Imagine your entire life being recorded and beautifully edited into a movie every single day. Now imagine sharing those videos with the world for anyone to follow along. Welcome to the life of Peter and Sarah Brookhart, who followed their dreams and have filmed every minute along the way.
When did you both discover your love for Disney?
Sarah grew up watching Disney movies nonstop. When she was a baby her older sister watched Cinderella on repeat, so she was basically brainwashed from the time she was born. It’s always been a part of her identity.
Peter was a typical nineties kid, whose love for Disney started with the release of The Lion King.
When were your first trips to the parks?
Sarah’s first trip was in summer of 1998 at age 6.
Peter’s first trip was August of 2011, before our Disney College Program, at age 19.
Tell us about your backgrounds and what led you to start vlogging?
Peter is a data analyst, and self-proclaimed tech geek. He is always reading articles and doing research on new computer and camera technology. He is the brains of the operation!
Sarah is a graphic designer, but a large portion of her college portfolio involved video work. She manages all things creative. She has an extensive organizational system for our family photos and in 2012 she started taking short video clips while on vacation. During a quick trip for the last twenty four hour day at Magic Kingdom in 2015, she took enough footage to edit into a short film. That became our first YouTube video on our previous YouTube channel.
That channel, The Fab 5207, started as a collaborative effort with our Disney College Program roommates. It was a way to stay in touch with one another and manifest our love for Disney. The name is a play on the Disney fab five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto) and the apartment number that brought us together: 5207. Over time, we became the main contributors of the channel. When we decided to move to Orlando, we wanted a channel all our own to document our new adventure! Thus, the Brookhart Project was born!
Who did you look up too or were inspired by in the community when starting out?
The Ballinger Family and Colleen Ballinger were the first YouTube channels we daily watched. Their ability to turn YouTube into a career, but also as a means to document (basically) glorified home videos was so appealing to us. See Ya Reel Soon, Ears2You, and Disney at Heart were the first Disney vacation vlog channels that we watched and made us think, “Hey! We can do that.” It’s the Bugg’s Life, who are now our dear friends, showcased their move to Orlando and allowed us to vision ourselves doing the same. Both Casey Nesitat and the Tim Tracker’s daily productions inspired us to look for the magic in everyday life.
How has the overall style of the vlogs evolved since starting out?
Growing confident while filming has had the biggest impact on our style. Because we daily vlog, our ability to plan out shots and b-roll has become second nature. We know exactly how much we need to film to produce a 10-15 vlog everyday, so our footage is more casual and less programmed. Producing a video everyday also forces us to get creative! We are always trying out new transitions, lighting, compositions, etc. to keep things interesting.
Also! Sarah, our editor, has learned to keep things simple. You should’ve seen the intensive thumbnails she used to produce for the Fab 5207! Now she just uses screencaps and brief text from the vlog. She takes far less time editing vlogs because we film intentionally.
How did you get attention, gain traction and grow your following?
We gained traction organically on YouTube from three types of videos: Our vacation vlogs, Dom’s (a member of the Fab 5207) top five videos, and our videos discussing the Disney Vacation Club. Our audience from the Fab 5207 became the foundation of our Brookhart Project viewers. The Brookhart Project’s “wow factor” is that we moved to Orlando and go to Walt Disney World everyday, and also that we produce daily content. Often we are told by our viewers that they found our channel by searching, “Moving to Disney World.” Other than that, being active on Instagram shares our story and brings people to our channel.
What’s been the biggest risk you‘ve both taken with The Brookhart Project?
Moving across the country and all that comes with it!
What is the biggest challenge and most rewarding parts of running a daily vlog?
The vlog has a daily deadline. Sarah works at home as a freelance graphic designer, however; the vlog takes priority over her work and our at home leisure. We produce and edit our content everyday, so we give up sleeping in and binging Netflix to make sure the video goes up. This challenge is also our biggest reward! It’s so fulfilling to have a manifestation of our everyday in video form. We are able to look back on every single day since moving to Florida and we’ve captured some incredible moments.
It’s not only incredible how you two film, edit and put out a vlog everyday, but you share what seems like a great deal of your personal lives. How do you decide how much to share in the final cut versus what is too personal?
Thank you! We ask ourselves, “Does this have potential to help someone else?” If someone else can learn from our experiences, we include it. But we always present said information in a tasteful, modest manner. We even will leave more personal details for the end of the video. Our logic is if a viewer sticks around the entire video, they’re invested in us and not just our goofy antics. We are very honest with one another about our comfort showing various moments and topics, so we always talk through what we will include prior to filming. If we feel driven to share more information not suited for the vlog, we know those who care will take the time to read additional details in a blog post. We also cut details that may hinder our safety or security.
