentially would be on the top of people's like, dream to do list. So how did you guys go, I'm assuming you didn't just come out of the womb like that. Got your boat at five and just kept going? From what I read. You guys started in the normal world and said, You know, I'm tired. So can you tell us how you got in there?
Brady Trautman 2:06
Yeah, for sure. I guess I'll start first because Alex joined the journey a little bit later on. And she had her own journey before we met. So I grew up in Orlando, Florida, and I was going to college there. And my brother at the time was up in Seattle, Washington. He's 10 years older than me. And he had a web design company that basically he left it. And we were both getting into sailing at the same time. So neither of our parents were into sailing, we didn't grew up sailing. But we were both getting into sailing at the same time. He was 32. And I was 22. And we ended up getting a 53 foot sailboat. And the plan was to basically hang out Mexico for a little bit, and maybe eventually cross into the South Pacific and go to Tahiti, because it was just like an incredibly big dream. And so that happened, I had one semester left of college, and we made a decision that we were going to leave Mexico and sail out into the South Pacific. And I took out all my student loans that I could sign up for as many classes as I could took out all my student loans and then dropped all the classes and figured I'd use my student loans to go to university of life, I guess. Wow. So yeah, that was that was in 2010. And I was only supposed to help him because he was kind of a little bit in a better financial position to travel long term than I was at the time. So I was supposed to help him for like three weeks, the passage from Mexico to the mark cases was about three weeks long. And we got the mark cases. And they were like, oh, a couple more months. I'll say a couple more months. And then we got to Tahiti, and it was a couple more months and then yeah, that eventually turned into 10 years and a circumnavigation so that that's kind of the the journey and then along the way, a lot of things happened, you know, are we ran out of money a lot, of course, but our family and friends we had a blog and photos, but it wasn't enough for our family and friends. They were always just still like, What the fuck are you guys doing? Like, I don't get it? Like, are you camping? Or got a motorboat? Like does your boat have an engine? It's a sailboat, but just people didn't really understand. So we just started filming our journey, little clips at a time and uploading small short videos to YouTube. The first videos were even like pictures with music behind them. So they were just complete like family slideshow kind of things. Which is great. Our family loved it. But then as we started to film and progress, other people started watching. And it was kind of at a really interesting time in YouTube where it was new and fresh. And it wasn't like click Beatty. It wasn't really you didn't have to try as hard if you had good content. It got put in front of people naturally I think so yeah, people kept watching and we eventually saw that there was a opportunity to make like a full on production from it. And keep filming and keep sailing and and yeah, here we are now.
Alex Ferrari 4:54
And Alex How did you leave the normal world enjoy this psychic, psychotic pirate on his Island
Alex Blue 5:02
Well, I got pretty lucky Actually, I don't know if I ever quite entered the normal world. Nice play. Yeah. In in college, I started Yeah, I was studying like media. And so I started my own film and photo company and got basically what the goal of wanting to travel I had this random dream I don't know where I got it from, but I really wanted to work in Central and South America with my camera. So pretty much once I graduated, I made my way down there and was able to get paid pay my way with my camera. And one summer I ended up on in Colombia, and I got offered a position on a sailboat that sailed between Cartagena, Colombia and San Blas islands, Panama. And so I lived aboard this 5052 foot catamaran for a summer and we would take like 20 backpackers from Panama, spent five days in San Blas Salem to Cartagena and then have a couple days pick up 20 more backpackers from Colombia sailing back to Panama. And anyone that's ever been on a 52 foot sailboat will understand how ridiculous it is to have 20 plus people sleeping on a boat like not just people but backpackers. Yeah. So it was pretty much a big party. But it was beautiful. I mean, yeah, I slept outside every single night in the hammock for the entire summer and pretty much fell in love with living on a boat and started to see other people on boats to at the anchorages and realized that people were living on their boats and that cruise cruisers were a category of people that I have come to know a lot about and become one myself. But yeah, pretty much after that came back to Tahoe for a winter. And then a sailing friend of mine sent me a Delos episode on the YouTube channel and said, Hey, I think you'll like this. So I gave it a watch. And they were Yes, sailing, scuba diving, which I had also been getting into and filming, which is pretty much all the things that my life revolved around as well. So I just sent them a random email. And they actually now in retrospect, I know that they get, you know, I don't know, probably 1000 of those a year or something like that if people didn't want to join through with them. But for whatever reason, luck was on my side and Brady's older brother Brian caught the email and said, cool. If you want to be in Africa and South Africa in two weeks, then you can cross the Atlantic with us. So I just went again, I didn't have to like quit a job and sell my house or anything. a transitional phase. Yeah, I already worked for myself. And I was just floating around anyways. So what I did there, and then within like a month we were we were dating and yeah, I like to say our first date was crossing the South Atlantic.
Brady Trautman 7:47
Alex Ferrari 7:48
Yes, it's very intense. I'm imagining it's an intense first date, to say the least
Brady Trautman 7:53
I was I was away, I was away at a wedding. And my brother called me He's like, hey, this guy, Alex, he's a videographer. He's a sailor. And like, you know, we're looking for crude to go from South Africa to Brazil. Like, what do you think, man? And then we had we had a video call like Alex isnt, a dude. Perfect. guy was good here in a week and a half. And she made the decision. And then yeah, we were we sailed on that book for three and a half years together before we moved to town.
