Viral Video: How a 2-year-old kid took over my video shoot

Last year, I wrote and directed a TV campaign for ATC Income Tax, a small, minority-owned tax preparation company in Atlanta. The campaign was built around a memorable catch phrase: “They messed us up.”

Each commercial featured people talking about their tax problems. In each example, they explain how the previous year, their tax preparer had screwed up their refund or gotten them audited. In other words, “they messed us up.”

This two-year-old actor hijacked my production, and ended up starring in a viral video.One commercial showed a mom, dad and two kids sitting around the breakfast table. It was supposed to be a simple production. The kids would sit there looking cute while mom and dad did the talking.

But one of the kids had a different idea.

He Messed Us Up

This kid—an extremely cute two-year-old named Ashton—quickly tired of munching on Cheerios and started snickering when he heard the catchphrase. For some reason, “they messed us up” was just the funniest joke in the world to him. By the third take, he was saying the line himself, either stepping on the dad’s delivery or repeating it and giggling. And of course, this made the other actors break up as well.

We zoomed in to get the kid’s close-up, in case he stopped, but the truth is, he didn’t stop. He went take after take, giggling and smirking at the camera.

ATCDad-and-sonHe didn’t stop after we wrapped, either. The kid’s mom texted me a few days later and said Ashton was still walking around the house repeating the line over and over, still giggling.

A Viral Video

With all those takes of Ashton on camera, I cut together an outtakes video for the clients enjoyment and posted it on YouTube. And of course, the outtake video far outperformed the actual commercials.

Within a few days, it had racked up nearly 20,000 hits, well on its way to becoming a viral video. It was supposedly trending quite high in Germany, though I have no idea why.

But I DO know this—that two-year-old actor was something special. By casting that kid, I didn’t “mess us up.”



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