Devin Graham: Never Shying Away
Through the lens of his camera, Devin Graham has witnessed some pretty incredible things—things he never could’ve imagined as a shy young man. But his time as a missionary in Jamaica taught him to step out of his comfort zone and today, he has worked with some of the most successful companies in the world, including Google and Disney. Although there have been key moments in Graham’s career where his standards have been called into question, he has remained true to a standard he set for himself and his channel long before those moments of decision arose.
Even though we may be quiet or a little bit quirky or a little bit weird each of us have these really awesome, amazing, unique talents, that are going to help inspire somebody else.
The Holy Land in 4k:
The World's Largest Nativity video:
Behind-the-scenes for the World's Largest Nativity Video:
Aruba Tourism video:
The video that features breakdancing to a hymn:
Hawaii in 4K, featuring a shot of Devin and his wife:
1:38- A Little Thing Called YouTube
4:55- Failure 24/7
7:39- Overcoming Shyness
12:59- Adjusting with Algorithms
16:26- The Emails That Make It Worth It
19:08- Decide in Advance
24:04- Sharing the Gospel Through Video
28:30- What the Best Filmmakers Do
32:38- Sharing a Video, Sharing Faith
35:10- Are We Not All Influencers
37:16- What Does It Mean To You To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones 0:00
As a boy, Devin Graham recalls being so timid, he rarely spoke. As a missionary, he wondered if he was even capable of doing the work he had been called to do. Little did he know that overcoming that shyness would be crucial as he would have pivotal moments in his life that would require speaking up and standing up for what he believes in.
His YouTube channel: Devin Supertramp, has 6 million subscribers, and Devin Graham has filmed videos of all kinds, all around the world. He has worked with some of the most successful companies ever, including: Google, Disney, Ford and Pepsi. In his short career, Devin Graham's videos have been viewed over 1 billion times.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I am so excited to have Devin Graham on the line with me today. Devin, welcome.
Devin Graham 1:03
Thank you. I'm glad to finally be on the show.
Morgan Jones 1:06
Well I, I'm telling ya, I've been a big fan and have followed your work for years now, and I just am so excited to hear a little bit more. I was joking with Devin before we started recording that this is the E! True Hollywood Story of Devin Supertramp. So let's get it.
Devin Graham 1:26
Let's dive into it. Let's do it. No holding back.
Morgan Jones 1:29
That's right, "uncut." So I guess my first question for you is, do you remember the first time you heard of YouTube? I think for all of us, we had no idea when certain social media platforms started to pop up, the role that they were going to play in our lives. But certainly in your case, YouTube has played a huge role in your life. So, did you have any idea at that point, that it would be such a big part of your life experience?
Devin Graham 1:58
No, I honestly had no idea whatsoever. I mean, after my mission, I started community college and I just asked people – this is an Oregon – "Where can I upload my videos onto the internet?" Because it wasn't really a thing at all. And one of my friends from high school was like, "Try a platform, it's really new, but it's kind of the big thing. Try YouTube." I'm like, "Okay, what is YouTube?" So I jumped on. And then I created my YouTube account, which was called "Snow Jamaica," That was my first YouTube channel you can look at that –
Morgan Jones 2:26
Because of your mission in Jamaica.
Devin Graham 2:28
Because of my mission in Jamaica, and I love snowboarding, so it was like two things I loved all into one. And that's where that channel came from, and nothing ever happened with it. But I just uploading like silly videos because I've always loved creating films, little short films. Was putting them up on YouTube, and then that's kind of how that started. But I never took it serious. I didn't take it serious until I was going to BYU – and this is 2008–2009 – where my roommate, Jeff Harmon, who – they have a little company called Vid Angel and Harmon Brothers and Dr. Bar Comedy, they started all that stuff. That was my roommate. And he was like, "YouTube is going to be the next big thing, Devin." And I was going to film school at BYU learning about how to do big Hollywood motion pictures. And he was like, "No, Devin – YouTube is where it's going to be at, like, that's where I see everything moving." And I was like, "I don't fully believe that, but I will give it a shot."
So he wanted me to promote their company, they just kind of launched through the internet through social media, it was called Orabrush, a tongue cleaner. And I did this little video for them. And they got like 26 million views give or take, and they started selling millions of products from this YouTube video. And from that experience, from Jeff Harmon, I learned like the power of the internet, the power of social media, the power of YouTube, and then he kind of took me under their wings, and I created like their first 25 videos that for the most part, most of them went viral. And I got to see that firsthand and learn from those guys who was also learning it for the very first time.