Alex Ferrari 8:21
You know, it's, it's, it's insane. Because I love the way you guys talk about these trips, like, it's, it's just like, I'm going down to get a cup of coffee, like we're going to just going across the Atlantic, or I just want to go to Tahiti, you know, in going into the South Pacific, like when I think of the South Pacific, all I think about is just like this massive amount of water. And this and this little little island called Tahiti or Fiji, or you know, like, like Hawaii is essentially a monster complex comparatively. And you're like, yeah, you know, just just gonna just keep going and I love that mentality because for you, that's normal. To me, that's insane. But in a great way, and I admire that so much because you are truly living you living the dream because you guys are doing what you love to do. You're making a living doing it, you're helping other people, you're you're providing value to people around the world. And you can literally travel the world on your own dime and do whatever the hell you want to do. You have complete freedom and I think that's I think we all that's the one that's going to the you know, running away with the circus, essentially, we're gonna go with the circus, but I'm wondering
Brady Trautman 9:36
thank you for saying that. I think I don't know after doing it for 10 years. I definitely got a little bit jaded and you know, as pretty as it is like anything in movies or documentaries it or series whatever. It feels incredible and you're watching it. It's like oh my god is the dream but there's there's hardships and there's a lot of difficulties that go along with living on a small sailboat with five people at a time. It's amazing. I wouldn't trade it. For the world, and I'm so grateful that I did it. It's just yeah, it's nice to hear again, people from the outside, like you say stuff like that cuz it's like yeah, I'm really lucky. I was able we were able to do that.
Alex Ferrari 10:11
Yeah, absolutely. And but, you know, I couldn't look you're traveling to South Pacific you're traveling, you know, across it, you know shits gonna happen, you know, I'm imagining it's just that like crystal blue sales and everything's running in the dolphins are jumping over next to you like the entire way. You know, I'm assuming you run out of money, you run out of food, you run out of gas, or whatever you're doing, like things happen, like, oh, there's a hurricane showing up. Like, I have to imagine things like that happens. But that's life. But you're but you've taken life by the kind of horns and just done what you want to do with it. Which is, believe me, I talked to a lot of people. And I talked to filmmakers, which we're all nuts. We're all we're all nuts, filmmakers. And filmmakers are insane people. I mean, I'm insane. We're all insane. My family looks at me like, what do you do? 20 years, 25 years. And you make and you do what? And now they see me on YouTube. So now they're just like, oh, he talks to famous people. I'm like, Yeah, okay, that's sure. That's what I do. That's all I do in my life. And I was that Sure, why not? But there's an insanity that comes along with being a filmmaker, but you guys just amped up that insanity. Like, instead of shooting a movie, let's shoot a movie on the open sea for months at a time. And oh, let's open up a YouTube channel. And you can like, Oh, my egg. You can never leave set. Yeah, exactly. It's always going. So when you guys started doing the videos that sent back to your family, because they just wanted to make sure you were alive and doing well. How, by the way, how do you communicate like carrier pigeon? Or like How? Like, I'm assuming the cell reception? I'm assuming the cell reception is not so well down there, especially 11 years ago?
Brady Trautman 11:52
Alex Ferrari 11:53
In the middle? Yeah.
Brady Trautman 11:55
I mean, yeah, the best way to communicate really was, was when we get to an island and you'd find a random computer, somebody would have a computer with internet and you'd sign in checking emails. Really, that was it. I mean, we didn't even have cell phones weren't really a thing through the South Pacific in 2010. Now you can find the cell phone pretty much anywhere you go. And you buy a SIM card, a local SIM card, and you can get you can get calls and data and stuff. But back then yeah, it'd be months before we'd we'd reach out or do anything and even uploading stuff to YouTube, right? Like there was times where, where we couldn't we leave the laptop in like a cafe somewhere for like two weeks to try and upload, like a 500 megabit video, and it just wouldn't upload. So we found we buy the small little USB thumb drive, put an episode on it, ship it across to my friends in Florida, and they would upload it for us and then post it for us. So that was faster than actually uploading a video at that time.
Alex Ferrari 12:51
Jesus. And you certainly you started doing this for your family, essentially. And you just opened up a YouTube channel just like start doing things. But then eventually, people just started finding it. And you're This is about 11 years ago?
Brady Trautman 13:02
Yeah, yeah, really, it was 2010 is when we first started uploading the little picture slideshows, and then 2011 there was a bit more video involved. And then, yeah, I think 2012 is when we really decided I think we we ended up getting a check from YouTube at some point for like $18 or $20. I don't remember the amount and we're like, holy shit, what is this? Like they made a mistake or something. And we didn't realize that they were monetizing our videos. So we realized that there was a way to make money on youtube, even if it was small. That was like a case of beer, which is awesome at that time when you have zero money. So yeah, we just kept doing it. And then once we realized that there was a way to grow it, it was growing and growing. And we found out that as long as we were consistent, and we were ourselves and being authentic and honest, and we just kept growing. And then the real real change happened when one of our one of our followers, one of our viewers on YouTube reached out and said, hey, there's this new thing called Patreon. It's perfect for you guys, you should check it out. And it must have been the first six months patron was was a lot. And we signed up for a Patreon account. And then yeah, people really, really understood that because there's something really special about giving directly back to an artist or somebody you like it's a personal connection, instead of giving it to a cable company or a network, and maybe it'll trickle down to them, like literally giving $5 or $10 to that creator. It has an emotion attached to it. And that's 100% why we were able to be successful.
Alex Ferrari 14:30
So so with YouTube, you start making some money with it you realize that there's an actual something there at least it's you know, beer money, we can work for beer money, basically. Yeah. You start working with beer money. And I put what Alex At what point did you like coming? What year did you jump in with him?
Alex Blue 14:46
Let's see. It was 2016 or 17.
Alex Ferrari 14:51
I think 17 March. So you guys were off and running already. The YouTube channel had already been Oh, yeah.
