YouTube Millionaires: Broken Finger Paradise makes you fear the mundane

By 06/01/2023
YouTube Millionaires: Broken Finger Paradise makes you fear the mundane

Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we–in partnership with content creator tool Gyre–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.

You’ve probably seen Mario. But have you seen weird Mario?

That’s how Freddie pitches his art.


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Freddie has made dozens of short animations that twist popular TV shows and video games into uniquely horrifying scenarios. Among UsSpongeBobNintendo‘s vast cast of characters, Garfield, and more have gotten the “weird” treatment on Freddie’s YouTube channel Broken Finger Paradise, where his signature style transforms them into rawboned monstrosities.

But he also has his own original character, Mr. Smiles, who’s just as unsettling as his fandom creations–and also emblematic of his overall art goals.

“I think if you’re doing something entirely original that isn’t based on a property or something like that, you have to find the horror that could relate to someone in everyday life,” Freddie says. “I did an animation called Gaze where it’s basically about someone who meets the gaze of someone who’s looking out a window. Then he gets trapped in this alley and it turns out that the person in the window was this weird creature. It’s like that like that everyday horror, if that makes sense. That’s what I try to bring to my own stuff.”

Check out our chat with Freddie below.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tubefilter: I’m familiar with you and familiar with your work and your videos, but pretend somebody’s reading this and they don’t know you. Give me a little bit of background about you, where you’re from, and how you got into art.

Freddie: Art in specific or doing this on YouTube?

Tubefilter: I’d love to hear how you got into art originally and then how you ended up trending toward horror art and YouTube.

Freddie: I started doing art early. It’s something my family have always done, to a degree. My dad was a big painter and that sort of thing. My mom, she was more of a decorate-the-house person, like a fine art person. That’s how I started to get into art. Then obviously, when you’re growing up, you see cartoons on TV or Saturday morning stuff, and that always pushed me in the direction of animation. I think I started using a program that I use–it’s called Animate; it used to be Flash, you’ve probably heard of it already–I started using it when I was really young because a friend in school sold me some copy that he’d burned onto a disk.

Tubefilter: [laughs] Classic.

Freddie: [laughs] Yes. I think he sold it to me, but he got it for free. I think I was 12 or so when I started meddling with animation and art, that sort of thing. I wasn’t amazing at 12. Not saying I’m amazing now, but anyway. Then basically, from that point I studied art and fine art and graphic art up until I went to university, where I took a degree in digital animation. Then after doing that, I did a bunch of random jobs, really. Some were related to art, some weren’t. I worked in a phone shop for a while, just selling phones and stuff. My dad was a gardener and I’d go help him do the garden.

Then, basically, it was during the pandemic where I had a lot of spare time because I couldn’t do anything. I started drawing more for myself again, I guess, instead of just drawing for work and that sort of thing. Then I found this subreddit. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, it’s called r/imsorryjon. It’s a very specific subreddit. It’s quite popular. It’s art that’s all related to Garfield, more or less.

Tubefilter: For stuff like the Garfield creepypasta-esque art, right?

Freddie: Yes.

Tubefilter: Okay. Got you.

Freddie: On the weekends, they do non-Garfield creepy art, but it’s still got to be related to something, some weird property. Could be Teletubbies, there’s this really good article there, just Teletubbies as like these giant eldritch gods basically. I found that subreddit, and I started putting my stuff on there. At first I just did pictures and that sort of stuff. Creepy characters, illustrations. Then I said, “Well, I could try animating these, see what I could do.” I put some on there, and they were quite popular.

Then from there, it was basically I started doing stuff on YouTube. I started more on TikTok. That was when TikTok was just starting. I had a friend and they were like, “I’m addicted to TikTok,” basically. I was like, “It’s a waste of time.” I just threw my stuff on there, and they did quite well. Then people kept taking my animations from TikTok and reuploading them to YouTube. I was like, “I guess I should make my own account.” Then it took off from there.

Tubefilter: Very cool. Where did the name “Broken Finger Paradise” come from?