Morgan Jones 3:56
That's crazy. It's crazy how just hearing that and thinking about how the Lord puts people in our lives for a reason. So like, your college roommate, you wouldn't think that that would be anything of deep consequence. But in your case, it certainly was.
Devin Graham 4:13
Yeah, it literally changed the path of my life by having him as a roommate. And we didn't have – like he didn't go to school for film. Like I believe it was like business or something like that, like had nothing to do with my interest. But he suggested it. I dived into it, I explored it a little bit, and my entire career is so, I mean we're talking thousands of people that it's affected, just because he suggested: "You need to try YouTube," and just kind of seeing how it flourished. But it's been very exciting seeing how it's changed and evolved but my career would not have happened the way it did without Jeff Harmon.
Morgan Jones 4:45
So cool. So then – so you upload those videos, and then walk us through – there was a little bit of like a period of failure, right? After that.
Devin Graham 4:55
There's failure 24/7 as far as I'm concerned. After my roommate Jeff suggested YouTube's the next big thing. I was like, "Okay, let me think this through. I'm not gonna use my old channel ‘Snow Jamaica,’ that channels is, it was really old, nothing really happened with it.” So I started thinking what can I call my channel name if I wanted to have any chance of succeeding? So one of my favorite books I just finished, it was called Into the Wild. And it's about a guy, a true story named Christopher McCandless, and he goes out to live his dreams. When he does that, he calls himself "Alexander Supertramp." So I had just finished that book, it was fresh on my mind, so I was like, "I love that idea that he had of going out to live your dreams." So I called my channel "Devin Supertramp," giving homage to that whole idea of what he did, as far as going out to live your dreams.
And that's where I – my channel started, like the birthplace of it. It was just kind of like a book I had read, took that inspiration created my own channel, and then one of the first videos ever uploaded on that channel was just a music video of me and my friends from BYU. It was like a emceeing parody music video that's really ridiculous, and it's now unlisted, so nobody can see it. But I uploaded that video just for fun, and it started getting a decent amount of views just because people within our scene were sharing it.
And I was like, "Okay, there's something here." And then I went on a family vacation with my family to British Columbia, and I just filmed a little video with them, kind of home video, but more professional, put that on YouTube, and then it started getting thousands of views. So I'm like, "Okay, there's something really special here." And then my roommate, still Jeff Harmon, he was like, "Devin, there's a thing in Alpine, it's called the bike jump. Someone did a video on it and it has 2 million views, and it was all shot with a phone, and its really bad quality. I bet you take your background with filming that you've learned through film school and what you've done your whole life and do your own rendition of that and just see what happens."
So me and my friend, Dave Peterson, he did the music for it, and then I do this video in Alpine, and I put it on YouTube. And the first day got 1,000 views. And then the next day, it was like 80,000 views. And then four months later was a million views, and everything changed for me on social media once that video went live on the internet.
Morgan Jones 7:03
Just like snowballed.
Devin Graham 7:05
Just like that. And a lot of people say like, "Oh, you just had success instantly?" Well, not really. Like on that channel, yes. But it was like – my whole life, all I've been doing is filming and capturing content, and I've constantly been filming and learning each time making constant mistakes. So everything was building up for that moment to have that success. And then I knew how to handle that, just because I was surrounded by the right people.
Morgan Jones 7:30
Yeah, I want to go back. I mentioned earlier when you were talking about "Snow Jamaica," that you served your mission in Jamaica, and I'm curious about how that impacted your career and your life experience, and you mentioned in your email to me beforehand that you now serve in your ward with the Deacons. And so it's always fascinating to me that you have these people with these life experiences. And I think, to me, I think, "Oh, those Deacons must think this is the coolest thing ever that Devin Supertramp is like our Deacons quorum advisor." So how has Church service kind of played into your life and influenced or impacted your career?
Devin Graham 8:12
Yeah, no for sure. So I was crazy shy throughout high school – I'm still really shy, to be honest. But extremely shy, where some of my teachers thought I was a mute, like, didn't know how to talk – like that type of shy, so like extremely introverted. And then I went on my mission and then on your mission – and I was in Jamaica – and Jamaicans are very vocal, if you don't talk to them instantly, they think you're mad at them. So I learned I have to instantly, the second I see somebody, at least in Jamaica, I have to start talking to them, otherwise I could offend somebody.