Brady Trautman 14:56
Yeah, we were full on by then we're just started. Like probably right then is when we started making a profit, I would say, like our expenses were paid for. So like, the boat was paid for insurance, food fuel, like cameras, it was kind of breakeven, like our lifestyle was paid for. And then right around that point that Alex joined us when it kind of kept going, and we were able to pay ourselves $500 a month.
Alex Ferrari 15:21
I mean, obviously. It's all Alex is 100% but Alex joy, the videography got better. The storytelling got better. The editing got better. Yeah, perfect.
Alex Blue 15:33
No, I mean, it's actually funny. Yeah, to look back, because when I once I realized I was going, I didn't watch any more episodes or anything to me, it felt weird to know that I was going to show up and know these people and they weren't going to know me or anything. So I kind of just went and didn't really look into it much shows like they seem legit, whatever, just go
Alex Ferrari 15:54
Okay, so let's, let's stop there for a second. I want to because my daughter's not see this one day, and I'm gonna say no, this is not the way to do it. I looked at the video, it seemed legit. I flew to Africa. This is not a statement that I ever want to hear my daughter say.
Alex Blue 16:11
Yeah, my mom had some doubts.
Alex Ferrari 16:14
I would hope so.
Alex Blue 16:17
But No, I didn't. I didn't know that. That Um, so the tribe is what they they kind of tell us refers to as the the people that watch their videos, and I'm telling you people are so inspired and like touched by these videos. I had no idea. It's like a it's like, it's almost like a cult classic in a way with Delos. The Delos episodes like people are so into them. And they've people have altered their lives so much like so many people have sold everything they own went and bought sailboats move their families aboard, like I'm talking hundreds, if not 1000s of people from these episodes. So they really touched people in a lot of ways. And yeah, and I just had no idea any of that before I got on the boat. Some people like to think that I saw Brady online buddy was cute, and like, came came in to swoop a map, but I did not have that much foresight
Brady Trautman 17:09
I was a lot skinnier and Tanner.
Alex Ferrari 17:14
No, it's it's it's really interesting, because as a creator, you know, with with what I do on a daily basis with podcasting, I've done hundreds and hundreds of podcasts. And you as a creator, you don't know what effect it has on people. You really don't you just put it out into the universe. And only when I'm at an event or at a film festival or a if I get emails or something like that. Do I realize the impact that Yeah, an episode? Did you found me listening to podcasts? You're like, Oh, yeah, yeah. And I have people who follow me like, Oh, my God, you know, you saved you saved me from losing $500,000 because that predatory distributor was gonna screw me, or those kinds of things all the time. So but as a creator, you just don't know, man. So I can imagine I understand that feeling of just putting it out there. And it really does affect people lives. For me. It's just like an interview. Like, I'm having an interview with you right now. And then I promise you somebody will just like, Oh, wait, what's that? What? Let me click on that YouTube channel, boom, all of a sudden, and they sell their boats. They sell their lives, they get a boat, and they go with a strange man. With a strange man with a strange man. Oh, no, she's a strange men. Exactly. But you don't know. But I promise you probably something like that will probably happen at one point or another, someone listening to this will happen. So it's, it's really, I always tell people, it's so important to put whatever's in your heart to put it out there. Because you just have no idea what effect it will have on another human being. It could be nothing to you. And you could say something like I say stuff on the show all the time. That to me, it's just not that's something I just it's just part of my vernacular, but it will blow someone's mind who's never heard it. And I'm assuming this, like, if I started watching your videos, if I wanted to get into boating, you'll probably save me years, FPA years of pain and suffering on how to run a boat or take one of your courses or, or you know, or something like that. It's it's pretty remarkable. It really is. Now you started once you speak regard, you started doing the YouTube channel, you started seeing there was a real thing. How did you build the audience? Or was it just strictly like I'm just going to create content? or How did you start interacting with them? How did you build that tribe? Because I called my guys the tribe as well.
Brady Trautman 19:28
I don't know our when we first started getting followers besides our parents. There was something inside of us like I knew something was I just knew it was gonna be big. Like I knew we were the first sailing YouTube channel in the world. And now there's, I don't know 10,000 or something, or I don't know how many there are, but I just knew that it was gonna go big, like, it was gonna be something big and we made kind of a rule just to only make videos that made us smile. So to be authentic to be ourselves. 100% never make A video based on a comment or, or what other people think. And and only only do it if it makes us happy. So if it ever came to a point where it was just too much and too stressful, which those times definitely came, then we had to take a step back and reassess. And that combined with the consistency is I think what grew the channel like we were releasing one episode 20 to 30 minute episode every Friday, still to this day, it's a brother scene. It's it's, it's ridiculous. And now I've been off the boat for full time for a little over a year now. And my brother and his wife and they have a baby on board now. And they're still doing it. And we have we have outside editors and stuff helping out but it's just like seeing it from the outside. Now I'm like,
Alex Ferrari 20:43
How the fuck did we do that for 10 years? Like I don't it was just 30 minutes of fresh content shot and edited every week is obscene.
Brady Trautman 20:53
The content was probably five months behind real time. Sure. So is backlog but yeah, it was every Friday 20 to 30 minute episode,
Alex Blue 21:03
sometimes maybe even longer labs every five minute episodes, double releases to try and catch up. Yeah, ridiculous.
Alex Ferrari 21:10
It's insanity. That's insanity. That's absolute insanity. Now out of sight out so you've mentioned a couple of revenue streams, you've created the YouTube advertising, which generally from my own experience on being on YouTube and just from other other youtubers I know. You got to have obscene amount of numbers to make, like people think like you're making a million a month I'm like, Dude, are you out of your mind? Like maybe in the beginning that was like it was a lot easier to make money when it started. But now you know, you got to really work to make and it's an it's not make make a living off of YouTube. Unless you've got millions of them. You got to have a lot a lot of us. So but you able to build that revenue stream? And then Patreon How did Patreon do for you guys? Is that really supported you?
