YouTube Millionaires: Nick Pro’s parkour skills send him soaring over 10 million subscribers

By 04/13/2023
YouTube Millionaires: Nick Pro’s parkour skills send him soaring over 10 million subscribers

Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we–in partnership with global creator company AIR Media-Tech–profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each creator has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments here.


As you probably know, our YouTube Millionaires series generally spotlights creators who have recently (or recently-ish) hit one million subscribers on YouTube. But very occasionally, we profile creators hitting bigger milestones. This is one of those weeks, and we’re checking in with Nick Pro, a parkour master whose recreations of major movie stunts have helped bring him more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube and just over one million followers on TikTok.

Pro’s interest in cinematic parkour didn’t stem from a childhood spent doing gymnastics or martial arts. Instead, it was prompted by a YouTube video and a dumb (sorry, Nick) idea.

Tubefilter

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When Pro was 14, he and a friend watched a YouTube video from parkourist Oleg Vorslav. Later that day, they were screwing around on the trampoline, and Pro’s friend said he should try doing a flip without the trampoline.

“I’m like, ‘That’s a genius idea!'” Pro says. He climbed up onto his back deck, did a flip off it into the grass, and landed perfectly on his feet. That landing was “such a thrill,” he says, that he and his friend went around for the rest of the day, with Pro doing flips off anything they could find, and his friend filming it.

These days, things aren’t that different. Pro still spends his time finding things to flip off, and films his successes. One thing has changed, though: there is now, thankfully, a lot more safety equipment involved.

Check out our chat with him below.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tubefilter: If somebody is reading (and/or watching this), and has never seen your content, doesn’t know who you are, can you give me a little rundown about you?

Nick Pro: I’m Nick Pro and I’m from Canada. I’ve been doing YouTube for about six years now, full-time. Most of my content is based off of parkour, acrobatics, and a lot of nerdy stuff, like geek culture. One of my most popular series is where I recreate the tricks and the flips that they do in movies such as the Marvel ones, Sonic, stuff like that.

Tubefilter: I just got done watching your Black Panther: Wakanda Forever video, which was very cool.

Nick Pro: Thank you. I really like that one. Black Panther, it’s very acrobatic, and I have two friends who did stunts for that movie, so I was very excited to do that.

Tubefilter: Oh, rad! How did you get started with parkour?

Nick Pro: Basically, when I was 14, my friend showed me a video of parkour on the internet. It was one of the first parkour videos on YouTube. It was called Russian Climber, by Oleg Vorslav. Then, later that day, I was just doing flips on the trampoline, and he’s like, “Oh, you should try it without the trampoline, off your deck onto the grass.” I was young, I was 14, so I didn’t think twice about it. I’m like, “That’s a genius idea!” First one ever, I landed on my feet, no hands, and I got such a thrill from it that the entire day, we went around the neighborhood, and I did flips everywhere, all over, and just recorded it. I think that’s also where the passion for creating videos and stuff slowly started to build.

Tubefilter: Were you into gymnastics as a kid?

Nick Pro: Nope. Nah, I was into nothing. That was it. That was the start. I didn’t have any base, no gymnastics, no martial arts. I took a few small trampoline classes when I got a trampoline at home, because my parents wanted for me to learn to be safe, but besides that, I’m self-taught parkour athlete for 17 years now.

Tubefilter: I’m very surprised, that first time, that you managed to land on your feet and everything was fine.

Nick Pro: Yes. Over the years, I’ve definitely developed a sense of protection, and use more safety equipment. Most of the times, now, when I can, I do use mats and stuff, except when I train outside, I still do flips on concrete, but yes.

Tubefilter: Once you realized parkour was going to be a thing for you, how did you start to learn all of these things? How did you escalate your skills?

Nick Pro: I basically just went on YouTube and looked at videos. Back then, there weren’t really many tutorials, so I basically just had to look at a video and tried to learn the movement and the tricks by myself. There were some open gym sessions at gymnastic centers, where I could teach myself, but on their equipment. That helped a lot, for some of the more dangerous tricks, but yes, it was mostly from just looking up YouTube videos and looking up new tricks to learn from there.

