Behind Patrick “thepaperpat” Smith’s Healthful Movies
In the event you’ve spent any time in any respect on Japan TikTok, you are sure to have come throughout the paperpat. Via quick skits and anecdotes, Patrick Smith affords perception into his life as an English instructor in Japan. His movies are the proper mix of humorous, insightful and human, which is how most of them have gone viral past TikTok and onto different platforms comparable to Instagram and Twitter. Lately, his 15-to-45-second movies are microdoses of wholesomeness for his 1.9 million followers to take pleasure in.
Smith, or ‘Mr. Patrick’ as he is identified to his college students, wasn’t at all times doing skits or ‘story time’ movies, as they name it. The truth is, he would not actually have a TikTok account had it not been instructed to him by a good friend again in October 2019.
Debuting on TikTok
“That good friend informed me about ‘dance tok’ and instructed that I ought to make an account to submit movies of me attempting some dance tendencies which can be standard on the app. I like dancing and I usually make easy dances for my college students at college so I assumed I’d strive it, however I did not see a lot success from my uploads,” says Smith.
Nonetheless, via utilizing TikTok, he was uncovered to other forms of content material on his ‘FYP’ (‘For You Web page’ that reveals movies to the person based mostly on their preferences) and this was how he got here throughout vlogs and skit-based movies. He was drawn to the creativity concerned in making movies because it required enhancing, post-recording audio for voiceovers and different filters and options that the app provided.
“I began utilizing my cellphone to go round Japan to movie footage which I’d then add my layer of narration about what it was I used to be exhibiting,” he says. “My first ‘viral’ video was really one in every of me introducing a public bathtub in Japan and its amenities. It was only a video to point out what issues are like right here, however for a lot of of my American viewers, it blew their thoughts.”
The timing of the pandemic actually factored into the success of his platform. April 2020, noticed Smith beginning a brand new job which took him from Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture to a faculty in Tokyo. The uncertainty of the scenario and the transfer to educating on-line gave him extra time to make movies. TikTok customers world wide who have been additionally at residence have been consuming content material extra regularly. The variety of his followers skyrocketed.
“TikTok is exclusive on account of its virality and its algorithm. Previous to TikTok, having your content material attain such essential mass was one thing that you simply’d assume would not occur to you. However on TikTok, it could possibly actually occur to anybody,” he says.
A typical thepaperpat TikTok takes about 30 to 45 minutes to supply. It normally begins with an idea or an concept that Smith mulls over all through the day. Enhancing is not at all times carried out in a single go. He generally comes again to it after letting it sit for some time. The final half is recording the audio to provide his ‘college students’ a voice and including captions to make the video accessible.
The most well-liked of Smith’s movies are parody skits from the varsity the place he pokes enjoyable at a few of his college students’ reactions. Half of the humor lies within the scenario, the opposite is how he manages to painting each single position. Nonetheless, as with most issues on the web, not everyone seems to be complimentary.
“Some folks go away impolite feedback, attacking the conduct of my college students and calling Japanese folks racist,” Smith reveals. “It is disappointing to see this as a result of my one video or my one expertise does not signify Japanese folks as a complete. And other people overlook that these college students are 5 years outdated. How are you going to name a toddler racist?”
Being Black in Japan
Smith sees the opposite facet to his movies as additionally having an academic and informative lens, “I hope to point out folks the fact of being Black in Japan. I’ve a variety of teenage Black Individuals who contact me as a result of they’re very involved in coming right here. Which is nice, however I additionally need them to know what to anticipate,” he says.
To Smith, dwelling in Japan remains to be a lot safer than his residence nation, america. He believes the probability of being a sufferer of violence right here is way decrease. What different Black folks coming to Japan would possibly expertise as a substitute is curiosity and questions on their look which could not be the norm within the nation they’re from.
“Be ready to be stared at loads, particularly when going to locations like an onsen,” he says. “And generally it may be arduous to make pals with Japanese. But when you’ll be able to come to Japan, it’s best to nonetheless embrace this chance and there’s a probability you can make long-lasting relationships right here.”
As standard as Smith is, he simply actually cares for his college students and loves being a instructor. He plans to maintain working in training whereas persevering with to make movies and content material on the facet. Earlier this yr, he spoke on the TEDxWasedaU convention on the subject of connections.
Comply with thepaperpat on TikTok and Instagram.
Images by Lisa Knight