So I learned really fast to be kind of thrown in the deep end of the pool, and having to overcome all my fears, all my anxiety, and I'm not perfect by any means with that, but my mission definitely shaped me to give me that courage to be able to speak and especially get thrown in the water and know how to handle difficult or terrifying circumstances. But I – the way I explain it now is, I'm an introvert in an extroverted job where my whole career is based off of constantly communicating, constantly traveling and meeting new people.
But one thing that Jamaica did for me as well – besides pushing me and making me more confident – is also just respecting other cultures and other people. And for me, I've traveled over 45 countries over the last like three or four years. And I love cultures of people, and I think a lot of that came back to my mission in Jamaica. So for me, it's just, it's fun seeing that come full circle where all these different elements had a huge part of my success. And at the time, it didn't feel like that. Like it was just a poor college student just trying to figure out how to survive, but I just happened to have a roommate where I mean we're not living in nice, fancy apartments just kind this crummy little rundown, not necessarily shack, but it wasn't the best, but I was put in the right people's hands to have much bigger opportunities and it's fun seeing that 5–10 years later of it actually like, "Okay, Heavenly Father was very aware of exactly what I was going through."
And then coming full circle as far as where I'm at now with the Church is I'm one of the counselors with the Deacons, and I serve with the Deacons. And we actually, now because of COVID and everything, we actually had Deacons yesterday, and we're planning all of our activities with the youth. And they were all like, "Devin, we want to make a YouTube video." So next week, Tuesday, the whole lesson, or what we're doing over Zoom, is we're preparing, each person in the Deacons is going to make their own YouTube channel. So it's, it's cool that I've been given these talents and I'm able to help the youth, and it's really fun, just kind of seeing that come full circle.
Morgan Jones 10:39
That's so neat. I think it's interesting hearing you talk about being shy. My dad always says that before his mission, he couldn't call and order his own pizza because he was so shy. And I thought as you were talking about – I had a Stake Young Women's president growing up, who talked to us about how she used to be really shy. And she realized that in order for the Lord to be able to use her, that she needed to step outside of that. And I remember – I was probably 13 years old at the time – hearing her talk about that, and thinking like, "I'm so glad that she overcame that because it's blessed my life." And so I think there are things like that – like being shy, being introverted, that we think, "Oh, I can't overcome this," but we learn, you know, that we can overcome weaknesses, and our weaknesses can become our strengths. And certainly hearing you talk, that's not a problem for you anymore.
Devin Graham 11:37
Yeah well and I think with that said, one of the biggest things is because I know exactly how that feels to be in isolation, to be afraid to talk, when I see other youth, especially like the deacons that I serve with now and I see those type of people, I gravitate to them more because I know how to connect with them, because I know exactly how that isolation feels. So it's just been fun.
Even on my mission, people were like – even though I'm this super quiet guy – they're like "Devin,” or “Elder Graham, like you are the reason that Heavenly Father sent you to us because you have certain talents that no other missionary was able to communicate." So even though we may be quiet or a little bit quirky, or a little bit weird, like each of us have these really awesome, amazing, unique talents, that's going to help inspire somebody else that needs that. There's a reason behind everything, even though at the time, I mean, I remember crying, "Heavenly Father, I'm a missionary, and I can't do your work right." Like, "I need your help." And it wasn't like it happened overnight, because the next morning, I didn't wake up just crushing it. It was like, two years later, I have a general idea, but it definitely does always come full circle. But it does take a lot of patience. I'm like, "Okay, it's gonna be okay." I have to fight through it, but there's a bigger plan here.
Morgan Jones 12:50
Yeah. I want to kind of dig in – if it's okay – into the world of YouTube. And I think having worked in media, it's been really interesting to watch the emerging trends, as far as YouTube goes, social media goes and recognizing that we are all – as content creators – are at the mercy of algorithms. So what has playing the game of algorithms taught you about success and flexibility?