Tubefilter: What’s really funny to me, I’ve been doing these columns for like five years now. I’ve interviewed hundreds of creators, and it’s very funny to me how a lot of the ones who have really big platforms in these unique professional niches, almost all of them tell me, “Oh yes, I learned this from YouTube.” It’s interesting how you end up coming back to YouTube and making your own content for other people to learn from. It’s a very cool cycle I see repeated over and over.

Nick Pro: Yes! It’s true. Most of my hobbies and skills that I have, I also learned from YouTube, mostly. To me, it’s the go-to. When I don’t know how to do something, I just YouTube, like, “How to fix my fireplace,” and it works. It’s the best. I love the platform, YouTube, for that.

Tubefilter: Right? When did video come into it for you? was YouTube just the natural choice for you to start uploading to?

Nick Pro: It was the natural choice. I think my first parkour video that I made myself was just a compilation of tricks, and it was in 2009, on a separate channel. The first video ever on my channel was in 2010. It was just to share with the world my tricks and stuff. It wasn’t anything special. I didn’t try to go viral or anything. It was in 2017, where me and my friend had a conversation, and he just tells me, he’s like, “Yo, I want to try to become a YouTuber. Let’s get the grind on.” That’s when it really started.

Tubefilter: Do you remember how your channel first started taking off? Was there a specific video that really brought you a lot of views, a lot of attention, or did it grow slowly over time?

Nick Pro: I was doing videos, like two or three a week, with the friend I just mentioned. I went on a cruise with my family, where the cruise didn’t really have internet unless you paid for it, and then one day I just caved in. I’m like, “You know what? I’m just going to get internet. I’m too curious about my YouTube stats.” Then I opened up the app, I see the huge spike in my numbers, and I’m in shock. I’m like, “Oh, my gosh.” It was stunts from the Deadpool movie.

That one is the first one ever that did really well and started to gain me some traction, and about one week later, I hit 100,000 subscribers.

Tubefilter: Yes. That leads right into my next question! Obviously you have this big Marvel series, so how does your passion for these movies play into your ability to make content that you love?

Nick Pro: I think they ended up going really hand in hand with each other. I don’t think I would’ve had my success had I not mixed both my passions for geek culture and parkour, because parkour videos, on their own, do not do amazingly. You need to mix it with a niche, mix it with another subject to reach a broader audience than just parkour people. I believe that’s something that I achieved through Marvel and whatnot.

By using that, I was able to reach the Marvel audience and the parkour audience, and it helped me grow a lot faster by mixing them together.

Tubefilter: Take your most recent, take your Wakanda Forever video. What’s the production and planning process for breaking down all of these stunts and putting everything together? How much time goes in behind the scenes, and how much work? Give us a walkthrough.

Nick Pro: First thing I do is, I watch the movie, and on a piece of paper, or on a note on my phone, every single time there’s a trick that I think I could recreate, or even sometimes just a jump with a cool pose that I can potentially get a screen grab for a thumbnail. I write down the time, and then I’ll import the file onto my editing software so I can get all the stunts and all the tricks. I’ll get the compilation of tricks and then bring that to the gym.

At the gym, I look at the angle of the trick and I’ll try to recreate it and stuff. Usually, I’ll get it in the first couple tries. I always try to get two successful attempts of each trick in each angle in case one of them lost focus or something like that, or something went wrong, just to have like extra options. Usually, I also film in two separate sessions. I’ll film one session, go edit it, and then the second session I’ll go in and film the stuff that I want to tweak or perfect.

Maybe I said something and stutter it a little bit, or I didn’t like the way I explained something. I’ll go back in the gym to really perfect that little segment. In the editing, I still edit most of my videos myself, especially the stunt ones, because I believe that my knowledge of movement helps me edit and line up both stunts. I’ll put a video of me at the exact same time as, for example, Black Panther doing a trick.

