Open up the top trending videos page on YouTube on a random day in November and there’s a good chance there will be a video featured made by a curly-haired guy in his mid-thirties who wears his sunglasses as an extension of his body.
That guy is Casey Neistat, a former HBO television show creator who has created advertisements for notable brands such as Nike, Mercedes and J. Crew. Now he owns a mobile app company, Beme, and attempts to create a new YouTube video every day.
Neistat makes a plentiful amount of viral videos — his most recent being a look into an airplane seat that cost $21,000 for the flight.
Perhaps the reason Neistat makes viral videos is that he thinks and operates differently than most people.
Neistat lives with the mentality that the only finish line in life is death; anything besides that is a halt on self-improvement.
He values Monday as his favorite day of the week because it signals a return to work and a return to regular activity. He has an overwhelming need to be productive.
Neistat is an avid runner, and also goes through health kick phases where his favorite beverage is a raw, organic, vegan smoothie.
For example, in his daily video blogs, or vlogs, he has expressed interest in his family moving to Los Angeles, but in the past has fled the city to return to work in New York due to his misery at a lack of productivity.
Neistat acts different in that he is hyper-productive. By virtue of simply working harder and more often than others, he both increases the long run quality of his craft as well as the volume of content produced.
Get the shot
Neistat does everything in his power to get the shot, whether that be endangering himself or other cameras.
His office is home to a graveyard of camera equipment, from a multitude of drones to years of broken and beat down cameras. His defense of the broken equipment: he is now well off in the middle years of his life, and he doesn’t need to baby his equipment like he would if he were younger and had less income than he does now.
In previous vlogs, he has explained his value towards quality cameras, as well. He gives the highest level of utility to the camera that can capture the best shot. That is, a $5,000 DSLR camera will get the best shot, but it is not nearly as portable or hidden as a $300 point-and-shoot camera, meaning the $300 camera would have greater utility. A $200 GoPro camera will be much more efficient at getting the shot underwater than the $5,000 camera.
Recently, he hung on a rope ladder dangling from a helicopter just to get a shot with a 360-degree camera for Samsung. Other dangerous things he’s done include going into a war zone in the Middle East to give US soldiers tattoos, venturing to the Devil’s Pool in Africa, slack-lining over a ravine, walking through the streets of New York City during Superstorm Sandy and summiting the tallest mountain in South America without a guide or oxygen tanks.
Neistat doesn’t just do more to get the shot; he rarely can be swayed from getting the shot his mind is set on acquiring. It is ultimately beneficial to his product in the long run.
Neistat has a perpetual lack of desire to follow contemporary rules, both written and unwritten.
He has a blatant disregard of where he can fly a drone, sometimes even drawing attention from the local authorities to talk with him and have him relocate. He sometimes disregards the law to get the shot, such as when officers from the New York Police Department stopped him from filming a video about Pokemon Go in the street.
Filming in Transportation Security Administration areas and in the private inner-workings of large corporations such as Google and Samsung are a non-issue for Neistat, too. He just blurs out confidential material.
He does not follow a trend of normal vloggers, video makers or anyone else who makes content for YouTube. He’s one of the last true innovators of online video with his style deriving from his own brain, along with hints of vintage filmmakers and years of experience working in advertising.
Neistat began the trend of using a digital single-lens reflex, or DSLR, camera with a shotgun microphone attached to the top while mounted onto a Joby GorillaPod to record his daily vlogs. Previously, vloggers typically only used small and portable point-and-shoot cameras to get the same shot.
He often sets up a shot by placing a camera, hitting record, running back out of a room and then re-entering to give the shot as if he is doing it for the first time.
Neistat films differently, and then manipulates the different film in his edits to create truly unique films.
In the future Neistat will continue to grow as a filmmaker, and perhaps one day will be re-revolutionizing a different industry as well as YouTube.