How Hungry Beast spawned a viral hit

In this guest post, Lewis Hobba and Marc Fennell reveal the inside story of how Hungry Beast created a viral hit

In April the good folks at mUmBRELLA took a break from arbitrarily adding capital letters to its name to write a short piece about a video made for ABC’s Hungry Beast that had hit one million views on YouTube.  

The article discussed the significance of the clip having been seen more times online than had originally watched it go to air.

The video, a parody trailer for Avatar 2, has continued quietly ticking over and now has well over 2.5 million views online. That means if we gather up every person in the world who’s watched it, it’s only about seven times less popular than MasterChef.

Obviously we have a full feature length ‘making of’ documentary coming out next summer, but in the meantime, here’s a little information about the creation of the clip YouTube fans are calling “придурки!!!!”

‘Avatar 2 Trailer’ was written, produced and fronted by Lewis Hobba and Marc Fennell (henceforth called ‘us’ or ‘we’) with script editor Chris Taylor constantly on hand to tell us that no one over the age of 25 would get the film references we had written in.

It took quite a few drafts before we settled on the films we would use as references. In particular the film we were going to use as the moment when the joke was revealed (which ended up being the unmistakable Star Wars line). It narrowly pipped ‘There’s a bomb on this spirit tree!’.

We were also keen to sneak in a few references to more obscure films, but after running it by many unimpressed faces around the office we decided against it – although we maintain an Avatar version of ‘Jules Et Jim’ would be worth seeing.

Directed by Aaron Smith (with additional Steadicam work by Susan Lumsdon), the whole sketch took two days to shoot; one day in front of green screen and running in and around the foyer of the ABC Ultimo Studios, and the second split between a bus, a forest, and a waterfall. The blue Avatar makeup took three hours to apply by an amazing artist named Juliette Flanagan (you should totally hire her).

We did some generic ‘action film’ running shots around the ABC studios and were stopped several times by passers-by, mostly people who thought we looked ridiculous, but twice by tourists who were convinced that we were in Australia shooting the actual Avatar sequel. Right now they’re probably showing friends back home their photos with Sam Worthington, and their friends are remarking that he looks much less handsome in real life.

While shooting in the forest the production was stopped briefly by two police officers, who told us that naked blue people had been sighted in what we were then informed was a notorious gay ‘pick up’ beat.

Along with the Avatar 2 sketch, several other Hungry Beast segments have picked up quite a few hits, including ‘If Lady Gaga Weren’t a Popstar’ and as MumBRELLA mentioned in its previous article, Beast File: Google.

Zapruder’s Other Films, the production company behind Hungry Beast, is currently working with nine of the Hungry Beast team (including Marc) in coming up with new and innovative ways of creating content specifically for an online audience.

For us, it has been really surprising and exciting to see the popularity of this clip. It’s nice to know you can still do something people are impressed by without having to sail solo around the world.

It’s been particularly interesting to read feedback from YouTube users.

They range from acronyms written as if the writer intended the reader to shout theme for about 5 minutes (looooooooooool), to people who came looking for the real Avatar 2 trailer and felt robbed. There is also one user who believes “whoever made this video should be stabbed in the face”.

Definitely one of the most backhanded compliments are the comments that say ‘this is awesome – you guyz should totally write the next Scary Movie!’. We sure are glad you enjoyed it, but please don’t ever say that again. Please. We have families who already think we should get proper jobs.

Avatar 2 Details

The trailer has about 50 shots including graphics. The cast were Lewis Hobba (Jake Sully), Veronica Milsom (Neytiri), Marc Fennell (Darth Vader), Ace Spencer (Morpheus) and one whale expertly trained to impersonate Willy. The ‘trailer guy’ voice over was Triple J’s Craig Shuftan.

It aired on the 3rd of March 2010, the week of the Academy Awards, where Avatar had been nominated for nine Oscars including best director and best film (neither of which it won).

At two million hits, we’re just under five million behind the official Avatar trailer – so, look out Cameron, we’re coming for you.

  • Lewis Hobba and Marc Fennell both worked on Hungry Beast which was produced for the ABC by Zapruder’s Other Films the company that was also behind Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope, CNNNN, 30 Seconds and The Gruen Transfer

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