I’m not sure if most editors would have the knowledge of movement and parkour to sync it up as well as I do, so it’s hard for me to trust anyone else with that. I’ve been doing it myself since day one. Then after that, I’ll usually focus on thumbnail. I’ll try to find some screen grabs with the coolest pose from the character, like Black Panther, and I’ll usually get two or three of them for AB testing. Usually, I do those at home instead of at the gym.

At home, I do have all the equipment and stuff, so it makes it easier. I also have a flat white wall, which is a lot less cluttered than in the gym, so it looks a little more crisp for thumbnails.

Tubefilter: That’s wild to me. I think I can count on one hand the number of creators with a platform of your size I’ve spoken to who are like, “Yes, I still do all my own editing.”

Nick Pro: I’ve been told many, many times I should start delegating, and I’ve tried, but every time I try, it’s hard to find people with the right skills. There’s tons of them out there, but then there’s a lot of people who pretend to be expert editors. They’re also maybe used to editing different types of videos than I have, so that’s totally understandable, but 95% of the work, all the editing, all of the thumbnails, it’s still all me.

Tubefilter: I see the point in people saying you need to delegate, but also, I’m a horseback rider, and have been for most of my life, and so if I’m filming a jumping video, I would want somebody who’s familiar with that particular sport. To find that kind of expertise and also somebody who’s a capable video editor is just insanely difficult.

Nick Pro: That’s right. A lot of YouTube videos have maybe more of a meme-style editing, or maybe more childish, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but for some videos, it’s not necessarily the vibe I’m going for. It’s hard to find a YouTube editor that can match my style. As much as there’s definitely hundreds of them out there, it’s just hard to find.

Tubefilter: So you don’t work with an editor, but how has your team and things behind the scenes evolved since you’ve been on YouTube?

Nick Pro: Since I do everything myself, mostly, it hasn’t evolved too much. I pay my sister to do some trends research for me, and also answer some comments and stuff, to build community on my channel, but besides that, I usually just get some of my friends to film for me. Back in the day, I would even get my dad to film for me when no one else was available. I usually have the same friends filming me. Even from day one, my friend, Brandon, he’s been helping me. We were at the gym filming until one or two in the morning, in 2017, and I think he was over yesterday and we were filming.

Tubefilter: I noticed that you are producing a little bit of short-form content, but it seems like you’re mostly still focused on long-form. Can you talk a little bit about the balance and whether or not short-form is appealing to you?

Nick Pro: That’s actually a huge–I don’t want to say dilemma, but debate, on my channel right now, which direction to go. Shorts just got monetized, but the CPM isn’t as high on it as me and my other YouTuber friends had anticipated.

Tubefilter: What is it like, compared to your long-form videos?

Nick Pro: My CPM is not as good, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m sharing the money with the people who own the rights to the audio, or…For Shorts, specifically, a lot of my audience is in the eastern countries, such as India and whatnot, with lower CPM. For me, it is 1 cent CPM. For my friend, he can get a little bit more. I think on some videos, he can get up to a five or seven, which is on the higher end. On one day–this is in Canadian dollars–but on one day, I had 5 million Shorts views and made $100. It’s just like…

Tubefilter: Ugh. That’s grim.

Nick Pro: It’s understandable, because it is Shorts. I get it, but with 5 million views on long-form videos…Of course you can’t compare them, but it’d be a couple hundred times more.

Tubefilter: We heard 5 to 10 cents in the first week that it debuted, but I figured it was probably lower for a lot of people.

Nick Pro: That’s also what someone else had told me. I think it really depends on the specific video, where it gets viewed, and if it uses a popular song that is copyrighted.

Tubefilter: So you have this dilemma about whether or not short-form is a worthy investment of your time.

Nick Pro: Yes. It seems like on my channel, Shorts are being promoted to a wider range of audience instead of just my parkour and Marvel niches. Because of that, it’s creating a bit of a dilemma in my audience, like a conflict. For me, it’s been very beneficial for growth. I have some Shorts that have given me over 140,000 subscribers just from one Shorts.

Tubefilter: Oh, wow.