Devin Graham 13:19
You have to be willing to play the game to stay in the game. And that doesn't mean you need to necessarily give up your standards by any means, but it sometimes means "Okay, it's something I don't necessarily 100% want to do, like I used to do." But when I started YouTube, I'd say the first two years, 90% of the videos I uploaded, they get a million views in the first day. Within 24 hours. Like I had one, I want to say like six months straight, releasing a video every week, and each one of those would get a million views in the first day, if not more. And nowadays, I have a much bigger audience. We just hit 6 million subscribers on YouTube on Sunday, and I upload a video now and maybe we'll get 50,000 views in a week. So it gets very discouraging, where I come from this past I've seen that ton of success, and now that success is much different. And sometimes we'll still see awesome success, but it's kind of measured on different levels now, because like you said, the algorithm on social media is constantly changing. And YouTube or Instagram or Facebook, they don't put out books on, "Okay, this is what we favor this week."
So we've had to do a lot of exploring and testing. "Okay, YouTube this week is favoring longer content. This week, they're favoring like the thumbnail and the title." So it's really hard to keep track of what's actually affecting what, so we definitely explore that a lot. We have three different YouTube channels, and one of the channels we launched recently, it's just relaxing nature videos around the world, it's called "Visual Escape." And on that channel, we put out a video every day. Now we couldn't do that on our main channel, "Devin Supertramp" but what we see is YouTube is favoring daily content, so it's just like you have to kind of change and adjust the way you play the game in order to stay in the game. But if you're stuck in your way, saying "This is the way I'm going to do it, I'm only gonna create this type of content," chances are, you're probably not going to succeed very long.
Morgan Jones 15:03
Yeah. Well, and I think it's so easy to think, you know, "I used to have this kind of success. I used to have these kinds of numbers." And now – like you highlighted – you're doing good to get a fraction of that in a week. So how do you keep from becoming consumed by the numbers? And how do you adjust your idea of what success looks like?
Devin Graham 15:30
Yeah, so I would say the way I see success is constantly changing for me to keep my sanity. And occasionally I do lose my sanity, and I'll have my breakouts, where I'm like bawling to my wife it's like, "We put so much time – so much of my heart went into this project, and it got hardly any views." And then I'll spend a day filming a project and you'll get 5 – 10 million views. So I think for me, at the end of the day is – I will do projects that I like, that I think will do well, and they'll usually tend to do well, and then I'll do projects that I'm extremely passionate about that I'm doing it not for our audience, they're going to see it, but I'm doing it for myself.
So for me, I think that's what's helped keep my sanity is making sure I'm still doing things that I'm extremely passionate about, but also doing things that I feel people still want to like really see and get excited about.
Morgan Jones 16:17
Yeah, I think one one question that I have for you that just came to me is, do you find fulfillment in feedback? In terms of like your content blessing people's lives. Because on our end, we actually have these conversations all the time at LDS Living about what we're doing and what is the measure of success. And it's been crazy to watch how we've had to adjust that measure of success over the course of even just COVID. Even just the last nine months. So do you get a lot of feedback that you find to be fulfilling? And how have you seen this content, bless and change people's lives?
Devin Graham 16:59
Yeah, so I remember while I was going to film school, and I was like, "Okay, I'm gonna start doing this YouTube thing," a lot of the filmmakers at BYU, they're like, "Oh, you're kind of wasting your time just putting little small videos on the internet, like, that doesn't seem very fulfilling, you're not affecting anyone's lives." And then I was like, "Okay, well, I'm still excited about it. I'm gonna try it out and see what happens." And I'd say roughly a year into it, I started receiving all these emails, and it wasn't emails from people in Utah, where I was based at the time, it was like international emails. I remember getting an email from a guy saying, "Just so you know, the video you just did in Enchantments, Washington, that was the hike I always did with my son. But I can't walk anymore. I'm too old, so I can't walk. So I was able to relive those experiences, and those memories with my son again, because of your video."
And then I got another email like a couple months later from a guy in Morocco, and he's like, "You'll never know who I am. You'll never see me. But I've been dealing with severe depression, and I decided I'm going to end my life. But right before I decided to end my life, I was like, I want to remember all the things I was going to be missing out on if I'm not here anymore. And I remembered your channel. So I spent the whole evening/night watching your channel." And he just said, "I was in tears, crying because I was like, 'I was gonna miss out on so much.' And you're the reason why I'm alive today. Because of all the videos you create, it inspired me to want to keep on living." So it's like, even though I'm doing sometimes what people are thinking are like, "Okay, those are just silly two, three minute videos." It's really awesome seeing people from all around the world reaching out to me and saying, "Because of this video, I'm alive today," or "Because of this video today, I am treating my kids a little bit different." I've had all those experiences that are like pretty, like, larger than life. But I like have the emails to prove like this stuff actually happened. And these are real people that I'll never see probably, but the emails to me are like what make it worth it from like a – I don't necessarily always get the views from those videos, but I'm getting that fulfillment in other ways, just how you're talking about.