Brady Trautman 21:54
Yeah, that's been the main revenue stream. By far. I mean, the ad revenue in the beginning in 2014 15. It was good. I think around 2016 it just started to drop even though our numbers grew, our ad revenue didn't really go up very much, because it was just so flooded. But Patreon yeah has continued to grow since we started it. I think we started it in 2013 is when we first started our Patreon account. And yeah, people find us on YouTube. And they watch a couple episodes. And of course, we push it in our YouTube videos like these videos are free. If you really want to support us head over to Patreon. And we give them rewards of course, t shirts, and sometimes we pick somebody's name out of a hat and they get to come sailing with us. So the rewards is it's a really cool platform. And without Patreon, I don't think we'd be where we are, we would have found a different route to continue. But I don't know if it would have been as big or successful as it is at all. We also have another revenue stream, which is really fun. Is our it's not a donation button because donation seems so like
Alex Ferrari 22:51
oh the give me buy me a beer.
Brady Trautman 22:53
Yeah, Bobby and beer. Exactly. And we came up we were sitting down having beers when this is before Patreon existed and we're like, yeah, people should like they people want to give us money. They're asking how to donate but you're like, come on, who's gonna donate to two younger dudes on a sailboat living living a great life in the South Pacific. Like, I wouldn't donate to those guys. But we we kind of formed it more in the way of if you're at a bar, and somebody tells you to good question or tells you so it tells you a good story and makes you laugh. Then you buy him a beer, right? It's like, Oh, that was a great story. Let me buy you a beer. So that's kind of how we did the whole thing. And that was a huge success. And it still is Yeah, cuz
Alex Ferrari 23:30
you guys start building out your website and yeah, I mean, all that all those kinds of things. And then obviously have some merge that you submerge and Oh, the one other other the US now do tours. You also do is you don't you have a course or like some sort of training Do you do as well,
Brady Trautman 23:48
I have a separate now like, since since we left the boat, Alex and I have started our own. I'm still part of Delos. But we're not involved in the filming or the editing of it. So we've kind of done our own thing. And instead of relying solely on YouTube to create an income, and to constantly pump out videos as much as we can. We've taken our experience of sailing around the world and all the stuff we've learned and we've made sailing school. So we're teaching, it's not through Delos, it's not through the YouTube channel. It's just something we're doing. So that way we can go back to filmmaking as a passion instead of a constant like, how are we going to make money off this next film?
Alex Ferrari 24:24
Now is that is that is that online? Is that an online course? Or is that an in person course? in person? It's an in person course. Alright, so do they fly in? And yet? Oh, wow. So I must be Yeah, solid. And then you could just film when you want to film and it's good. It's It's remarkable how you guys have been able to just figure it out in a way that like I'm just gonna keep doing what I want to do. And I'm never going to work with a man and, and just and just live the life you want to live and it's really inspiring truly, truly honestly as filmmakers and it's just a human being To be able to just I don't think you could ever get a chocolate could you get a chop? Like could sound like
Brady Trautman 25:05
why we there's no way I could get a normal job. I just don't I wouldn't know how to do it. I'd fail. I get fired probably right away.
Alex Ferrari 25:13
I always I always tell people, I'm unemployable. I think I'm psychologically unemployable. I cannot I there's no way I can have a boss. No, I get. I just got rid of my clients like three years ago. When I when I close my post, I was done. I was like, yeah, I'm done. I can't do this all full time now. And it's, it's been great. Now, you also did a documentary series called 80 degrees north. Where, because you know, this opposite, it's not enough. And of course, the Atlantic is not enough in the Indian Ocean. And you're like, well, where Haven't we gone on this planet? On the Arctic? Oh, there's that's so. So let's go up to the Arctic and do this adventure. And you did this movie called 80 degree movie, but a series called 80 degrees north. Can you tell everybody a little bit about that? That project? Good.
Alex Blue 26:02
Yep. So we have a couple of friends who are also sailors, they have more of a it's not a charter. It's kind of like a blue water ocean experience school where you can go make long ocean passages with them. And they were going to be up in small Bard for anyone who doesn't know who that is, which is good chance probably.
Alex Ferrari 26:25
Alex Blue 26:26
Yeah, it's, it's north of Norway. It's about 600 miles from the North Pole. It's a group of islands. And yeah, they're, they're very, in the in the summertime, it's 24 hours of daylight, and polar bears and all kinds of wildlife up there. And they recently have become more of a tourist attraction because a lot of the ice the pack ice the normally kind of packs them in, even in the summertime has been melting. So they had this idea they wanted to go up there, it was kind of between trips, and they invited the Dallas crew to come out and meet them, which definitely isn't something normally that the Dulles crew does, like we're always on Delos sailing around from place to place filming kind of doing our own thing. But it was an opportunity at that point where I think that everyone is pretty ready to try something new. And Delos has spent most of her life, you know, at the equator. And so everyone was like let's go see what you know, Coldwater sailing is all about. try this out. So yeah, we all flew there and hopped on their boat. They have a 40 foot swan. So it was them too. They had a ship photographer and then five of the Dallas crew came. So there's eight people on a 40 foot boat for three weeks. And we sell like 15 cameras. Oh my god, so much camera gear flying everywhere. So yeah, hopped on board with them sailed around and pretty much just filmed our experience everything from sort of what it took to prep the boat to the encounters that we had with glaciers to seeing polar bears, beluga whales, walrus, the sailing conditions, everything. And yeah, maida ended up making a four part documentary series with it.
