The ability to go viral is incredible. You can pull and hold the attention of potentially millions of people for a brief moment over the course of about two days. My actual experience doing this was exhilarating and terrifying and had the usual excessive levels of praise and hate.
In 2014, we moved into a large loft space in East Oakland. My plan was to focus on building ridiculous contraptions and post videos of them and it was a great space for this. Almost right after moving in, my focus was pushed very quickly back to Minnesota and family health issues. After a month on FMLA back in Minnesota, we decided to get out of the SF Bay and move back to Minnesota that next summer. I lost pretty much all interest in doing the same types of projects I was doing but I managed this last one.
I made this project because I knew there was a good chance it would go viral. I think it was a badge of honor thing more than anything else. Many people I knew had a project that had gone viral and I wanted to have that achievement as well. I was also about to leave this strange and wonderful life that I had been living for the last three years and I wanted to have a strong exit.
I left San Francisco in a short bus filled with robots and the smell of Easy Cheese lingering in the air.
I did a total of three videos but the first was the biggest success. In less than 24 hours, it had gotten over a half million views and had been written up on numerous blogs and news organizations. I made the front page of Maxim, and Time called me "a slightly mad evil-genius." I think being able to legitimately say those two things made this project more than worth it.
One of the things that happens when you have a video take off is that companies will start contacting you to get exclusive rights to the video. I had no idea what this meant but they were ruthless in trying to get in touch with me. I had someone find and call me at my work number... multiple times. I was offered up to $400 up front and 60% of any royalties they got for selling the video. I hesitated for a few days because of artistic integrity and all that nonsense. I ended up selling both this video and the third one. I sent the money I made on the first video to my Ugandan friend who was trying to get enough money to arrange a visa and fly out to work in United Arab Emirates. It made me feel better about taking the money. All together, I received about $1500 from this project. Most of that money came from licensing an image from this project to a contest put on by Easy Cheese.
I made all three videos in just over a week. It was a fun week but I was glad to end this project. Easy Cheese is disgusting and it smells really bad when you have a big pile of it in front you. I used a total of four cans to make the videos.