What do you get when you combine a career in filmmaking with a passion for gaming? For Viva La Dirt League, the answer is a thriving YouTube channel with more than six million subscribers. Viva La Dirt League celebrates the joy and the absurdity of gaming with high-production value comedy skits that audiences can’t get enough of. We had a chance to sit down with Adam King, cofounder of Viva La Dirt League, to learn more about the channel’s success, the typical production process and what Viva La Dirt League has planned for the future.

Viva La Dirt League
Subscribers: 6.25M
Uploads: 1,874
Video views: 3,374,044,125
Content type: Games

User created: Aug 21st, 2011

Finding inspiration

As gamers themselves, Adam and Dirt League cofounders Rowan Bettjeman and Alan Morrison tap into the gaming culture and community to create skits that really resonate with viewers.

Adam gives an example: “One of the very first videos we did was about eating and how to heal with food in video games. And, you know, the idea that if you’ve just been hit with a million arrows or a fireball and you eat, that heals you — questioning that logic.”

All three cofounders were working in the film industry in New Zealand before taking Viva La Dirt League full-time. “We’re all filmmakers by trade,” Adam explains, “and we’re all just passionate gamers … We realized we should put filmmaking and gaming together.”

Adam says that, in the early days, Viva La Dirt League was just a fun side project. “There was obviously the idea that we wanted to get them seen and wanted to grow the channel, but it was most certainly just for our own enjoyment … It was just kind of that combination of filmmaking and video games that we thought that we could bring to YouTube.”

Scaling production

While Viva La Dirt League began as a side project for the three friends, the scale of production has increased drastically over the years. Today, Viva La Dirt League functions much like any other production studio with anywhere between 20 and 70 people on-site on any given day.

Even with so many teammates, the three founding members have retained top-level creative control. Adam, for instance, often takes the lead as director. That explains why he doesn’t appear onscreen as often as other cast members. “I love being in front of the camera,” Adam clarifies, “It’s just difficult being in front of the camera and directing at the same time.”

To accommodate these larger-scale productions, the Dirt League team has developed an efficient production cycle. “We could do a simple skit, like, in a day, literally from idea to online if we wanted,” Adam says. And that’s exactly what they used to do: “We used to literally just go whenever we could or wanted or needed to. That was back when we had day jobs as well.”

As the channel grew, however, the production process evolved: “The way that we work these days is we shoot a lot of our skits in big filming blocks.” Adam explains that the team spends a couple of months writing. Then, during a typical filming block, the team will schedule nine days of filming across three weeks. In general, the team can produce around 36 skits during that time.

“We do four blocks a year and just kind of cycle through those,” Adam says, “so generally, it does take about three to four months to go from idea to screen. But that’s purely just by the way that we work these days.”

From idea to screen

Image courtesy: Blackmagic Design

The Viva La Dirt League team gets ideas from a range of sources, but most often, they arise while Adam and the team are hanging out and playing games together. ”A lot of ideas literally just come from either playing a video game and going, ‘My God, what the hell is that thing that just happened in the video game?’” Adam tells us. “Or, if it’s less about the video game and more about the community or people or some social situation, [ideas] often come from when we’re hanging out, having a chinwag and something funny will happen in conversation.”


Whenever a new idea pops up, the team writes it down to develop later. “We’ve just got screens and screens of ideas in Google documents,” Adam reveals. “Then, when we get together in a room to kind of go over ideas and flesh them out, we talk around those ideas and try and see how we could actually turn an idea … into a skit.” The next step is to actually write the script based on this collaborative brainstorming process. For this, Viva La Dirt League writers work individually. After that, it’s time to choose which scripts to produce in the next filming block.

“That’s a bit of a back and forth between us and our production team,” Adam says. The goal is to curate a group of scripts that will be easy to produce together during the next filming block. “We often have more scripts in the backlog than we need to film in the next block,” Adam admits.


Image courtesy: Blackmagic Design

Once the production schedule is set, it’s time to start filming. Adam says the production environment is similar to what you would expect from any other film set. “Most of the time, we are … anywhere between 20 and 30 people,” Adam says. “Some days get into like a proper bloody production — like 50 to 70 or more.” To make the most of their production days, the team aims to film four skits on each day, coordinating so they all take place in the same location.

During production, the team also creates other essential assets, like the thumbnail image. “We’re really crafting what that thumbnail is going to be with the skit fresh in our minds,” Adam says. It also helps that cast members are still in costume.


