Untitled Guest Post
by John Field
Fri Nov 20 '20
The above video, where I quickly explain why the USA Network logo is perverted, is the most popular video I ever made. It’s less than a minute long and probably took me less than 20 minutes to shoot from set-up to wrap-up.
The whole idea was an absolute after-thought; at the time, I was making a community access TV-show, the John Field Show. We modeled the show loosely around Sesame Street (“Sesame Street for adults” was a big goal that we worked around) specifically the show’s structure of being a variety show that was built more around informing the audience than making them laugh, so for us that meant more surreal or goofy segments that involved interviews, or filming weird situations outdoors and experimental shorts.
The way we would film, when we had to do studio segments, was we’d book two hours at the local community access studios (that was the limit) and set-up a three-point lighting kit and try to build a couple of segments off of a couple of loose guidelines. Sometimes that meant that just showing up with a bunch of props, throwing them on the floor and seeing what ideas pop out to us. Sometimes that meant more pre-determined stuff, like guest interviews or a monologue. Sometimes we would think up an idea the day of and quickly try to shoot it. We tried to avoid traditional sketches, I think just because I think…I dunno…I guess part of it was that traditional sketches was overplayed online.
But last year, we were going to do the shoot, and I was watching the USA network and, while looking at the logo, I was thinking as a kid how a friend explained to me that the logo looked like a dolphin sucking a man off, and I thought it would be a fun segment to shoot for the show. So, the next morning, before the shoot, I ran off to the local Office Max, got it printed on blueprint paper, and came to the studios and we shot the darn thing.
It’s a short video, and there’s not a lot to say about it. I think the only thing of real design to it is that I figure I’d post it on social media, so most people who’d watch it probably wouldn’t know who I am and so I would at least introduce myself. I think in videos online, it’s really important to provide context quickly. It’s something I learned from doing stand-up - people don’t know you, so you have to let them know who you are and why it is important to listen, otherwise people don’t really connect. If you’re doing a magic trick, you first have to tell the audience that you’re going to make a coin disappear, otherwise they wouldn’t know what to look for when you do the trick.
Similarly, I ended with telling people to get back to “the important thing you were doing” just as a nod to the fact that I’m probably a part of that never ending swath of content we all consume in a day. The whole arc of the video is I introduce myself, I say my stupid thing, and then I let you live your life.
So, I shot it, decided I enjoyed it enough to make it it’s own clip and posted it online and within minutes it got thousands of views. Before I even had a chance to post it anywhere, someone posted it on Reddit and from there it got to the top of r/videos…and then it spread to a bunch of other social media after that. I think the weirdest one was Ebaums world - I think of the 300,000 views, 200,000 came from that. Some insane number. There was a while where that link from Ebaum’s world accounted for 50% of my total views on my entire channel, which is so weird because I had no clue people were using the website after 2005.
Anyways, because of the video I ended up becoming a youtube partner and getting paid for my videos. Not a lot, but still it’s nice to be paid for your efforts. I think it’s not the best thing I ever made, but opened up opportunities for me and let people see the other work that I am a lot more proud of. I hope, at the very least, it changed how people look at the USA Logo.