Normally when hired to make a promotional video for a Hollywood feature film, you focus on promoting the film. Instead, filmmaker Casey Neistat spent the entire $25,000 budget he was given to promote “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” to fly to the Philippines and help the victims of the recent typhoon which devastated the region. Renting two buses filled with supplies, Neistat ended up delivering 10,000 meals, tools to 35 villages, and basic medicine to local organizations.
The New York based filmmaker is the writer, director, editor and star of the HBO series “The Neistat Brothers” and has released dozens of short movies on his YouTube account.
Watch Neistat’s video documenting the relief effort below. And scroll down for his description of the whole process.
(And thanks to John N Nida Dalldorf and Jacob Mosler for the tip on this one….)
About the Video — by Casey Neilstat (from YouTube “About”)
no crew traveled with us, it was just Oscar and me. we filmed this ourselves, with a tripod, using my personal cameras.
the whole story; i often get solicitations for work, all kinds of companies, people, organizations etc asking if i would be interested in making a video for them. i was really concerned after the typhoon, as anyone with a heartbeat was. left with the frustration and guilt i often feel when i learn of other people suffering, a guilt for not being able to help more. i had made donations but it’s hard to see or feel the effects of ones contributions. a few days later i was contacted by 20th Century Fox, they wanted to know if i could make a promotional film to get the word out about Ben Stiller’s great new movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Mitty is a movie about chasing a dream and they wanted me to make a movie about chasing a dream. I am a big dreamer but at that time only one thing came to mind; if i could do anything in the world right now what would it be? that’s to help the victims of the typhoon. i, someone crassly, replied to 20th Century Fox that the only movie i wanted to make is one where i give away the budget to those in need. i still don’t understand how or why but they agreed. i jumped on a plane with my best friend and fellow adventurer Oscar and we flew to Manila. there was little time to think or plan before we left, actually we did zero planning before we left. my original thought was that we’d connect with an NGO already in place, a non-profit that’s already doing a lot of good, and i’d simply hand them a check. but that turned out complicated and it sort of felt like the non-profits we contacted did not want to link up with us. so on a whim we decided to launch our very own relief mission. it was complicated and at first improbable but with the help of an extremely loving group of locals, all who were total strangers, we were able to stretch the production budget really far. beyond the food distributed in the video we also worked with a local nurse and purchased a lot of medicine and medical supplies, as well as providing tools to village leaders to be shared within the village and aid in the rebuilding process.
never have i met such people with the resilience of these typhoon victims. there was one thing that stuck out, one big huge tiny thing, that was; of everyone we were face to face with, thousands of people, not once, at anytime for any reason did anyone complain. no one. their focus was on rebuilding and healing, not sympathy.
big thank you to Fox and Ben Stiller for not freaking the fuck out when they saw what i did with their money.