Freddie: The meaning behind it is basically, it’s meant to be that I draw so much, my fingers break. It’s a weird way of saying an artist’s paradise, or something like that. I wanted it to sound a bit horrory and something distinct. You see it out there and you’ll be like, “That’s weird. What does this guy do?”

Tubefilter: That’s exactly how you caught my attention.

Freddie: I think if I just used my name, I don’t think my name’s particularly exciting.

Tubefilter: You do have a very cool name, I’ve got to say.

Freddie: Thanks. I didn’t come up with it, so…

Tubefilter: [laughs] Yes, kudos to your parents. I would love to know how much time goes into the average video for you, behind the scenes.

Freddie: It depends on the video. A lot of the videos I do basically are a week long. It may seem a bit strange, but to do 30 seconds of my animation, it does usually take me the full week, more or less. Maybe if I have an animation I want to put a bit more time into, I’ve got a few animations that basically, I’m like, “This idea could be a really good animation.” I do sometimes, I’ll take the Monday to work on that, and then the rest of the week, I’ll work on this week’s animation. Then I can just put extra time in, and when I’m going to release that final animation, I’m just going to do the full whole week.

It’s usually the ones, there’s this character I’ve created called Mr. Smiles. He’s my logo. He looks a bit like a yellow emoji smiley-face man. Those are the ones that I really like to put extra time into, just because he’s my character and more personal to me. Obviously, I want to put as much work as I can into every video. But if someone can see that character and be like, “Wow, that’s cool.” I’ve got a few pieces, people sending me fanart and stuff, and it’s really cool to always see someone draw fanart of a character you’ve created.

Tubefilter: Do you have a specific production schedule, like you aim to put out one video per week? How do you work?

Freddie: I do. I aim to do one per week. I try to hit 30 seconds. It used to be I hit 30 seconds because YouTube had certain things in place that there was a reason for it, but that’s gone about out the window a bit with how the Shorts work and that sort of thing. I try to do one a week. Sometimes, if I have an idea, if something particularly trends, then I’m like, “Oh, I’ve got really good idea for that.” All of a sudden, I do sometimes stay up, and I barely sleep some nights, just to get an animation done later in the week.

One of them, recently, they announced some new Pokémon, I can’t remember the name of the Pokémon. It was this pink Pokémon. I really like that design. I think I started working on that animation Thursday, and I was staying up more or less most nights to get it done on Sunday, that’s when I try and get everything out, by Sunday. That’s my launch day for my animations here.

I guess that’s my schedule. It’s not very structured.

Tubefilter: Well, saying that you’re going to get something out every week, every Sunday, is pretty structured to me. You do a lot of original stuff, and then you also do a lot of not twisting, but twisting major characters into surprising horror art. I just watched your Mario and Princess Peach video.

Freddie: This was The Last of Us one.

Tubefilter: Yes. The Last of Us. I was just curious, you seem very into fandom, and I just wanted to talk about your inspiration from fandom, too.

Freddie: You maybe see a bit behind me, I’ve got a bunch of figures and that sort of stuff. Obviously, I like a lot of animation. More recently, I’ve been watching a lot of anime and that sort of thing. There’s this artist I really like, he’s quite well-known now. He doesn’t do anime as much as he does manga. He’s called Junji Ito.

Tubefilter: I love his stuff.

Freddie: I think he’s incredible. An inspiration. But before that, I don’t know, basically, it was just seeing all the things, as I grew up, I was just a big animation and comics fan, I guess as well. I like sci-fi and drama, and I always liked the monsters. I always liked the movie monsters. I was a big Godzilla fan, growing up, as well. I guess there’s a Japanese influence as well. I don’t know why I’ve always had a fascination for monsters, maybe because compared to a good guy, they all have a template for how they look most of the times.

It’s like the standard hero, or maybe, if it’s a man’s, it’s broad shoulders, but a monster can be so imaginative and so unique. I don’t know, if you think of any villain or monster or creature, think of a dragon. There’s been a million ways someone has drawn a dragon, and it’s never boring to see a new interpretation of what a dragon can look like.