Alex Ferrari 28:08
So I got I just want to go back to that for that scent that you said, hey, let's fly up to the Arctic and see what that's about. Again, that's something that is normally set by a normal human being. I just want to let everybody know that right there. Cuz you say it's so weird. Like, it just rolls off the tongue. I just want to stop for a second just so you're aware. That's just not the way we're normally used to living living in our underwear and bikinis in Brazil. Right? Oh, let's
Brady Trautman 28:32
try and fancy Yeah, let's do that. What a great idea. It was a great idea. It turned out to be a great idea. But looking back, it was like, we had no idea what we're getting ourselves into. It was just a completely opposite thing than what we knew and what we're used to. And I think that's why it excited us because at that point, when you're constantly filming your life every day and and editing the same footage, you kind of you don't get burned out, so to speak, but it's not as you're not as passionate about showing it anymore. You're like, Okay, get it doing the same thing we've done 200 times getting in the dinghy go into an island. So the idea of going to the Arctic someplace we've never been with totally different conditions, reignited our passion for filming and exploration. And we knew we wanted to do something different with it than the YouTube channel. Like we didn't want to have it just a normal Friday release and one of the time grows is filmmakers and just learn more and try different things. So we spent a ton of time it took us about two years to finish editing it and we did tons of interviews and yeah, so full on little mini series.
Alex Ferrari 29:33
That's That's awesome, dude. And I was gonna say, I don't know how you guys edit yourselves for over a decade because if it wasn't for me talking to other people, I can do this. Like I could not edit my source My life is boring as hell, but nothing nearly as cool as you guys do. But like just seeing myself all the time and doing the same thing after like, it might be cool for a little bit but after a while, like you said like okay, we get The thing again, we're gonna go to the, you know, I know everyone everyone watching is like, Oh my god, but for us, it's like, you know, like, Okay,
Brady Trautman 30:08
before she joined Bella, she was behind the camera like, 100% of the time. And she got on the boat until Africa. And there's a camera in her face. And she's like, Oh, so that was the last thing for you to get used to. Right?
Alex Blue 30:19
Yeah, I think it's actually there's a lot of value in you know, people always say if they have to listen to voicemail that they leave or, you know, watch a video clip of themselves. And they, they're like, I hate my voice, or I hate the way I look. And for me, it was really, really interesting. Because Yeah, I'd always been behind the camera and but there's a lot of value, even though it's straight up sucks. And it's really hard to like, watch yourself on camera, you realize a lot of I realized two things, I realized things about myself that I never realized before, from not new perspective that I wanted to change. And then I realized things that maybe you know, weren't perfect about me. But that's who made me who I was. And I was never going to change those things. So it actually really helped me grow as a person and see myself from, you know, someone else's point of view. And I think I became a better person for it from it. But it's, it's brutal.
Alex Ferrari 31:10
Most human beings go the other way. They go like, Oh, my God, this sucks. I'm just a horrible, I can't do this. And it just you don't find the positives or even the constructive. You just look at the negative. I took me years before I can listen to myself, like I know. Now I've got a little more accustomed to listen to my voice. But all was proved. It took me forever to get on. It took me forever to skim. If you if you go to my YouTube channel, the first videos, it's all just audio, I just threw up the audio. I just took me like two, three years before I started putting myself on video. I just I'm like, Oh, I want to be buying the camera. I don't want to do it. So it is brutal. It's brutal. So I tip I tip my hat to you guys, for doing it for as long as you have. Now the really interesting thing about 80 degrees north is that you have a very unique distribution model. And how is that working for you? And what is it?
Brady Trautman 31:57
Yeah, it's actually turned out we took a big risk, and it worked out very well for us. Luckily, when we first Yeah, when we first started editing this thing together. And we had three parts and four parts and we knew it wasn't going to go on YouTube. I started reaching out to you know, distribute distribution networks. I started listening to your podcasts like what other avenues other What do people do? I started talking to aggregators, I talked to people at all the major streaming networks that I won't name but all you know all the big ones that are out there. It's a short list. Yeah, yeah. And the most common thing that I heard back from them was where where's the arguing? Like, where's the drama where I'm like, we're fucking sailing in the Arctic, we have to carry a rifle. Because polar bears can attack us for protection. Like, is that not enough for you? Like it's not enough drama, you really need to the Alice to throw like they just wanted like, they're like, when did the crew argue? You know, if you argue with your brother, there had to be eight people on a 48 foot. You had to have argued? Like no, like, we didn't actually it was perfect. We didn't have any arguments. We didn't have any disagreements. So
Alex Ferrari 32:59
they were they were looking for the housewives of the Arctic is basically Yeah, no. Don't make a spoof of that now. Oh, my God, oh, Housewives of the Arctic
Brady Trautman 33:10
glaciers, beluga whales. Let's just you guys argue in a small space. It was a I don't know, it was a wake up call and a turn off really because as a as an independent filmmaker or something you feel like getting on one of those streaming platforms is like this is that's where you want to go. That's you get in front of so many people. And it's almost like a notch on your belt. But then I realized that we have such a cool, dedicated audience already, like our YouTube following our Instagram accounts, everybody is so engaged and so interested in what we're doing, we realize that no matter where we release it, people will want to watch. So instead of Yeah, instead of going with the streaming platforms or, or even charging, like on amazon prime, where you charge a certain amount for the for the episodes, we decided to give the people the choice and how much they wanted to pay. So we did a pay what's fair model, who built their own website, put up a trailer of it at North series.com is where it's all at, which is a podcast and people started hearing about it and then there's a little box where you can go and you type in whatever amount you want. And then you get to watch you get to stream all four parts of the series for as long as you
Alex Ferrari 34:22
have to ask you I mean, I don't want like accounting but like what's the average? Let's see. I was $15.35 Wow for two visitors and almost a little bit over two hours that the full series if I'm not mistaken.
