How a YouTuber Created a Feature Film Through Unconventional Means

Danny Gervitz created a full-length feature film through non-traditional routes, paving an exciting way for newage filmmakers.

Screen still from Danny's latest film "I Think I'm Sick"

Danny Gervitz, a multifaceted filmmaker specializing in directing, writing, and cinematography, has released his debut feature film– I Think I’m Sick– using unconventional Creator Economy funding sources, promotion, and distribution. Rather than seeking private investors, he relied on the support of his YouTube community, brand partners, his own money, and other creators to help turn his dream project into a reality.

Tyler Wells and Danny Gevirtz at Manchester International Film Festival
Tyler Wells and Danny Gevirtz at Manchester International Film Festival

About The Film

In 2021, Gervitz began developing this dark comedy, coming-of-age film centered around teen mental health. It is loosely based on his and other people close to him in his life navigating mental health issues. The script was worked on and refined with the consultation of a licensed teen mental health professional to ensure an accurate and responsible handling of sensitive topics.

I Think I'm Sick follows Will, a young man grappling with his mental health. Tormented and seeking meaning in life, Will gets a second chance during his senior year after surviving a suicide attempt. He inadvertently joins the school's cross-country team, where he meets Robin, the girls' team captain who takes an unusual interest in his past.

The film deftly balances sensitive themes with a healthy dose of dark humor, creating a dynamic blend of comedy and drama. It draws comparisons to "The End of the F***ing World" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," showcasing nuanced characters, quirky moments, sharp editing, and those moments that teeter between laughter and solemnity.

Throughout production, he shared behind-the-scenes footage on his YouTube channel. The team successfully raised over $300,000 for the project through YouTube sponsors, creator investors, crowd-funding, and his own money.

A still from the film.
A still from the film.

Making a Feature Film Through Untraditional Means

It's like scaling up the YouTube content creator model, which typically involves creating valuable content that brands want to sponsor and building a community that enjoys what you’re creating.

On his YouTube channel, Danny started sharing his entire production process from video conceptualization to post-production aiming to create projects that would help aspiring filmmakers on their next big project. Views and brand sponsorships quickly followed.

After this YouTube success, he wrote the first draft of I Think I’m Sick. With the help of his Manager, Tyler Wells, he approached these same brands that sponsored his YouTube videos — Milanote, Musicbed, Aputure, Creative Solutions, ShotDeck, Epidemic Sound, Sony, and others to see if they’d be willing to sponsor a bigger “Behind the Scenes YouTube Series” for a feature film. They said yes, agreeing to sponsor this series and/or provide much-needed gear in exchange for user generated content.

Matti Haapoja also came on board financially, making behind-the-scenes content around the film on his channel, and served as Executive Producer. Carlo Stigliano came on to the project part way through the production as the Director of Photography (DP). Danny also tapped into his Philadelphia-based filmmaking network and worked with line producer Jon Applebaum from Appleslice Films and Ingoma Films who put together a talented cast and crew on a thin feature film budget.

Most indie films rely on personal funds or outside sources that take a considerable cut, so this was a unique way to mitigate financial risk, provide value for brands, and not have to give up any creative control on a film.

Danny doing his thing on set.
Danny doing his thing on set.

Why Taking the Leap Matters

Even with limited experience, dive into your projects headfirst. Don’t let the “traditional way” of things prevent you from starting!

Ironically, this film likely would have never been able to be made if Danny tried to do it the “traditional” way, yet won awards in traditional film festivals. I Think I'm Sick won 8 awards from 9 festivals, including Best International Feature at the Manchester International Film Festival and Best Screenplay at NY Film Week. Notable achievements for a small-scale production done in a new way!

Figuring out production, film festivals, distribution, streaming, and promotion can all be a complex process that involves steep learning curves and considerable bureaucratic hurdles. At each step of the way, Danny and his team realized that you don’t need to do things the “traditional way”.

Despite the competitive landscape in the traditional filmmaking world, this project illustrates what filmmakers can achieve on YouTube by finding the right collaborators, surrounding themselves with supportive peers, and diligently working to follow through with their ideas.

Gevirtz decided to turn down some traditional distribution deals that would have taken high percentage fees. So I Think I’m Sick was released on Friday, June 7th through their website.

"I wanted to prove that you don't need a studio; you can just make something. Whether or not Netflix wants to buy it, we made a movie. We got a group of people together, went out, and made something we're proud of."

On their website, you can rent I Think I’m Sick for $6.99. You will get bonus access to the Panel Q&A from their Release Screening at Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles. They also have a filmmaker bundle for $16.99 where you can also watch the Director’s Commentary and access the Production Script.

You can support Danny and watch I Think I’m Sick at

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