Khormologia: How Skander Boudawara’s love of science led to an online show series watched by hundreds of thousands of Tunisians.
Full Interview (Dec. 19, 2020)
► Who is Khormologia?
A: My name is Skander BOUDAWARA born in Sfax but have lived in Tunis downtown. I’m working as a quality engineer in aeronautics in France and as a content creator for the pop-science YouTube channel Khormologia.
Since I’m an engineer, I pursued the classical educational road from preparatory school at IPEIT to a double diploma in mechanics at the national engineer school of Tunis (ENIT) and Grenoble Institute of Technology (INP-G). During my student life, I was enrolled in several clubs and organizations that helped me improve my knowledge and soft skills, and let’s say this had a significant impact on what I am doing today.
► What made you start this science-led initiative?
A: It all started at the end of my internship with Airbus and after releasing a new movie named “The Martian” with Matt DAMON. I was sitting with my colleague discussing whether this movie respected the scientific boundaries or not. My brain was ticking; why not starting a YouTube channel explaining scientific facts through sci-fi movies?
I was fond of science, content creation, and sci-fi movies. So I didn’t hesitate any second to start this project.
At first, my first video, “Black Hole – Interstellar,” was intended to be shared with my friends and nothing more, but the same night the video got trending and hit 10.000 views!
► Was there a big break or a key moment along the way?
A: I had several key moments during my growth on YouTube. The first one being my first collaboration ever with Beki, and still, it’s my most viewed video on the channel and the second one is my first Taboo video ever.
The first key moment was the first time I meet Tunisian content creators because, let’s say, at that time, I was an outsider.
The second one, Taboo topics, are tough to deal with and represent a huge responsibility. But fortunately, till now, the feedbacks are positive and encouraging.
► Do you come up with the ideas yourself for the videos?
A: For now, I am working all alone; I do not have a team. I film, script, and edit my video. There is no team or whatsoever. So yes, I come up with the ideas by myself.
Thus, now I find it quite tricky because of all social media algorithms. And second, I take some time to verify my script with professional and Ph.D. students.
► Did it work? Or do you feel it is working?
A: It depends on my viewing angle.
For me, I feel it’s working for my country. I mean, let’s be honest, scientific content in Tunisia is challenging, and no one believed that It could hit these numbers since we have this stereotype “Science is boring.”
But If I’m looking at my channel from an international perspective, I still have a long road ahead.
► When you put together an episode, do you think of the story visually or in terms of words?
A: Maybe this will look weird, but I always dream about my script at night and write it down in the morning. I mean, the process of joining all the pieces and ideas in my mind is made while I’m sleeping.
Concerning the scripting, I don’t use storyboards since I don’t use many different plans. But I write down everything I will say, even the jokes! Now, I’m using Teleprompter, and it’s making my life relatively easy.
► Do you work alone? Are they any behind the scene people?
A: As I said, I do not have a team and what’s funny is people are trying to compare me with people having not only the budget but a whole production and writer team! Honestly? It is a tremendous honor and sometimes nourishes my ego.
In the future, I’m planning to delegate some tasks as maintaining my social media platforms and e-mailing. But, for now, I work alone.
I also want to thank every person who volunteered to double-check my script to avoid any misconception on my channel.
► Do you foresee yourself going more toward science outreach or more toward being a personality in the public eye?
A: It’s a tricky question. YouTube (and other social media platforms) are pushing us to create content about the personality, not content about “Content”. And all the “successful” channels are being about “People,” not “Topics.”
For me, I don’t feel like I’m a role model that people should follow. That’s why I’m avoiding such a strategy, but who knows? Maybe I will cross the line.
► Is there a downside to this job?
A: Before being negative, I want to say my YouTube experience is fantastic with all the downsides. I met many incredible people. It allowed me to share my passion with many people and has taught me several things in terms of management and personal development.
I’m against that boring life of having one job and paid once a month. YouTube is, for me, a practical challenge for my personality.
The negative downsides are exposing your personal life, dealing with hate comments, and sometimes death threats. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by a lovely family and friends that helped me during these challenging times, and it strengthen my personality as we say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
► Final words
Thank you for having me today. It is an honor. I want to spread a massive message of love for everyone supporting the Khormologia project, and let’s hope for the best, “The show must go on.”
This interview was slightly edited for length and clarity.
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