I guess that’s what I want to bring to my stuff. I want to draw stuff that people know that in a unique way that stands out. They may not be my characters, but I want to put a stamp on them, that makes them unique. You may have seen Mario, but have you seen a weird Mario? [laughs]

Tubefilter: Believe me, I get it. Weird Mario fan right here. Is this your full-time thing at the moment? Are you focusing on any particular platform?

Freddie: Yes, at the moment. When I started doing it, I was a graphic designer for a company, and more or less because this became bigger and that sort of thing. I put my efforts more into this, and that was winding down as well, because it was more of like a temporary thing. Like I said, I started with TikTok, and that was sort of, I had some popularity  there. I was surprised how popular my stuff was. It wasn’t till I put it on YouTube that I started getting crazy views. It was weird, because at first, I would put stuff on YouTube and it was an afterthought, because the first few animations I was putting on there, they weren’t really getting many views.

Like I said, it was like, “I just want this channel, so people won’t steal my stuff.” Then someone had put one of my videos on YouTube, and it got like a million views or something, and I was like, I wasn’t sure if YouTube was even interested in that short-form animation at that time, because it seems like they were encouraging more longer-form, 10-minute videos and that sort of stuff. It wasn’t like this, this short-form. This was before they started the whole proper Shorts initiative that they’ve got now. Then I put one and suddenly, it was crazy, it just blew up one week, and it got like…I think now it has 70 million views or something, I don’t know.

Then I was like, “Okay, well!” At that point, when it got that many views, a lot of the comments were still like, “Is this yours? Or did you steal this?” At least now it’s got to the point where people don’t think I’ve stolen every animation and put it on YouTube.

Basically, now that YouTube has this Shorts initiative, I can treat it similarly to how I treat TikTok in terms of, I put the animations out at the same time, Sunday. That seems to be the day they perform best from. I tried a few different days, like Friday nights and Saturday, and that sort of thing, but Sunday seems to be the day that people watch, for whatever reason that is.

Sometimes, when I make things, I do feel like, “This may be better on TikTok.” Then some things I’m like, “It may be better on YouTube.” I think YouTube, it doesn’t always have to be a trending topic. It can just sometimes be an interesting topic. It could be like, oh, I’ve got this idea for, I don’t know, something related to Ed, Edd n Eddy or something, and I could put that out. With TikTok, I think if you want to get people to watch your stuff, it more has to move towards a trending thing a lot of the time.

Sometimes there are some evergreen, I think, concepts and ideas that people like, and there is something about like, if you have an interesting enough first initial image that that can suck people in. I try to do that, but yes, I feel like on TikTok, you have to sometimes chase the trends a bit more than you do on YouTube. It seems to be that from what I’ve done, like TikTok is very like, “What’s trending to get the moment? Is it Wednesday from The Addams Family?” Among Us seems to be evergreen for some reason. Everyone seems to love Among Us.

Tubefilter: I just watched a bunch of your Among Us ones. It does feel like one of those games that people don’t really play anymore, but would still watch anything about it. Just preserved forever in internet meme history.

Freddie: Yes, it’s weird, because I have the same thought. I enjoy the Among Us animations I make because they’re very…Some of my animations are more, I would say, illustrative, in terms of, I want this big detailed creature or this specific shot. Like, I want this, I don’t know, reveal where, like my Mario one, where you see Princess Peach infected coming toward you, it’s just actual shock imagery.

My Among Us ones are a little bit more about the animation in terms of, it’s lot of frame-by-frame animation. It’s not the cleanest animation, because when you do frame-by-frame animation, it takes a long while, and I have to do it in a week, so it’s not always the cleanest. I don’t have time to shade every character for that one. It’s more like, they’re just the simple Among Us characters changing and moving. There’s something that it’s like this whole look of animation. Very smooth, sort of the old-school animations you’d see in the past, I guess, where everything was a bit more rubber, cozy, and bouncy, and that sort of stuff. I don’t really know why those aren’t called on particularly, but people still seem to like them, especially on YouTube for whatever reason. I do release one now and again just to see if people are still interested, and they seem to be.