Brady Trautman 34:35
Yeah, yep. So it's about 30 minutes so it's Yeah, a little over two hours. So I thought more people would watch. I mean, I'll tell you the amount of people that have watched it is right around 14,000 people right now are sorry that I paid 14,000 people
Alex Ferrari 34:50
so you can do this amazing.
Brady Trautman 34:52
It's great. We were able to cover our production costs like the flights of the crew, all the camera gear you know, all the all the stuff that goes into that. But it didn't reach as many people as I thought it would. Because we get, you know, in our in our YouTube channel, we get close to two to 300,000 views in a week span, like from the first Friday release. So it's a small percentage of people that are watching, but they're actually paying more than I thought, maybe I thought it would be 100,000 people or they pay $4.
Alex Ferrari 35:20
But I'll tell you getting 14,000 people off of a 200,000 like audience is a massive amount of conversion. That's it. Yeah. Really massive. And at that price point that you're talking about, is massive, because I've seen guys who have guys and gals who've got a million. And like, if they can get, if they get 10,000 off of a million, it's you're you're winning, it's again. So that's a that's a really big conversion. That says a lot about the passion of your audience. Now, you know, when I saw the pay to play model, I was like, Okay, this sounds great. But without an audience, this is really a tough sell. This is a hot, you know, if you if you got nobody, and it's only your mom and your uncle and maybe your best, and all the actors, or all the crew, people's parents and friends, yeah. This is this the pay, it's not going to really work. So it's so important. I've been yelling at this from the top of the mountain for so long, building that audience, connecting with that audience, and then feeding that audience, giving that audience what they want, providing a service to them, through your videos, through your services, through your products, through everything that you create. And you didn't go off and make you know, a movie about the carnival. or running off with a circus. You didn't make that movie because that movie wouldn't sell to your audience, maybe maybe a handful who just want to like, Did Davos, just join the circus. Which, by the way, would probably be an interesting documentary. It's a documentary but but you focused on the niche and you stayed within that niche, which is a niche you love. And you've maintained your life livelihood for the last decade by doing what you love. And isn't that every filmmakers dream?
Brady Trautman 37:06
I think so I never thought I would be a filmmaker or make documentary films. And then it just kind of came to fruition by necessity, I guess then yeah, it's 100% energy, my talk to a lot of other YouTubers, a lot of people that have YouTube chat sailing YouTube channels. And it's always the same question like, how do you create revenue from your YouTube channel or for making films, and it's so hard, it's really hard. And that's why we're really grateful to have such a good audience. And that audience was born out of going back to what I said before, being authentic, and just being ourselves. And you can see, you know what, the minute somebody is fake or does something to think that audience will like or something for money, the audience can see it right away, like the viewers will notice right away. And they'll be like, Okay, this person's not not real. They're only doing it for these reasons. So being authentic, really helped us all the way through, even for this documentary series, because people really stood behind us. And they're like, yeah, screw those guys trying to make you argue, do your own thing, and we're happy to support it.
Alex Ferrari 38:06
Now, did you just do you guys do sponsors as well? Or no?
Brady Trautman 38:10
No, no, we do. We do like gear sponsors and stuff. We don't do any big paid sponsorships? We've kind of stayed away from all that. If somebody wants to send us something like a dinghy or or sales, and we use it organically in the YouTube series, then awesome. It'll show up, like, organically, we don't have to blatantly put it out there. So we've never actually done really big paid partnerships. And for the at North series, we didn't do anything. No,
Alex Ferrari 38:35
no. Is there? Is there any reason? Would there have been a partner in the at North series that might have been a good like a maybe a couple brands or something like that, that would have aligned with your message of what you're trying to do? And help that also help pay for it? Yeah, I mean, the whole the whole series is pretty much alley hands and commercial. Yeah.
Alex Blue 38:54
We had a, we had a pro deal with Helly. Hansen. And yeah, we got like, 50% off. Yeah. And none of us had any snow gear or anything. We all a bikini, so we had to get literally fully fitted out all of our gear, all of our valleys and Helly Hansen. So like Brady said, the whole thing is a Helly. Hansen, essentially, but I mean, yeah, maybe if we tried to work it before, but at the end, it's like, well, it's already there. So yeah. Look what we did, it's already released.
Alex Ferrari 39:22
Do you want to give us money? Give us some money now for it. Now, what do you guys what do you guys planning in the future? I mean, obviously, obviously, this season, you're going to be at Lake Tahoe and sailing. I'm assuming you're doing courses or training. Now. You're gonna be doing that this summer. So what's up next for you guys now?
Alex Blue 39:40
Yeah, so Well, actually, me and Brady had the the idea of starting our new business, the cruisers Academy, which is the sailing school, when we were still on Delos. We really like teaching people. And yeah, like Brady said, just take a little bit of pressure off the filmmaking so that we can kind of you know, Enjoy it again. Not put so much not not put so much pressure on it. So yeah, so doing the sailing school and our original idea with it was to teach people how to live on boats how to cross oceans, Offshore Sailing, yeah, how to provision for six months at a time. And that still is our goal. But you know, given the last year and the travel restrictions and everything, we just decided to keep it local on taho. So we're kind of getting the Tahoe chapter set up. But we also are in the works of buying a blue water boat that can sail around the world. So we're going to be hopefully buying that boat this summer, and expanding the cruisers Academy to the ocean side as well. And then yes, still making films. We actually just got back from a dive trip in the Galapagos Islands for weeks. He told me
Brady Trautman 40:49
how was that? Like? It's like everything you see on Discovery Channel. There really is it's not? We're Galapagos
Alex Ferrari 40:57
is we're off of South America. Ecuador, right? Yeah. Yeah. It's off of Ecuador. Yeah,
Alex Blue 41:01
it's actually right at the equator. So yeah, we're diving with schooling, hammerheads out there and sea lions all around the streets, like, you know, dogs and everything like that. So we shot about four terabytes between the two of us two weeks. And that's going to be Yeah, the next film project that we put together, again, not putting a huge amount of pressure on when we're going to get it done. But hopefully by the end of summer, we'll have either some kind of long format product from it, or a few different episodes on our new cruisers Academy YouTube channel, but pretty much just still doing sailing and filming, but switching it up the amounts that we're doing of it, I guess.