Morgan Jones 18:59
Yeah, I want to touch on a few of my favorite – personal favorite - videos. One that I love is your "Holy Land in 4k" video. And one – before we get to that, though, one thing that has always impressed me about you, Devin, is that you've never shied away from sharing your faith in your videos. And I have admired that from a distance and appreciated it on a professional level. Why is that so important to you, to let people know what you believe, and how do you think that that has affected your career?
Devin Graham 19:35
Yeah, so it's a balancing act, 100%. And I've had to learn it through the process because I didn't go in like – I grew up LDS my whole life and I was like, okay, I know a lot of people in the industry or in the Hollywood world, they kind of have to give up those standards and lose those standards. I've even seen it with friends from BYU that kinda went different routes and are not happy now and having to deal with those consequences. So I was like, "Okay, I'm going to stick to my standards."
And earlier on, I had Budweiser reached out to me and they're like, "Hey, Devin, we want to offer you X amount of dollars." And it was the largest amount of money I have ever seen – probably to this day. And I was like, "That is a huge paycheck. And I'm just kind of starting out, and that would be awesome." But I turned it down. And then from that experience, though, is I've had people, for example, like Disney that reached out, and one of the requirements is, "Have you ever worked with an alcohol company? Because if so, we can't work with you." So it's by saying no to bigger opportunities, I get to do the opportunities that are actually more exciting and bigger to me – as far as what brings me joy. And I'm still keeping my standards because of it. So it's just been really fun seeing that process. Now, what I will say, though, is it wasn't like easy at the start. Because if someone comes to you offering you a half a million dollars, or whatever that is, if you're given a percentage like well, at what point do you say yes to? But it definitely for me has always paid off. But it was like deciding that from the very beginning of, "Well, why don't you smoke? Or why don't you do this?"
Well, I decided earlier on that I was going to keep that commitment no matter what. And I had a similar experience where I got hired to do a big project with a camera company, we're filming at the NFL Stadium in Florida. And while we were filming, I was like, "Okay, one of the things that I want to make sure, everyone is modest in our videos – or as modest as we can get them with what we're doing. And all the cheerleaders came out, we're doing this with the NFL as well, all the cheerleaders come out. So we're talking like 50 – 60 cheerleaders, and they were wearing about as skimpy of outfits as possible. And I was like, "Oh, no, what am I going to do? This is my shoot. It's going on my channel, but I want to make sure that I'm having people modest as far as keeping my standards that I believe in." And I walked up to the coach, and I'm like, "I can't have all these women out here dressed like this, because it's gonna affect my image and what I believe is right," And he's like, "Well, this is what sells. Sex sells. And this is the way it's going to be." So you have me, this little kid – relatively, right? – in front of all these women in the NFL stadium, and I'm like, "Okay, my standards are right now on the line, what am I going to do about it?" And luckily, the other people on my team, were also LDS, and we kind of talked about it for a minute, and then I went back out there. And I'm like, "All you women are very beautiful. But I want this video to be seen by everybody. By all countries, by all standards. In order to do that, we need to be modest. And I promise you that this will be huge, that this video will be seen by so many more people if we can do that." And I didn't even talk to the coach because the coach I knew wasn't gonna be happy. And then all the women left and they came out in much more fitting outfits for what we were trying to do. But for me, like that was my turning point of "I can live my faith while still being in the entertainment business." And it doesn't have to be offensive, but it's like just letting people know the vision of the bigger picture. And I have just seen so much success by keeping those standards. But I always look back to like that moment in time where I had to make that decision. And then like a year later, I got asked by Aruba tourism, and I had my whole pitch of, "Okay, these are the standards that I do on every shoot. If you guys want people in very small bikinis, I won't do that. But I will do this, and this is a way we can make it work." And here we are today.
Morgan Jones 23:18
That is, that's such a cool story. And I think, you know, it's cool whether we're talking YouTube videos that are seen by millions of people, or just little moments in people's lives, like we all have those moments that we can point back to that are like, "Okay, I'm either going one direction, or I'm going another direction." And I think it's so cool that you were bold enough to stand up for what you believed in, in a pretty high-pressure situation. I was gonna say, no pressure Devin, no pressure at all.