Tubefilter: Yes, clearly they are! And it’s nice to have that evergreen subject you can go back to.

Freddie: I think there’s certain things, like if I’m doing an animation that’s based on a cartoon or something, or even a show or a movie or whatever it may be, trending topics, and it’s like…You don’t know how long it’ll last. It’s like, is it worth me putting the time into making an animation that could be beautiful for a week and then forgotten about? Whereas, there’s some things– Like, I do like a series that’s sort of SpongeBob, and I think SpongeBob is one of those animations where I think generations to come, I can always watch SpongeBob. That’s going to be like a Tom and Jerry or whatever, where people keep watching it generations from now. It’s hard to find the things that you think will be evergreen ideas or evergreen shows. Once you do, it makes it easier to see what made it do well.

It’s hard, because sometimes, there’s also an aspect where if you do an animation of something that’s too popular, you may get drowned out by everyone else. It’s not necessarily this is more YouTube and TikTok and that sort of thing in general where if everyone is doing the same thing, you may not stand up from the crowd. Maybe you get ignored in the ways of 1,000 other videos being put out every day. I don’t know, say when when Squid Game was popular. If you made a Squid Game video, there’s always a chance that because everyone else is making a Squid Game video, it’s like, well, I’ve released one as well, but maybe it’s something else that catches on the algorithm. It can be hard to find these evergreen ideas, I guess.

Tubefilter: I see what you’re saying, yes.

Freddie: I think with my original character, my Mr. Smiles character, what I try and do with him is more…Because obviously, he is my original made-up concept. He’s based around things that are relatable in real life. The latest one I did, it was about chewing gum. Basically, the idea behind this Mr. Smiles is he’s almost like a mascot, like an evil Mickey Mouse, I guess, in a way, for this corporation in this fake world that makes all kinds of products with bubble gum and toys and whatever you can think of. There was one where it was like a drink. Basically, I like to think of things like that. Like a relatable everyday thing like chewing gum. People chewing gum, they don’t forget about it.

You chew 50 pieces of gum, then it’s just something you don’t forget. To take that thing and make that scary in some way, I think that’s one thing I like about Junji Ito’s work. He finds sometimes something very mundane, but makes it scary. That’s something that he inspired me to do as well. He’ll take something like, let’s say, a snail shell, and he’ll just make a whole story about spirals and this horror spirals, that sort of thing, or balloons or whatever.

I think if you’re doing something entirely original that isn’t based on a property or something like that, you have to find the horror that could relate to someone in everyday life. I did an animation called Gaze where it’s basically about someone who meets the gaze of someone who’s looking out a window. Then he gets trapped in this alley and it turns out that the person in the window was this weird creature. It’s like that like that everyday horror, if that makes sense. That’s what I try to bring to my own stuff.

Tubefilter: I’m a huge horror buff and that’s some of the most effective horror out there. Haunting things in daily life. Things that weren’t haunting but now are, thanks to your work. Do you have any plans or goals for the next year or so?

Freddie: Obviously I just want to keep making my Shorts every week, but I would also like to make a slightly longer animation. There’s one I’ve been working on for a while. It’s not going to be 20 minutes, because I don’t have a team or anything. It’s just me on my own at the moment. I’d like to make at least a five-minute animated horror film. More like a short film, I guess. That’s something I’d like to work on for now. I’d like to maybe release a few, because my videos are mostly short-form. Like, a longer-form horror thing. I don’t have too many grand ambitions, but that’s what I’ve been working on one in my spare time. Slowly working on it for a while. Hopefully, that will come out sometime in the next year or so.

Tubefilter: Have you considered getting anybody to help you, or is that something that you’re not interested in?

Freddie: It’s something that I would think about. I don’t know how interested you are in the monetization side of this.

Tubefilter: I’m very interested!

