You’d think that with my subjects so far (vomiting, concussing myself, being bitten by a dog), all of these ‘Life Stories’ posts are going to be unpleasant experiences. I’m not saying that most of them won’t be, but occasionally, just occasionally, there’ll be some good ones too.
This is one of those, and a fairly recent one too.
The year was 2013…
Heady days for our little nation. With an election on the horizon we were all hopeful for the future, but instead we woke up with Tony Abbott in charge and Clive Palmer a federal member. We didn’t even bother going to the doctor, we knew we’d given ourselves something horrible.
But this took place before all that.
During the campaign I was working for a group called ‘NewsLab’ – a bunch of aspiring writers, comedians and creatives who were developing content with the hope that it’d all result in a TV show. The election campaign was a productive time – we’d been generating great content but nothing had really exploded.
It was a clip made by Jim Minns, of Tony Abbott singing (or rather ‘umm’ing) to ‘Blue Danube’ that piqued my interest. The guy says ‘ummm’ and ‘ahhh’ a lot when he’s not reading from a script, and I mean A LOT.
But who the hell had the patience to go through multiple speeches, cut out each one individually and then put it over a semi-complicated melody?
My first attempt was a melody that was conveniently already stuck in my head at the time – Van McCoy’s ‘The Hustle’.
Looking back on it now, it could have been tighter (although that third repetition is almost perfect), but the idea made people laugh and it wasn’t being done elsewhere – so after this very small (current count: 3. 264) success it was on to bigger and better things.
It took a little while, but Tony’s speeches gave us more gold and it was time to harvest a new crop of ‘umm’s. All I needed now was the song, and this took a while.
I guessed that part of the limited appeal with the first one was the song itself. Kids aren’t really in to what was the best generation of music ever, so I had to update my tastes.
Where else can you go with that but Skrillex?
I made the video, and it took AGES.
We posted it on YouTube, and our Facebook page. It was received mildly. Then someone informed us that the video had been linked to on Reddit – great news.
By the end of that first night the video had about 8,000 views. Nice.
Waking up in the morning and realising that the counter had been catching up all night to bring the views to 35,000 was a fantastic feeling. I would have been happy with that, but it got better. By the end of night 2 the count was up to 90,000. Phenomenal.
The next day I was browsing the news, and I found multiple links and entire articles dedicated to this little 30-second video I had made. Then, to top it off, I’m watching SANDRA FUCKING SULLY delivering a piece on the ‘online’ aspects of the federal campaign and BOOM! IT’S ON NATIONAL TV!
The view count was over 120,000 and still going. I thought it would stop anytime soon but it still went on and on. When the views finally stopped going bananas after those first 6 days the view count was at 225,000 – but it IS still going. As of today the view count is 243,436.
Compared to the likes of Gangnam Style this is nothing, and I know it – but if you’re looking at this post and wondering why I’m not-so-humble-bragging about a video I made, SHOW ME YOUR FUCKING VIDEO WITH 240,000 VIEWS THEN!
Sorry, got a bit defensive there.
I had one more go at it with Jason Derulo’s ‘Talk Dirty To Me’, which failed comparatively (6,615 views), but perhaps there was a bit too much saturation going on in the attempt to find another success before the election. I still thought it turned out well.
The third video, and every other video we made, showed me one thing – that I HAVE NO IDEA what will make a video go viral on YouTube. It’s not about where you post it, how long it is or how good it is – it’s almost impossible to determine, but to know I’ve hit the spot once is a little accomplishment that brings me joy.
It was an at times painstaking task, going through those speeches, the audio waveforms, matching it all up, the videos, making sure it matched rhythmically, it was arduous, but it was rewarding. Bear in mind that I had to edit all three of them on an 11-inch monitor.
We never got the TV show, but if creative life has taught me anything it’s that opportunity knocks when you’re not even expecting houseguests. We love what we do, making things, and if we’re lucky enough to see one of those things take off it doesn’t encourage complacency but drives us to do more.
Did the video bring me fame and fortune? No. Did anyone even know I was the person who made it? No – but I think that was a good thing. To be able to make something creative, completely anonymously, and watch it spread throughout the community and entertain so many people was great.
Will I have that moment again? Who knows? I should probably re-activate my Adobe account if I want to find out…