Montclair Film Festival’s Documentary Centerpiece: Presenting Princess Shaw

Montclair Film Festival’s Documentary Centerpiece: Presenting Princess Shaw

Sunday, 08 May 2016

Written By: Melissa Donofrio

Presenting Princess Shaw documents the story of Samantha Montgomery and her rise to YouTube fame as Princess Shaw. Princess Shaw writes and sings her own songs on her channel while giving her subscribers a glimpse into her life. She blogs about the highs and lows of her life, which lead to her discovery by Israeli composer, musician, and video artist named Kutiman. I was given the opportunity to meet Princess Shaw and witnessed her authentic self.

A few minutes before the film’s premiere, I was escorted to the green room of the Wellmont Theater. This was my first time at the Wellmont, so I was intrigued about the theater. I unfortunately learned the hard way that the Wellmont’s green room can only be accessed from the outside. After walking in the cold, rainy weather, the trip was worth it after meeting Princess Shaw.

When we entered the green room, I was the first reporter to interview her. I immediately noticed that the refreshments provided to Princess Shaw weren’t extravagant, so I had an idea of who she was based on the food selection. As I was introduced to her, she stood up, gave me a hug and said, “nice to meet you Darling Honey Sugar”. I was taken back for a moment because I was not expecting such a warm and friendly greeting. She was happy to answer my questions and provided great advice to those who want to become YouTube stars. Shaw said she was happy, blessed and calm about being a first time artist at the festival. When I asked her about the most difficult part about filming, her response was, “feeling exposed, feeling naked and being followed around by a camera”. Which isn’t the response you would normally expect from a YouTuber. Her favorite moment of filming was, “performing Stay Here in Israel since it’s a more upbeat song”. My final question to Shaw was, “What advice do you have for those who want to make a name for themselves on YouTube. She replied, ” Just record and hit publish. Don’t be afraid to do something. You never know what could happen”. I thanked her again for speaking with me, and she gave me another hug. I was the first member of the press to take a picture with her.

The film documents Shaw’s journey from being an average YouTuber, to a YouTube sensation. Of course, the journey would not be complete without viewing the high and low points of her journey. Kutiman, the YouTube video artist responsible for starting Princess Shaw’s career, takes various videos from other users on YouTube to create a single mash- up video. We see Kutiman creating this video for her song, “Give it Up”, while Shaw travels to Atlanta, Georgia to visit the music scene there. We see Princess Shaw sitting on a park bench, when she receives a notification about the video Kutiman created. She travels to Israel to meet Kutiman and performs in Tel Aviv. This film was by far one of the best films that I saw at the festival.

Once the screening was over, Princess Shaw was introduced to the audience where she began to sing, “Give it Up”. She then sang another original song, “Stay Here”. You could feel the energy in the crowd as everyone clapped along and sang with her. Afterwards, a brief Q&A was held where we learned more Princess Shaw and her film. Great questions were asked, but there was one in particular that stood out to me, “How did you become involved with this project”. Now you may be saying to yourself, how does that stand out, but the answer she gave was completely unexpected. She became involved with the project when she received a Facebook message asking if she would participate in a documentary about YouTubers. She thought it was a “bogus” message, but agreed to be involved. She had no idea she was the main subject of the film, until she arrived in Israel and saw her face on a poster advertising the film. When asked what her future plans were, she revealed that she is recording an album with Kutiman. She gave us a preview of her song, “Putting on my Make-up” that will be included on the album. Presenting Princess Shaw definitely lived up to its name.