Freddie: Basically, TikTok, unless you’re getting crazy views, like 25 million or whatever a video, you’re not going to make much. Some days I’ve made pennies. It used to be YouTube was a bit better, but they started doing the Shorts fund. They used to have this thing that was like the Shorts creator fund, where every month…I think it wasn’t for everyone, but I don’t know, it was like you had to be accepted into it or there was some rules. There’s always some rules as you go ahead with this stuff. You would get a fixed amount, but you wouldn’t really know what it was because they would just send you an email at the end of the month and say, “You’re getting this amount for this month.” It corresponded, if you had a particularly great month in terms of views, it would be a higher number. It was never like, “This is why you got this,” or any analytics. Now, they’ve changed it where it’s a regular–I can’t remember the word. RPM?

Tubefilter: CPM.

Freddie: Yes, that’s it. [laughs] I think they started doing this new way of doing it. It was early in the year, maybe in March or something like that. Yes, it’s been quite low, compared to a normal YouTube video. I don’t know, it was like a couple of cents per thousand views or something. Despite me getting crazy views, like millions of views–I think it was last month, I think it was like 30 million views or something–it translates to not much. The amount of money I make from YouTube and TikTok is not enough for me to be able to pay another person, really, unfortunately.

Obviously, you don’t know what the future holds, and maybe there is some crazy thing where they tweak it again. It’s early days for this new Shorts funding initiative, so maybe it’ll go up, maybe more advertisers will come on. At the moment, I’m not really doing this, my animations and this kind of thing for the money, because if I was, I wasn’t clear. I think you’d be surprised, I’m sure you’ll talk to many people who probably will say the same thing. I don’t know if you have, but yes, if you’re doing shorts, and if you’re doing TikToks, it’s very hard to get stable income from it.

Even if you’ve had a really good month, it’s still not going to be much compared to either any other job, really. From my point of view, if I didn’t love animating, love drawing, and love doing this sort of thing, it wouldn’t be worth it for the money that I make.

Tubefilter: I feel like there are lots of other people where, if they’re reliant on Shorts funds for the majority of their income, they are in a very similar situation to you.

Freddie: I think I’m lucky, or at least I’ve been lucky that I’ve had relatively consistent views. My animations do seem to hit a good number of people and I’ve built up a fanbase, and I see people comment on my stuff and they carry over and they may be like, “Oh, I also watch you on YouTube” or “I also watch you on TikTok,” and stuff like that. I’m lucky that I have the support that I have, because you’d think getting 30 million views in a month, you could be like, “Oh, well, I’ve done that. This is easy street.” Even at that point, in terms of financial stuff, it’s not really very rewarding, going into finances.

Tubefilter: Is there anything else you would want readers to know about you and your art?

Freddie: I guess I’m just grateful for all the people who watch. I’m still surprised. There’s still a part of me that sees the number on the screen, or the millions of views and all the comments, and it’s like, part of my brain just thinks, this is just the internet, this isn’t real, but there’s millions of people out there who watch my stuff. It’s crazy though. I really do appreciate all the support I’ve got.

Tubefilter: Okay, last question. What what was it like for you to hit a million subscribers?

Freddie: It happened on my birthday, so–

Tubefilter: Seriously? Oh, wow.

Freddie: Yes, that was a weird surprise.

Tubefilter: Hopefully a good surprise!

Tubefilter: Yes, it was something that I never thought would happen. I put my art and some little animations online before that point, but I never really had a big hit, something that loads of people would view. I get nice comments and I was appreciated. If 10 people came and watched or looked at a piece of art I made, I’d say, “Oh, that’s cool.” Then to get a million subscribers and to get videos that have got tens of millions of views, it’s always something that I could never imagine.

If you do something like this, make entertainment or make animation or make art, at the end of the day, it’s a personal thing. You put something of yourself into the art you make, but you always want people to have a look and get that outside validation that what you’re doing can mean something or can entertain someone else in some way, it’s not just something for you. It was just such a big surprise, I guess. It’s still a surprise now. I think I’m at 1.6 now on YouTube or something. I’m surprised that people have kept with me and haven’t stopped watching so far, so just very grateful for that.

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