With dozens of new skits in the can, the team gets back to work writing the next round of scripts while the post-production team edits. “For quite a while, we’ve had a full editing team. We actually have a team of four people now that edit for us and they’re amazing editors,” Adam tells us, adding, “The first version that we see is often a very polished cut.”


The last step is getting the sketch posted online. “For us, we put a lot of effort into our thumbnails,” Adam says, “It is often said, jokingly at the very least, that the thumbnails are often more important than the video because that is what people click on to watch your video.” That’s part of why Viva La Dirt League employs a graphics team, as well.

“We will do a good two or three rounds of a thumbnail,” Adam tells us, “and then, obviously, that is combined with what the text is on the thumbnail … and then what the YouTube title is. And a lot of effort goes in to make sure those three things — the thumbnail, the thumbnail title and the YouTube title — are as clickable as possible.” For Viva La Dirt League, that means choosing the most emotive and evocative words possible.

Along with thumbnails, Viva La Dirt League leverages another important marketing tool to extend their reach: short-from video. “It’s a fantastic way to bring people into the channel and then that gets them watching the longer videos,” Adam observes. Dirt League posts short-form videos all over the web, from YouTube Shorts to Instagram Reels to TikTok.


Right now, Viva La Dirt League relies on a collection of revenue streams, including creator staples like Google AdSense, Facebook monetization, brand sponsorships and Patreon. While AdSense has served as a reliable income stream over the years, Adam says Dirt League is even more indebted to their Patreon patrons.

“Our Patreon is so important to us,” Adam says. “That is far more predictable even than YouTube, for example. And we not only love our patrons who are willing to donate to us every month to make content, but we give that back to them … We put a lot of effort into our Patreon and we put a lot of behind-the-scenes on there, a lot of bloopers on there.” Patrons even have access to unreleased videos and private updates, among lots of other perks.

How to hire help

Viva La Dirt League didn’t get to where they are now without help. It’s no surprise that Adam had some sage advice for building a solid team.

First, Adam emphasizes the importance of good communication. “We value communication over almost anything else,” he reveals, “I would rather have an employee who’s 100% at communication and 80% at the quality of the job … Having that team communicate efficiently and effectively is so important to getting your creative vision across.”

After good communication skills, Adam looks for employees he and the rest of the team can get along with. “If you’re making content online, it’s still got to be fun,” he reminds us. “So, you want to be working with people who are creative as well, who are enjoyable to work with, who want to be creating as well, as opposed to people who just want the job.” Reflecting a bit, Adam sees these qualities shine through in the current Viva La Dirt League cast and crew: “We have pulled together an amazing team — people who are super passionate about making the viral videos, who love being here, who are fun, who are creative and are very good at communication as well.”

The key to staying motivated

Image courtesy: Blackmagic Design

While Viva La Dirt League has enjoyed consistent growth over the years, the team has also faced their share of challenges. “Going from being a small YouTube channel where you’re just making content yourself and putting it out into the world to being a production company, putting content out into the world — that is a hard shift,” Adam tells us. “It’s been a challenge … We’ve had trip-ups along the way, but it’s been an exciting, exciting growth, for sure.”

To stay motivated, Adam and the rest of the Dirt League team rely on their continued passion for filmmaking, video games and sharing content with the world. Indeed, Adam had this advice for aspiring creators: “Don’t play Fortnite on Twitch because everyone’s playing Fortnite on Twitch. That’s not the recipe to fame. The recipe for fame is doing something that creatively fulfills you. And if it’s creatively fulfilling you, then that’ll be seen in the final product and it’ll be a good product.”

Viva La Dirt League

“There’s so many things on the boil,” Adam reveals when asked what’s next for Viva La Dirt League. “We’re doing a small little video game. We’re doing comics and books. There’s a couple of longer-form things in the works. People have been hankering for us to do a feature film for a long time — there are a few of those in the early days, as well.”

At the top of the list, however, is a brand new Viva La Dirt League website. “It’s really about owning our own destiny,” Adam explains. “Having YouTube, Facebook, Patreon, Discord and everything — that’s someone else’s company. It’s a tech bro in San Francisco who could, on a whim, absolutely change our destiny … we just want to be the masters of our own destiny.”

And with that, there’s only one thing left to say: Viva La Dirt League.