These days we are all craving the fifteen minutes of fame Andy Warhol promised us back in the Sixties. At least he promised our parents that but now we want it. Reality Shows certainly help to fulfill this promise but it is the Internet that really holds the greatest possibility that everyday slobs like us can achieve our dreams of glory. A simple home video shot on equipment no more expensive than a cell phone can now be seen by millions of people worldwide. Our clips can even make it onto network television on shows like Tosh.0 or even used as TV commercials. Although it is ridiculously simple to produce a potential viral video there are some basic dos and don’ts. First the don’ts;
- Don’t use alcohol. Although alcohol seems to be involved in a lot of the crazy stunt videos seen on YouTube and using it as a lube almost always results in hilarious antics from your crazy friends, it also introduces a wild card element into what should be a somewhat controlled situation. Out of control may be what you’re hoping for but for your subject, not for your equipment. Unleashing the God of Mayhem may result in the funniest clip ever when your friend, drunk on both booze and the spotlight of the camera, does things no sober person would ever do, but if he turns on you and your expensive camera gear, you’re in big trouble.
- Don’t use drugs. This is actually for the opposite reason than not using alcohol as having your subject nodding off may open up opportunity for funny pranks on him but any hilarious things he may say while under the influence may be unintelligible and his lethargic demeanor just doesn’t generate the kind of comedic energy to make for a really great viral video. There is also the danger with combustibles that the camera crew can suffer a contact high and blow the entire shooting schedule and budget on pizza rolls.
- Don’t involve children. Although kids in videos can be adorable and make for very popular clips, it is a fine line between adorable and exploitive and abusive.
- Don’t shoot clips that will embarrass your mother. Showing the world your mother tripping down stairs and revealing her lack of underwear my seem like the funniest thing you’ve ever seen, when you’re fourteen. You will grow to regret this and the kind of fame you will receive for both yourself and your family will not be the kind you so crave. Besides, your father is always fair game.
The things you should do to create a guaranteed million viewed viral video are;
- Promise sex. Don’t actually show anything that will guarantee your clip will never be shown on America’s Funniest Viral Video Show but make the viewer think the clip is building to something sexy enough to keep them viewing to the ultimately disappointing end. The huge let down can be hilarious in itself and once your clip has been seen it has achieved its goal. If done right it may even be passed on as a cruel joke to other perverts as misery loves company and no one likes to think they were the only one fooled.
- Use some imagination. Take a mundane, everyday occurrence that may seem appropriate to have videotaped and imagine the most amazing, unexpected freak ending you can. The setup needs to be something that looks natural, not staged, such as a birthday party, then spring the big surprise. With video effects, costumes and some simple in-camera tricks, any number of improbable scenarios can be acted out to look completely natural and spontaneous. Otherwise you just have to film everything, all the time and pray that lightening strikes. Good luck with that.
- Film cats. Cat lovers are fanatics. There is a parasite that cats carry that gets spread in their stool. If a mouse comes into contact with it and becomes infected the parasite affects the mouse in a very strange way. The mouse will lose its natural fear of cats. This essentially cripples the mouse as it will not even attempt to escape from the cat which will then eat the mouse thus returning the parasite to its own system where the parasite needs to be to complete its life cycle. Isn’t nature wonderful? What happens if humans get infected with this parasite? Perhaps living in an apartment with twenty cats is the human response to the parasite. At any rate, cat lovers are the easiest audience in the world, just show them cats. You can start an only cats all the time YouTube channel and make a million overnight. Why hasn’t anyone done this, if someone hasn’t already done this? It will only make your cat famous and only a real cat lover would want that.
Follow this helpful, insightful advice and you will be guaranteed to produce a million viewed Internet viral video.
Neal Warner is an artist, writer, filmmaker, member of the multimedia band The Tooners and founder of Director’s Clip, The Internet and Music Video Sponsorship Site (www.directorsclip.com)
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