Devin Graham 23:51
Yeah, I was terrified.
Morgan Jones 23:53
I believe it. So, going back to this "Holy Land in 4k" video, which if people have not seen this, I am going to admit something to you. My boyfriend told me that I needed to watch it, and I had never seen it before. And he's like, "It's basically like, it's like a Mormon message. It's amazing." And I was like, "Okay," you know, I'm expecting just like video of the Holy Land and then all the sudden you start hearing Elder Holland and Elder Uchtdorf and I'm like, "Oh, I see what he means." And so can you tell me a little bit about how that video came to be and how you chose to use general authorities words in it, and also how you chose which general authorities words to use in it?
Devin Graham 24:35
Yeah, so for that project, and the guy at the time on my team, his name was Parker Walbeck, he was the one that actually made that video happen, but I know the whole background story. He was on my team and everything. It was a wallet company that does a lot of service projects, they reached out and said, "Hey, would you like to go with us to Jerusalem to shoot a video?" And I was off on another project, so I sent my right hand guy Parker at the time. Parker Walbeck, who has had an awesome amazing career as well. So Parker went out to Jerusalem and he just started shooting beautiful stock footage of all these locations. And he, he got back and one of our things I'd say from the beginning is how can we be cool members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and not like so much in your face, where it gets annoying because I do see that, but we want to be looked at as like, cool members of the Church and not kind of weird or unique, but people – we want people to relate with this I think is what it really comes down to, while still being able to share the gospel in a natural way.
So that was the whole idea with that video is what Parker was thinking, is let's shoot locations that people love, regardless of what background you come from religiously, and in a nonchalant way, not in your face way, let's use general authorities or Prophets, Apostles voices to be in this video. And that's really what it came down to is then Parker started jumping on YouTube and just looking it up. And we're like, "Well, do we reach out to the Church? It really shows the Church in a really positive light," and I can't remember, I don't think we really reached out to the Church. I just think we took those voices and we put it to YouTube, but it was just really cool, just seeing that response and seeing so many people share it. And people wrote back to me, and they're like, "Devin, I've been struggling with this in the Church, and then this just cleared my head and just like reminded me of the bigger picture." So just really fun, cool, exciting seeing that play out. And if you go through our channel, you'll see several videos. For example, I have one of break-dancers breakdancing, but it's to a Church hymn. And it was one of the first videos I ever uploaded on YouTube, and one of the channels or one of the big internet websites that always kind of fights against the Church, or a lot of religious stuff, at least, they posted that on the front page of their website. So it was like a cool way of like sharing the gospel to a group that like kind of pushes away –
Morgan Jones 26:47
Devin Graham 26:48
Yes, exactly, but it was like it brought both communities together. So it was just like it was a breakdancing video, and I put Church gospel music to it, and for some reason, something special happened and that video blew up. So it's just really fun. Like, how can I put my own beliefs into videos, not in your face preaching to everyone saying this is the way it should be, but just nonchalant ways that people will feel peace, that they'll feel happiness, and then they want to look more into it. And I mean, for us, that's been one of the really cool, exciting ways to see it. Now, there has been times though, like certain countries we've traveled to, I think of New Zealand and Guatemala, where we actually put on fire sides where we reached out and said, "Hey, we'd love to put a fireside at the church, just for our followers.” To get them in the Church, and then we're going to talk about like what we love to do, but how that also relates to our own beliefs.
So we did one in Guatemala. And we got, I want to say like 200 – 300 people there, and they were our fans. So one of the guys he traveled like nine hours in a bus to be there. To be in like a Church and I have translators because I don't speak Spanish, and they translated it all for them. But it was just like a really awesome experience and then New Zealand, and then like a couple months later a guy wrote me and he is like, "I was at that event you put on at your Church," And he said, "Just so you know, I'm now a member of the Church." And then he sent me a picture of him pre–baptism right after baptism, getting baptized, like in a lake in New Zealand. So it was just cool, like, ways that I can be natural, be myself, but also share some of my faith where it's not in your face, but still sticking to the principles that I know are true.
Morgan Jones 28:21
Absolutely. And you actually met your wife giving a devotional, is that right?
