How’d you like a job that involves running around with your friends and shooting each other with Nerf guns?
Well, that’s a pretty fair description of what Aaron Esser does for a living.
The 23-year-old Sarnia man has is own Nerf-inspired YouTube channel with more than 400,000 subscribers and 81 videos to his credit.
Esser said he’d been shooting videos for years when one day he and a friend added some Nerf guns to the mix.
What was a fun weekend project got noticed online and launched Esser on his dream job.
“I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker,” said Esser who, like many young adults struggled to find the right career choice.
After doing the college thing and still not finding his niche, Esser began to really focus on his YouTube channel in 2014.
The winning formula he came up with combines a growing collection of Nerf guns – 175 at last count – with first person action shooter videos based on the popular video game Call of Duty.
“Nerf guns are just so much more relatable for everyone. Everyone at some point in their life has had a Nerf gun,” said Esser.
He casts his friends as actors and pays them in pizza, and a worldwide YouTube audience has been happily eating it up.
Esser’s most popular video, “Nerf meets Call of Duty: Gun Game,” has been viewed a staggering 29 million times.
“There is a large niche for Nerf-gun videos,” he said.
Esser’s online enterprise has been profitable enough to allow him to quit a job at Starbucks.
He recently collaborated with another YouTube filmmaker from Atlanta on a video, and shot another one at a paintball park in Chicago.
“For my short films, I’m a huge fan of zombie, sci-fi, and superhero films. So I kinda just take my ideas from a whole bunch of those genres and almost try to replicate them by putting my own spin on it,” said Esser, whose job title is Online Content Creator.
As the channel grows daily he’s begun adding ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos to show the unseen side of productions and how he makes props.
“I love watching movies and I love playing video games,” he said.
“So the fact that I can combine all of those together to make my living is just the coolest thing ever.”