How BuzzFeed Turned 10 Minutes With President Obama Into a Viral Sensation
'Things Everybody Does But Doesn't Talk About,' which features the president holding a selfie stick, was viewed more than 22 million times in 24 hours.
President Barack Obama made news this week not for immigration reform or his plans to deal with ISIS but for how he wields a selfie stick.
The president was the star of a two-minute video from BuzzFeed Motion Pictures that quickly went viral. Titled "Things Everybody Does But Doesn't Talk About," the video shows Obama making faces in the mirror, practicing a speech and then taking selfies alone in the White House library. It was viewed 1.2 million times in the first hour after it was uploaded to Facebook Thursday morning and after 24 hours had 22.8 million views.
BuzzFeed Video executive producer Andrew Gauthier tells The Hollywood Reporter that Obama was a good sport about posing with the selfie stick and making fun of himself on camera. "It was an opportunity for him to have a bit of fun and we worked with him to find the best things for him to do. He was totally into it."
BuzzFeed pitched the White House on a joint BuzzFeed News interview and BuzzFeed Motion Pictures video about four months ago and a deal eventually was struck. But once they arrived in Washington, D.C., they had to move quickly. Gauthier and his team had just 10 minutes with the president on Tuesday to shoot the video.
"We were actually able to wrap in eight minutes," Gauthier says. "We're used to making videos with limited resources and in a limited amount of time. Thankfully we were working with someone who was a really good sport, who is great at being on camera and who was really in the mood to have fun with us."
Obama's co-star in the video is BuzzFeed video producer Andrew Ilnyckyj. He operated a camera during the shoot with the president and then jumped in front of the camera to shoot their scene together. The shots of him preening in front of the mirror were taken later at place where the crew was staying while visiting the capitol.
The video features several good-humored jabs at the president, including when both Ilnyckyj and Obama respond to accidents by saying, "Thanks Obama." Gauthier says Obama was good natured about it. And he was especially invested in making sure his scenes with the selfie stick were spot on. "There was a moment too where he really wanted to get using the selfie stick correct so we had to fiddle with the camera app on the phone a little bit to make sure that he was going to be able to use it to the best of his ability."
For Gauthier and the rest of the BuzzFeed team, the inaugural trip to the White House was an exciting, and educational experience. Gauthier explains that went to a walk through on Monday without the proper attire. "I showed up wearing a shirt and denim jacket and I was very under dressed," he says, adding that the team dressed up for the shoot. "We’re not used to setting up for a video shoot wearing ties and sport coats, which was unique."
As for whether BuzzFeed can ever top the Obama video, Gauthier says he's not worried. "It was an incredible experience but we’re going to keep pushing forward. Hopefully we can do a video with Kanye West. That’s a goal."