Devin Graham 28:27
That's correct. So yeah, BYU Hawaii reached out to us and said, “We would love for you to do an entire devotional in the auditorium” –gym or whatever it was. So they had four influencers. It was me, another guy YouTuber Stuart Edge, Tiffany Are – uh . . Arnold? I screwed up her last name. I'm sorry, Tiffany, if you're watching right now, and then David Archuleta. So all four of us got there, and we were going to be speaking to all the students and then afterwards, the girl who's in charge of social media, Megan, who's now my wife, she – when we went there, she was like, "Something special is going to happen in my love life." And she's telling me this afterwards, not while I'm meeting her for the first time –
Morgan Jones 29:07
She's like, "Hi – I have a feeling that something's about to happen."
Devin Graham 29:10
Yeah, it wasn't weird like that, but she really thought she was gonna marry David Archuleta. So she had a big letdown. But when she met me, it was like, oh, I realized that she was on one of my shoots in Hawaii two years ago, and when she was interviewing me, she's like, funny, charming, I was like, "This girl's rad. She's awesome." So I asked her her name, and I write it down on my phone, making it look very, I'm not writing it down on my phone. And then I jump on Facebook that night to add her on Facebook and just say, "Hey, it was awesome meeting you." And it said she has sent me a friend request two years ago, but I had never accepted it. So I was like, "No!" So I ended up accepting her friend request and then we dated long distance for about four months and I kept on having shoots where film projects I had in Hawaii, but in reality, it was more of I wanted to take her out on a date.
Morgan Jones 29:56
Conveniently you had shoots.
Devin Graham 29:57
Yeah, exactly. And I'd have something I had arranged, but it was mostly to see if there was anything there. And then we became best friends. We dated for a year and a half. And now we've been happily married for four years and have a one-year-old baby who's perfect.
Morgan Jones 30:13
So, so neat. I, I was watching yesterday, your "Hawaii in 4k" video and I loved how there's like this part where it has the motivational speaker and they say – the voiceover says – "Who do you love? Who has loved you? Tell them. Tell them now." And it shows like a shot of you and your wife, and I just thought, that's so cool to be able to make that a part of what you do. How has being married changed your career?
Devin Graham 30:40
I think for me, what being married has done for me is put everything in perspective. I remember I'll go into film school, our producer, Tom Morell, he said, "The best filmmakers are people that go out and actually live life, not the people that are making movies 24/7." And that's always resonated with me is like – sometimes I get so focused on work that I'm not becoming a better human being. Which, the best storytellers, the best filmmakers are people that have dealt with heartfelt trauma or have dealt with love and all these passionate things. And I think for me, that's what it's done more than anything. And I'm so hardcore into filming and social media and my wife is like, normal. Well rounded. Awesome. Wants to have really nothing to do with filmmaking, 100% supportive, but I feel she balances me out, and she's made me such a better person because of that. And I mean, she's like the spiritual giant that I'm constantly learning from 24/7, it's like our first year of marriage, we moved to Hawaii because we had opportunity to live on the beach for a year. So we took that.
And then once we moved back, though, she was volunteering at the temple two or three times a week. And it was just like her example, throughout our marriage, pre–marriage, has just been awesome. As far as like – she is my rock. And I always got to be careful talking about my wife or my son, because I'll get a little emotional, but they have definitely been the people – and especially now with like COVID and the world kind of changing where it can feel very depressing, work can be the hardest day of my life, but I go home and I see my wife smile, and my son crawl over to me. Life is okay. Life is the best thing in the world. Like, that's what keeps me going. And that's what gets me excited. So it's been game changing for me and definitely help well round me much better than I was before at least.
Morgan Jones 32:24
Good. Well shout out to your wife.
Devin Graham 32:27
Shoutout to Megan Graham. baby.
Morgan Jones 32:29
Another thing that I got to actually witness firsthand, I think I was an intern at Deseret News at the time, was the world's largest Nativity. Which, has that gotten beat out now? I was like, YouTubing world's largest Nativity and somebody, somebody gave us some competition, it looks like.
Devin Graham 32:48
Oh. I need to check that out. I have not – I've not followed the scene crazy, but it's bound to happen eventually.
Morgan Jones 32:56
Yeah, yeah. But at the time – was the world's largest Nativity, Guinness World Record. And I wondered as we approach Christmas time, if you could reflect on what that video meant to you and kind of that experience because I think that's something I – my boyfriend's sister-in-law, they watched that video like once a week.
Devin Graham 33:16
Okay, wow. Even after and before Christmas, too?
