I had the honor of interviewing Mat Edwards of the Crabitat channel, check out his YouTube-

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and crabitat
Mat: Hello Bryan, I can happily tell you a little of myself and my crabitat. I am married, white, male, and living in the Goldfields Western Australia, working as a mine geologist in the mining industry.  I graduated from Curtin University in Perth with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Geology. After working for low hourly wages for several years after completing year 12, it was a blessing to be able to return to study, emerging myself in the nature of the Earth, life that exists here, and the processes by which the solid Earth is changing. Film has always been an interest, and several times I toyed with the idea of studying film, and briefly experimented with filming motocross after year 12 studies during the Crusty Demons of Dirt evolution. Recently, I have found myself in a financial situation to return to my keen interest in filming. After an impulsive purchase of some hermit crabs at the start of 2014, I found myself browsing through YouTube hermit crab content that I thought was missing insight into the potential of a crabitat. I was searching for the best crabitats out there, and found for the most part, they were not really replicating the natural habitat of a hermit crab. Most people are keeping hermit crabs in glass aquariums that are expensive to buy, if a considerable size. I wanted to build a larger crabitat that would have multiple levels and a glass aquarium was just not going to be the way to go about it. Fast Forward to today and I have two large 750 gallon enclosures. Later in the year, I will start filming the second season of The Crabitat, which showcases the hermit crabs I keep in a fictitious story. I found the best platform to share my work was YouTube, where I have done the majority of voice-over with my daughter and son, and the end result is The Crabitat Channel.

Me: So people were missing out on seeing how crabs should be naturally?, how did the stories come about?, what inspired those?

Mat: Yeah mate, I reckon that’s right, I’d say these little guys get up to some amazing stuff in nature that they just don’t have a chance to do when kept in a small cage or tank. I do see a lot of information out there now though, and it’s easy to jump online and see what a hermit crab needs. The story came about after filming and being really surprised with the amount of detail the digital cameras can zoom into. I just did a bunch of filming and decided to edit the film into a story which eventuated into the first episode of the season. I thought it would be pretty fun to turn it into a series as I figured talking hermit crabs hadn’t really been done before, and I’m usually pretty keen to try new stuff. I was pretty impressed with their acting skills as well, they are a pleasure to work with. The problem with filming in the crabitat though is the limited space. That’s where the idea of the gateway came about, which ultimately opens the crabitat up to an under-explored land. Growing up, I read and played a bit of fantasy-type stuff like dungeons and dragons and warhammer fantasy battle, so the stories are no doubt influenced by that, and inspired by great movie making talents such as Peter Jackson.

Me: Awesome!, and you’ve gotten great responses, are you surprised at how much of a response you’ve gotten?

Mat: Some great responses indeed, with my favorite being ‘lookout Merkat
Manor, Hermit Crabs are in the House!, and generally really positive
responses. I tried to keep the videos viewable for anyone who keeps
hermit crabs, which is quite difficult, and may sacrifice some appeal
to any one age group, but absolutely, I was really happy with the response
I got. I knew there were a lot of people out there who keep hermit
crabs, all over the world it seems hermit crabs are a pet that people
tend to have a try at for a period of time. Only the real dedicated
ones are successful at it, because keeping them is tricky. So with
all the hermit crabs out there, I’m not surprised that people will
scroll through YouTube looking for hermit crab content. I really
believe the Crabitat Channel has a potential to grow basically to the
number of hermit crab keepers out there or more, and that is anyone’s
guess.

Me: Awesome!, so other than crabitat, what do you do?
Mat: With regard to time away from work, I actually work an 8/6 roster, so I work for eight days and then have 6 days of theoretical rest and
relaxation. This is a typical roster of the mining industry, but many
others exist that are designed to keep the mines running 24/7. Living
residentially in the Goldfields in a town of a few thousand people
means it’s really quiet except for all the motorbikes buzzing around.
I’m planning to get quad bikes for my wife and kids when the kids are
a little bigger, and that will be a something we can really enjoy as a
family. My daughter started kindergarten this year and won a merit
certificate, so I’m really proud and enjoying seeing her learning new
things everyday. My son has just started to get comfortable on his
feet and I reckon he’ll be pretty good at sports, it’s an exciting and
fun time. With regard to the Crabitat Channel, I also do vlogs,
how-to’s, and I am taking a trip once a year to capture footage of
hermit crabs in remote locations. This is then made into a documentary-type series. The current series is the remote hermit crab
location of Coco’s Island, and I’m about halfway through that series.
The next trip is likely going to be the Okinawan Islands of Japan.