Nick Pro: A few are at over 100 million views, and a lot of fun ones with my friend Matt that we do together, a little game together, using parkour, but it seems like it’s affected the long-form videos on my channel.

Tubefilter: Negatively or positively?

Nick Pro: Negatively.

Tubefilter: Why? Do you feel like it’s the recommendation algorithm?

Nick Pro: I don’t believe it’s the algorithm. The YouTube algorithm is very advanced, and as much as, at the very beginning of Shorts, there was a few bugs, they fixed it very, very quickly. I think it was just maybe my strategy, where the videos that I make with my friend are maybe entertaining to almost everyone, but then those people who watch those videos are not necessarily interested in Marvel or in parkour, so it seems as they don’t click on my long-form videos. The best strategy would have been to have Shorts that are very, very similar to my long-form videos. When I posted those, they just did not do as well, so that’s why I went with that direction.

Tubefilter: Complicated, huh.

Nick Pro: Yes, it’s very complicated. I’m still in the process of trying to figure out the best route for my channel with that, because I still love making Shorts because you can reuse them on every platform–TikTok, Reels. It’s very fun to make, and they’re a lot easier to make than long videos.

Tubefilter: I feel like they’re a lot less pressure too.

Nick Pro: Yes, exactly. If it flops, it’s not as bad as my one long video that I post a week. If that flops, it’s a bit of a shame, and I have to wait one week to post another one.

Tubefilter: That makes sense. I’ve heard from a lot of people that there’s just a lack of cohesion between Shorts and long-form viewership.

Nick Pro: You see a lot of Shorts creators that are primarily Shorts creators, but their long-form videos get almost very, very little amount of views, compared to their long-form. There’s one that has 20 million subscribers and has billions of views, but you look at his long-form and they’re lucky sometimes to pass even one million views.

Tubefilter: I will say, I feel like you are in a better position, as somebody who is experienced with and built their platform off successful long-form content. Looking at getting into Shorts is a much better situation than getting popular with Shorts and struggling to figure out how to get into long-form. That is an advantage.

Nick Pro: I agree. It’s definitely better to be on this side than the other side. I don’t believe I need to do Shorts if I don’t want to, whereas Shorts creators, if they want to increase their income, probably do have to start making long-form at some point.

Tubefilter: Switching gears a little. What was it like for you to hit 10 million subscribers?

Nick Pro: Oh, It was very, very satisfying, because I’m a very goal-oriented person, and that has been my goal for years. When I first reached my first million subscribers, that was exciting. Then 2, 3, was also exciting. Five was halfway to the 10 million. Also exciting. After that, every million was just the next step to 10 million, like 6, 7, 8, 9. Then I was just only looking forward to the 10, and the next play button as well. I’ve been waiting for it for years, working like 60 hours a week. It was so exciting.

Tubefilter: It’s a huge milestone, so congratulations.

Nick Pro: Thank you. I’m very excited.

Tubefilter: What is your next goal? Do you have any goals or plans for this coming year? What else are you looking forward to?

Nick Pro: I am trying to grow one of my second channels to a million, which doesn’t sound as exciting, but I’m trying to collect the Play Buttons a little. Not nearly as fun, but I think the next step I’m looking forward to is 20 million, which I know is not official. I’ve seen a few people with a 20 million Play Button, and I think there were just exceptions, because they were America’s Got Talent and Marvel, so I don’t believe that they just hand them out to everyone. In the off chance that I can get one, I think that would be exciting, because it’s a custom one. The diamond play button for 10 million, it’s not custom to the person, where this one, the Marvel one, was Marvel-themed.

Tubefilter: What’s the second channel that you’re working on building up?

Nick Pro: It’s just a second channel that I had called Nick Pro Parkour. It’s where I posted some parkour tutorials and parkour content that I knew wouldn’t do well on my main channel, but I’m still very passionate about parkour, so in the last year, I converted it to a Shorts channel, where it got momentum and got me another silver Play Button here. I just pretty much repost Shorts there and use it to experiment. I have three channels in total, and it helps me experiment with Shorts without necessarily affecting my main channel first.


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