Brady Trautman 41:38
Yeah, it was the first time this Galapagos trip was the first time we really picked up our cameras. And we're so intense with filming in about a year. When we when we left Delos and came to Tahoe, we kind of put our cameras down and we're like, okay, let's take a break from filming everything all the time. And then this Galapagos trip, we were right back in it with all of our cameras. So it felt really good. And it was like rejuvenating to film again, and be creative behind the camera. So I'm excited to see what comes in the footage. We haven't looked at any of it yet. But I think it'll be pretty cool. If it's not if we don't get cool footage from that trip, then we should not have ever again. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 42:13
All you gotta do is basically just turn it on and expose it. You should be take the lens cap off, and you should pretty much good.
Brady Trautman 42:20
So yeah. And then apart from the sailing school, we did because we've kind of branched off of Delos, because like I said, my brother and his wife and baby are still on board doing that. So we started our own YouTube channel called Crusaders Academy, same name as the sailing school. And that's what we'll be posting our short little stuff like, like, we're not going to do stuff once a week, like we talked about before. But whenever it's just a place for us to release our creative energy and to film and to edit stuff, but not in any way. Trying to turn it into a big business.
Alex Ferrari 42:50
Right, just just enough to kind of keep the ball rolling, just to keep the ball Yeah, and that's the thing a lot of a lot of filmmakers always think you know, that you have to be, you know, living in the Hollywood Hills making millions and millions of dollars as a filmmaker or as a YouTuber. And at the end of the day, like, is your is your is your roof paid for? Is your free pay for? Like, you know, can you buy a couple nice things if you need to go to the Can you go on a trip? You're living the dream, man. Like if you're making you know, even more importantly, do
Brady Trautman 43:21
you enjoy what you're doing? That's a huge value cleaning a lot of people forget about is maybe you can get a job paying double what you'd make for yourself, but that value of enjoying eight hours a day, 10 hours a day doing what you're doing is worth way more than double your salary.
Alex Ferrari 43:37
Oh, that's huge.
Alex Blue 43:39
And so are you proud of what you're making? You know, like, it's so fun to be able to go to the Galapagos and film exactly what we want edit it together exactly how we want like, we're the final. Like when I worked for production houses when I was first getting going in video, I just remember making an edit on something and someone coming in and telling me to change it to some horrible way. I was like, I cannot do this. This is literally ripping my soul out of my body. And that was when I decided like I'm making my own things and I'll make way less money but I'll be so much happier and yeah, it's a good path. Oh, trust me.
Alex Ferrari 44:17
I was in post for 25 years all I know I did everything so I Oh dude, dude, I direct and then I would do post that my post was like my day job. So like I always had post to pay the bills and then I would go off and direct stuff. But man all from color grading, editing post supervising VFX ah
Brady Trautman 44:39
brutal, brutal, brutal. A lot of a lot of your listeners are in those fields. Now.
Alex Ferrari 44:44
They're like, they're like, damn it. Damn it. Hey, but some people love that. Like I've interviewed I've interviewed Academy Award winning editors who are just like love that collaborative process. I'm too much of an entrepreneur. I'm too much of my own boss. I like collaborating, but I can't, I can't man. And as you get older, and I think you guys can feel this, as you get older the tolerance just actually go down of what you're gonna put up the shit that you'll put up with, it just starts, because you'll put up with a lot of 22. But a 32, things start getting different at 42, things get really different. And that's why you see the 82 year old guy walking out with his with his underwear half off his shirt to pick up the paper in his eye, he doesn't care. He's done, done. Now, I'm gonna ask a few questions asked all my guests, what advice would you give a filmmaker tried to break into the business today?
Alex Blue 45:41
I think it's interesting, because the business has changed so much from what it traditionally used to be. And there's so many different things that you can do within filmmaking, whether you're interested in writing or directing, or editing or, you know, filming or vlogging, you know, is a huge new one. So I think it really depends. But, as we've said multiple times over the last hour, I think staying true to yourself, even if there's less of an immediate reward is the way to go. And you know, in the long run, you're you're really shaping your your career path. As you go every job you take every client, you take every decision you make every project you work on, that's going to lead you to your next step. And if you can make good choices and kind of make sacrifices along the way to stay true to yourself, I think that's going to get you to where you want to go.
Brady Trautman 46:32
Yeah, for sure. I think besides like what I said about being authentic, it depends. If you're behind the camera, and you're on a set, you know, you're not filming yourself, you're not creating a vlog but for for a filmmaker that has total control over everything, to be authentic, and do what makes you happy. Like I've said many times during this, but also, I think a lot of people nowadays, especially in the YouTube world get caught up on the most expensive gear and the craziest transitions and, and stuff like that. And you're just like, just tell the story. At the end of the day, like that's what it's all about is is editing something that makes somebody else feel something on the other side of the screen and focus on that, like I've followed some people that film their YouTube channel with like iPhones the whole time. And it's incredible because they are who they are. And it's it's not very cinematic, but it's real. And they're great storytellers. So focus on that first and not the big effects and the big cameras in the transition the slides.