Me: So you’re a small town family man who just happens to be popular with crab videos?
Mat: Yeah mate, that pretty much sums me up, lol, just stumbled across a bit of stardom by making a few crab videos!, but honestly, the YouTube community is great to be a part of, I’m getting to know a few of the other channels. I got a 3rd place in Jesse Ridgway’s movie making competition, which is run on his McJuggerNuggets channel, a very popular USA channel. So while I’m having fun making videos, I’ll continue to do it, and it seems the viewers like a good laugh too, with many of the popular content on YouTube being comedy driven. I reckon that’s what the viewers are after, perhaps I’ll shorten the videos in season 2 of the Crabitat and focus more on comical value.  A wonderful thing about YouTube is it has an awesome analytics, so I can concentrate on what works, and optimize it through audience retention data.

Me: You mentioned season 2 being shorter and more comical, how else will season 2 differ from season 1?
Mat: Well that’s a good question, because I have a rough plot, but it’s time to start breaking it out into episodes. It’s a case of writing it so
it can be somewhat fluid with what the hermit crabs do. I’m keen to
have another animal or two make a guest appearance. Also, there will
be filming outside the Crabitat again, and will no doubt expand to
include the Forest and the dwellers there. The Nemchin, which are
freshwater crayfish, will be potentially there again. There will also
be a similar hermit crab cast, with the characters from the first
season carrying on. The problem I had in the first season, and the
reason so many hermit crabs were introduced, is because they would
burrow down and I would literally lose my actors!, to combat that, I
have made a holding tank where I will keep them for the duration it
takes to capture the footage.  Definitely, I see it being more refined,
especially the sound quality and general post-production.

Me: Do animals make it hard to keep continuity?
Mat: I think they have their challenges, as I mentioned, the hermit crabs
need to moult, so they will burrow down and may stay under the
substrate to shed their exoskeleton from anywhere from a few weeks to
4 months for the bigger guys. I did struggle a little when my main
bad guy, his name is Wallace, decided to change out of his shell into
a more comfortable one. This was a disaster, as hermit crabs are near
impossible to get out of a shell. They will basically prefer to be
ripped in half rather than give up a shell they like. So I had to
leave him in the new one and try to get another similar looking
crustacean to take up residence in his old one. I had no success with
this, and the Wallace’s shell is still unoccupied, that’s the reason
he didn’t feature prominently in the second half of the first season.
Actually, all the footage of him in the last episodes are some of the
first filming I did. I really like that shell, I’m going to have to get another crabby in it to truly play the role of Wallace.

Me: Is that something most people notice though?
Mat: Yeah, I think so, people would certainly find it hard to follow a story
with sudden missing characters and shell changes. At one stage, the
whole project was teetering on the edge of the too hard basket, because I really wanted to have continuity of characters, and it took a
while longer to film it than I anticipated, with the holding pen I
have now, I wont have this problem.

Me: I see, I don’t know alot about crab shells personally, they’ve changed which actors have played a TV character on other TV shows!, TV shows replace major characters, like Darrin on bewitched was played by 2 different actors, I’m sure a different crab can play Wallace!, lol

Mat: I see, yeah that’s right, and Sammy Senior was played by Harlequin in
‘Alchemy’ the final of S01. You can see the chip that Sammy Senior had in his shell is gone in that episode. Harlequin has a very similar color to Sammy Senior, and his walk and shell are also similar, but without the chip, but I did give Harlequin recognition in the
credits. It was a cold night when we filmed those final Orange Island
scenes, so he definitely deserved to go in the credits, but as for Wallace, I would happily put a different different colored crustacean in Wallace’s shell between seasons, or even have a different crustacean with a different shell playing the Wallace character, but
to do that mid-season for no apparent reason is what I want to avoid
having to do.