As great as they are today, looking back on your catalog of videos will be absolutely priceless later in life to see everything documented. What is the most memorable moment you’ve captured on film so far?
Our niece, Violet’s, birth vlog. We did minimal vlogging, but the footage we captured alongside the music is so emotional to watch. We were so honored to be there.
Switching rolls a little bit, when did you launch your shop? Anything help you take the leap?
We launched our shop and website on March 31, 2018. We wanted to connect better with our audience by creating a central hub where all things Brookhart Project could live — our story, Sarah’s design portfolio for prospective clients, a link to our Facebook discussion group, etc., which turned into our website. The shop followed suit. Our “It’s good to be home!” sign off was something our audience would regularly repeat and mention they’d wear on a shirt, so that design was the start of our new merchandise line! Also, we previously ran a magic inspired button subscription service called the Plane Crazy Button Club, so we already had an understanding of ecommerce software and running a personal business. You can still find our buttons and stickers from previous subscription boxes for sale on the site. That foundation of knowledge and experience made it more comfortable to launch.
What is your favorite part of running a brand thats entirely yours?
The people we have met along the way. We have viewers that have turned into family and that’s so special to us. The community we engage with daily is incredible!
Second. Being able to create anything we want and launching it completely on our own terms and timeline. We can get an idea and the product be in our shop that same day. Or! We can spend months developing something. It’s all up to us.
Where do you get your inspiration for new designs?
Our designs are totally inspired by our audience engagement. Often we will get comments like, “You should put that on a shirt!” Our viewers have the best eye for the quirks that make us unique. We prefer our designs to embody us and our goofy personalities, with just a subtle hint of Disney. It’s simply merchandise for our channel!
What third party programs, services or products could your brand and vlog not run without?
We have to mention those who invest time so much of their time to watch our videos first. It is still surreal that so many people care so much about us. Adobe Creative Suite, iMovie, our camera and mini tripod duo, cell phones, social media, and shopify.com are simply the gears that keep us moving! The blessing of Sarah working from home makes it all possible.
What do you want people to think of when they think of The Brookhart Project?
We hope that others see us as genuine, optimistic doers! Our mission is to show our audience that everyday is worth remembering. We hope that when they watch our channel they’re inspired to not just live for the weekend. The ultimate goal is that people hear about our journey and decide to take action towards their “move to Walt Disney World” moment.
What’s next for both the two of you, as well as The Brookhart Project?
Our first priority is starting our family and we will continue to share our infertility story with our viewers. We know our channel will change when we add children into the mix, but we want everyone to know that we will continue to post daily vlogs when it happens. Our message and mission at its core will remain the same.
Second. Changing our equipment! We are saving up to buy a new camera. Our goal is to enhance our artistic edge and editing (color mapping, slow motion, etc.) by the end of the year! Again, the vlogging will stay the same, but the in between footage will be more refined.
Third. Peter will take part in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Dopey Challenge! He is training now and is a part of a team raising money for the American Cancer Society.
Favorite Walt quote?
“Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
What do you think Walt would think of the parks today?
Walt loved progress. We are certain he’d be very proud of the shape they’ve taken.
Mickey Bar or Mickey Pretzel?
Dole Whip or Citrus Swirl?
Favorite Disney restaurant?
Earl of Sandwich
Favorite park and attraction?
Sarah: Magic Kingdom & Splash Mountain
Peter: EPCOT & Space Mountain
Best parks tip?
There is so much to do, that it is impossible to get it all done in one trip. Focus on a handful of priorities to accomplish, and let the magic fall into place around you. You don’t want to skip a random performance of the JAMMitors you come upon just because you have to hit every attraction in Future World before heading into World Showcase. Take time to appreciate your vacation, otherwise it’ll go so fast it’ll be over before it even started.
Favorite holiday in the parks?
We are big Christmas people, so it’s really tough to answer this question with Halloween. It’s everything about this time of year that we love. The humidity breaks. The Food and Wine Festival starts. Magic Kingdom transforms so beautifully into autumn. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is the most unique and energetic event Walt Disney World has, in our opinion. Boo to You parade is our absolute favorite and the Sanderson Sisters stage show is top notch. Even the resorts have their own fall traditions! Christmas is magical, but Halloween is the most fun!
All time favorite fireworks show?
Most magical experience you’ve had on property?
A new experience this week just took over this top spot! We were riding Dumbo the Flying Elephant during the fireworks and because there was no wait time they just let us ride it over and over again. We ended up riding it four times and we finished as the finale of Happily Ever After was happening.
Who do you want to see interviewed next?
We would love to see Joe and Ashley of See Ya Reel Soon interviewed. They’re the OG Disney vloggers and we’ve learned so much from their channel. We are inspired from their journey as individuals, as a couple and as parents and would love to learn more about them.