Alex Ferrari 47:31
I like the star wife personally, that's just made up stocks. Fantastic. Let's do one finds all the blinds the blah you could do it this way if you're if you're fancy you could do it angled wise this way. Yeah. Oh, hey, let's not get crazy man. That's like that's actually that cost a little extra? Yes to start wipe. Fantastic. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? lesson to learn? That's a tough question. You're both looking over to your right. So I guess the answer is over there. That's just a window. That's a beautiful window. It's because I was wondering are the answers there?
Brady Trautman 48:14
The first thing that popped into my head with taxes. I wish I learned all that shit earlier. Like, I still don't get it. I still .
Alex Ferrari 48:25
Dude. We were just talking about that. You know, California. Hey, man, taxes. It's like the second and that's the second highest second or third highest place to live after New York and New Jersey. As far as taxes are. It's insane. It's insane. It's insane. But you know what remaining? Yeah, thanks. Thank you so much, sir. Hey, man, hey, I'm with you. But I'm still I'm still on this boat. I'm still in this boat. Sir. I am still in this boat for the time being. But you know what, that is probably one of the best answers I've heard on the show. taxes, learn taxes, learn accounting, what everything does and how to do stuff. How to deduct, how to legally deduct, like, I'd love to. I'd love to see your itemized list like, Oh, yeah, everything. Everything is deductible, everything, food, the whole thing. It's all part of the show about you, Alex.
Alex Blue 49:16
Let's see. I think something that I've learned is that when you find good people, like treat them right and do what you need to do to hold on to them. I think that one of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur probably no matter what business you're in, even if it's not filmmaking is that it's hard to find another one of you, you know, and if you can find someone like that, they are worth their weight in gold and like, you know, make sacrifices to keep them on board and keep them happy and value them because, you know, together you can do way way more than you can separately. So that's that's a big thing that I've learned and something that I am definitely going to carry through As we start this, this new venture,
Alex Ferrari 50:02
and three of your favorite films of all time.
Alex Blue 50:06
Brady Trautman 50:08
that's a really good question two out the window. What do we got?
Alex Blue 50:14
I really went by the ones that I've watched the most. I'm going to go old school and save 10 Things I Hate About You like Heath Ledger five years and put it on and still no, like every word that movies I had. I remember how to like I recorded it off TV on like a VHS tape when I was little and I used to watch it all.
Alex Ferrari 50:32
I don't know what I don't know what VHS is our way to that.
Brady Trautman 50:41
The first one that comes to my mind is The Goonies it's always holds a special. My heart sounds probably a classic that many people say The Goonies Yeah,
Alex Blue 50:49
there's actually Yeah, one of my favorite films, also, like independently made it's called chasing bubbles. And it's about an absolute legend named Alex rest. I think you can watch it for free on YouTube. Go watch it and just be prepared, you're going to want to like sell everything and buy a boat after it. But it's so worth a watch. It's really really good.
Brady Trautman 51:11
Yeah, Chasing bubbles. That's a good one. Um,
Alex Ferrari 51:16
Brady Trautman 51:17
That's really tough.
Alex Blue 51:18
I have one more I have one more. It's actually a film about the wild mustangs in the US, but it's called on branded. I read horses and I have a Mustang. But even if you don't, the film is really, really well made. And it tells the whole story of Mustangs and it's about these cowboys that actually go get wild horses and put a little bit of training on him and ride them from all the way up the PCT from Mexico to Canada. so crazy story. really well done. Go watch it.
Alex Ferrari 51:47
Wow. I see that you is which one? Yes series. Of course.
Brady Trautman 51:54
Probably not original, and everybody probably loves it. But I've watched It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia like 10 times over. Like I put it on I'm going to bed in the morning. I don't know he's got to just geniuses.
Alex Ferrari 52:05
The the two shows that I do that too. And that's also not originalist. Seinfeld and friends. Like I'll just I was I was just watching Seinfeld the other day. And I'm like, so good. It's just so good. I can't I can't believe they got away with this stuff they got away with. And then I and then my daughters now are obsessed with friends. They're, they're like young, like super young. And they just sometimes you're like, no, that's not appropriate. It's not appropriate, and appropriate. But now like it was so funny, Jennifer Aniston we watched Marley and me the other day, and they go, is that is that Rachel from friends? I'm like, my wife and I both looked at each other. Like, we've done something right or wrong. I'm not sure what it is. We don't know. Yeah, we don't know. Something. And where can people find out more about what you guys are doing and follow you guys.
Brady Trautman 52:55
The best thing is cruisers Academy. So you can find that on Instagram cruisers Academy or YouTube search cruisers Academy, or cruisers academy.com for a sailing school. So if anybody's interested in coming up to Tahoe and sailing, we're pretty booked up. But we'll find some space to do some charters and whatever, just stay in touch. So cruisers Academy on all platforms, is the best to stay in touch.
Alex Blue 53:16
And also Brady mentioned it before, but 80 North series.com if you did want to watch the docu series that we made about our adventures in the Arctic.
Alex Ferrari 53:27
Yeah, very cool. And we're looking forward to the Galapagos series coming soon. Well, maybe not that soon. Because you guys will take by two years to come into
Brady Trautman 53:35
It will come when it's supposed to come.
Alex Ferrari 53:39
As, as a true filmmaker, as a true record filmmaker would say, guys, thank you so much for being on the show you are an inspiration on how to live life to its fullest and follow the dream follow the bliss and you guys are definitely examples of that. So thank you so much for being on the show, guys.
Brady Trautman 53:54
Thank you so much for having us. It was really nice.
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- Cruisers Academy – Website
- Cruisers Academy – Youtube
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- Watch: 80 north Series