Me: I see, so is the future of Wallace up in the air?, if so, how will you write him out of the script?
Mat: It will depend if I can get another crustacean to take up residence in
his shell, which I’m optimistic in being able to do. I have not
considered how I would write him out of the script, if that becomes
necessary, I’ll deal with that situation if it arises, but I’ll be doing all I can to get a crustacean in the Wallace shell, even if I have to ask the local pet shop if I can leave his shell in their tank, that would mean a sale of a hermit crab for them, so they’d probably
be OK with that.

Me: Well we definitely look forward to seeing what will happen!, so other than the future of Wallace, what all can we expect from you in the future?
Mat: I envisage the Crabitat continuing for a few seasons, and I hope to grow the Crabitat Channel to the number 1 hermit crab location online, so alot is planned on just building the channel into a formidable YouTube channel, it is linked to my website thecrabitatchannel.com ,where I have made the episodes available for download. There will be merchandize available there soon, some stickers and a few other bits and pieces. The focus will be mostly on video production on YouTube, I think the future is bright at YouTube, with many people surfing there and using it as a search engine. I am also interested in interactive video, so at some stage down the track, I may try to branch into that. The other thing is gaming applications, I’d like to make a Crabitat game, I already have a few nifty ideas for that, so it’s something that may eventually evolve as well. 

Me: Awesome!, merchandize this fall?, what all can we expect?
Mat: Not a massive variation of items, but I will make some t-shirts
available, there will be some sticker kits, I’ll do a few hats, and
possibly look at a couple of specialty items like mugs or a hoodie.
Actually, the first batch of stickers came through from the states and
they look great!, I’ll be showing those in an upcoming vlog with the
t-shirt that’ll be available. Most likely, for a starting point, I’ll
do a basic white tee with Sammy Junior on it, similar to the one
that’s available for the monthly giveaway. The monthly giveaway is a
question I post at the start of each month about season one, and the
first correct answer posted can choose a Crabitat Channel t-shirt. So
far, they have been snapped up by United States residents, the U.S.
makes up the highest percentage of the subscribers at present.

Me: We look forward to all the stuff!, why do you think the US watches most?, you live in Australia?
Mat: Yeah great, thanks!, I do live in Australia, and I guess it’s just a numbers game with 23 million in Australia and 320 million in the US. My latest subscriber report showed Australia second, then Brazil, UK, Canada, Mexico, and Japan, so Australia is showing some support in front of some big countries. That’s the great thing about YouTube, it is really popular everywhere. I try to add captions after I upload a video, which can be done on YouTube, and they can be translated into over 100 languages, so that’s an awesome feature, I’m a few videos behind at the moment, so I’ll spend an afternoon adding subtitles in the coming days.

Me: It’s awesome you get support everywhere!, is there anything else your fans would be interested in knowing?
Mat: Anyone can contact me anytime through youtube.com/c/thecrabitatchannel ,I’m on twitter- Happy Days @thecrabitat ,also on Instagram- matedwards_thecrabitatchannel ,so numerous ways to get in contact. I post more personal stuff on instagram, whereas on twitter, I post a lot of statistics from YouTube, such as subscriber counts and view trends. My base website has a video editing service too, so anyone needing a holiday edited, a sporting event, or any footage edited, can go to the film editing link at http://www.thecrabitatchannel.com/ and I can arrange a quote, which is calculated from a ratio of raw footage to final product. Also, anyone that is interested in collaborations, cross promotions, has their own song that they want promoted, etc, can contact me and certainly I’m open to these things. I used a lot of purple-planet music in the first season and it was really great, their feel and variation was perfect for what I’m doing, but I’d like to add an independent artist or two into the mix as well. 

Me: Awesome!, what collaborations, cross promotions, and whatnot have you done so far?
Mat: I have done a couple of collaboration videos with smaller channels, which was really fun. Thomas Brown featured the Crabitat Channel on his latest Moving My Tank – TVR Road Trip 2.0 video, he has an aquarium channel with a bunch of interesting stuff. Currently, I’m doing weekly #MMM videos for McJuggerNuggets channel, this is a really fun competition where he nominates a video theme and anyone can make a video on it for the required length and rules, it lasts a week, and the videos are uploaded to YouTube under the #MMM(weekly number), he will choose winners and do shout outs, really cool and a great way to get exposure, I thought this was a great initiative from him, I reckon there’s probably room for this competition to grow too. 

Me: Very awesome!, thank you so much for this interview!
Mat: You’re welcome, it was fun!

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