Morgan Jones 33:19
That's right. Yup.
Devin Graham 33:20
Yeah, for people not watching, what they decided to do – and Jeff Harmon my old roommate, he was a part of this as well, because he's a part of a lot of social media, big things. But they wanted to do the world's biggest nativity scene, and essentially, it was like a music video, but super, like peaceful and just this really awesome idea with a drone shot looking down with creating like an ornament of Christ. And the Nativity, the whole episode, but they got, I don't know, 20 – 30 social media influencers, and not everybody was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – day Saints, some were of other faiths. But they got all these amazing people together here in Provo slash Orem, the Rock Canyon, I believe. And we filmed this big scene, and then we filmed it at a house, the whole Christmas sequence. But it was just cool seeing all these other influencers, be a part of something. And then everybody was sharing on social media, the video, but they're also sharing their faith.
We did a big behind the scenes video for our channel where we're interviewing like the Piano Guys, a lot of other people that were in it, and then I shared my own testimony on that. And it was really awesome because generally, I can't get away with sharing my testimony to our audience, because it would be a little bit over the top, maybe at sacrament, but not so much that. But for that, for that event for those videos and my testimony being connected to that, I got, I got away with it. And it was just awesome seeing people of other faiths because I had like Muslims and all these different religions commenting and saying, "Regardless of what you believe, like I felt something too. And I can respect your beliefs and for standing for your beliefs." And it was just, it was just a really awesome missionary experience that was really organic. That I feel did a lot of good for a lot of people.
Morgan Jones 34:57
For sure. I want to ask you something before we get to our last question, as you were just talking, I was thinking about – we've talked on this show before the term "Influencer." And I have said how I used to really hate that word. And then I kind of had this, this perspective shift where I was like, you know what, I think an influencer is . . . all of us are influencers, essentially, because we all have influence within our realm of contacts and people that we associate with. And so while some people's reach may be larger than others, we all have the opportunity to have influence. What would you say about that? Cause, you've worked with a lot of them.
Devin Graham 35:46
I've worked with a lot of them from all around the world, and one of the biggest things I've learned is, even if I have 6 million – 10 million followers, and I put out something, it doesn't mean my audience is going to take that serious. Unless it's something that they grew accustomed to me talking about over a long period of time. So for example, if I talk about a camera product, I can push that and people get really excited about it. But if I talk about something else that has nothing to do with cameras, it means nothing to my audience. There are so many other people out there that may have super small audiences, but as long as they have some kind of niche, they have a lot of power. And I think of someone like my sister, Lindsey, who doesn't have – I mean, she doesn't, she's not what you'd consider an influencer. She just has like her family and the people on the ward and the community. But I feel when she tries to say something, sometimes she can do a lot more good than I can, just because she has a certain niche that I can't connect with.
So I feel everyone has a voice regardless of the millions or the 10 followers you have, that if you have 10 followers that sometimes can be better than having a million people that don't really care about what I have to say today.
Morgan Jones 36:52
Yeah. And I think to that point, you know, talking about consistency, if you haven't been consistent in your messaging, nobody's going to listen anyway, and so a lot of that influence is dependent on our being consistent. Devin, as we wrap up, my last question for you is the question that we ask at the end of every episode of this podcast, and that is: what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Devin Graham 37:20
For me, it's about deciding now that I'm gonna stand in holy places essentially. That, “Okay. Today I am going to live my standards, and I will continue to do that tomorrow.” I've had so many friends not make that choice. They have a testimony, but once they're put in any kind of situation, they'll make bad choices. So for me, it's about, "Okay, today, I am going to believe in the Gospel, I am going to stand by the gospel and make sure I live those principles for the rest of my life, and then make those choices every day." But for me, the gospel has been huge. It's shaped my career, it's brought me peace when I am terrified. And this made everything make sense when nothing around me makes sense. But for me, being all in it just committing now, and living those principles that you believe in.
Morgan Jones 38:10
Thank you so much, Devin. It's been so fun talking to you. And I just appreciate your time and your work so much.
Devin Graham 38:17
Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Morgan Jones 38:21
We are so grateful to Devin Graham for joining us on today's episode. If you'd like to learn more about Devin, be sure to check out our show notes where we will have links to every video we referenced on this episode. As always, you can access our show notes at LDS living.com/allin.
Thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix at Six studios for his help with this – and every –episode and thank you so much for listening. We'll be with you again next week.