Whether or not you believe in the presence of ghosts, ghouls, and otherworldly beings, a classic spooky tale or swirling rumors of haunted places are bound to incite some level of curiosity even amongst the most skeptical. The local scene is rife in tales and legends – our pocongs, bunians, pontianaks, jembalangs and other equally frightening beings have stood their own against international horror content.
Inspired by the spookiness of the month of October, YouTube Malaysia rounded up some of the best up-and-coming creators in this genre – Asyraf Kamaruzzaman from the channel Ashhrapp Channel, Noorfaizal Rozi from the channel Faizal Rozi Vlogs, Nur Ainina Arifin from the channel Neyna Story and Hanizamal Abu Hanifah from the channel Solo Ambush – as they gave us a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into their content.
Asyraf was inspired by the growing number of creators who have been finding success on the platform, especially throughout last year. Although no doubt a risky move, especially since the pandemic hit right as he was about to really take off, Asyraf decided to leave his day job and dove right into content creation. He persisted and used the downtime to discover and develop his own style, and he quickly realised that there is only so much learning that can take place before he ultimately has to put his new skills to practice. As such, he set himself the target of hitting 1,000 views in a week – to his surprise, he surpassed his own expectations by reaching 7000 views within that time span!
“In the early days, I was still finding my space and I had not settled on the type of content I’d wanted to create. But I looked back at what came naturally to me, and what I’ve always had an interest in – and that was how I landed on the idea of sharing ghost stories. I love telling stories, and I think I have a knack for it too. This was what encouraged me to give it a go,” said Asyraf, who dedicatedly ensures that his content is prepared at least two weeks ahead of time.
Bringing the outdoors in was Noorfaizal Rozi, a clear rising star in the urban exploration niche. As an urban explorer, he investigates abandoned buildings and sites which are claimed to be haunted or mysterious.
For Faizal, the seeds were sown at a young age – his father would bring him along to check out historical sites and places with an interesting past for day trips. This experience, coupled with survival camps he’s attended, helped equip him for the task. That’s not to say that there are no challenges – in fact, quite a bit goes into the planning stage before he even gets to a location.
“There is no substitute for research. You’ve got to study the area and get as much information about it online, whether through desktop research and tools like Google Earth or simply by talking to the villagers in the area. You’ve got to factor in the right vehicle to take to the location, as the terrain can be challenging. There are also technical challenges – filming at night and not seeing anything, bad weather, equipment failing and breaking, the footage not being properly captured, and the added cost that comes with refilming. But sometimes, some places also challenge you mentally, especially sites which have a history of torture – you’re seeing, hearing and sensing things which cannot easily be explained,” elaborated Faizal on the preparation and challenges faced while on his explorations.
Also joining in the session was storyteller Ainina, better known as Neyna, whose focus is on crime, horror, and mysterious happenings. Neyna relies on her storytelling ability to captivate her audience and describes having to build her channel from the ground up as being one of the most challenging aspects of her YouTube journey. Still, Neyna distracted herself from the numbers and focused on consistently delivering content.
Not surprisingly, due to her focus and unique style of delivery, her subscriber count grew rapidly throughout the movement control order period.
“I’ve always had an interest in crime and horror since young, and I’ve had my own spooky encounter while in my university years but that only fanned the flames for me to pursue this as a hobby. And while I may have started my channel as an outlet of expression, I soon felt comfortable enough to do this full time.
Now, one of the things I’ve got to get used to is being a recognizable face. This has overall been a good thing, because it teaches me to be patient and to be more cautious of the way I conduct myself as I am no longer as anonymous as I once was before.”
Also highlighted in the session was paranormal investigator Hanizamal, more fondly referred to as Abang Hani of Solo Ambush, who was far from being a content creator when he started documenting his experiences. He was first and foremost a hardcore mountain climber, and has been involved in several search and rescue missions, including the one for the missing runner Acap in 2019. Having gone through many hikes and expeditions alone, Abang Hani earned himself the reputation of having nerves of steel and became the go-to person in his circle to investigate any “out of the ordinary” occurrences.
“I used to do live streams of my journeys to abandoned and mysterious locations on Facebook and I started getting more requests for highlights of my streams. This was where I found that YouTube could show my content to a wider audience and felt it would be best if I moved there – this shift became the foundation for my channel,” he explained.
“There are four things I look out for before heading for an exploration. First, the location has to actually have a verifiable spooky or creepy story. Second, it has to have good internet coverage to ensure good live streaming. I’d also have to know the exact GPS coordinates of the location. Last but not least, it is absolutely necessary that I have permission from the location owner or relevant authorities to conduct my exploration. If any one of these four conditions are not met, I am unlikely to proceed with the trip,” he added.
When asked about his future plans, Abang Hani is certain that he wants to venture out of Malaysian boundaries and cites the Bermuda Triangle and the Pyramids of Giza as some of his top destinations to explore when the situation allows.
While many of us may be familiar with the comedians, the singers, the vloggers, the gamers, the hobbyists, and the homespun chefs, today’s session reminds us that YouTube is a place for all sorts of content and creators to thrive – even the spooky ones. Generasi YouTube aims to continue to unearth and surface even more talented, unique, and up-and-coming creators across a range of genres.