Casey Neistat is something of a viral video legend. He's been producing, shooting, and editing videos for nearly two decades. He's done advertising work for Nike, J.Crew, and Mercedes. He's also created a handful of YouTube videos you're probably familiar with: the dangers of riding a bike in the bike lane, this one about a waterpark in Germany, and snowboarding through the streets of Manhattan. His most recent video is about turning a $399 Apple Watch gold. And it's my Apple Watch.
Early last week I received an email from Casey with a special request: he needed an Apple Watch for a video he wanted to make. He didn't tell me exactly what his plan was, but he insisted that I'd love the idea. Seeing as the Apple Watch I had already ordered was slated to arrive on Friday — the day he wanted to release the video — I obliged.
Read next: Read our Apple Watch review.
Friday morning was, for better or worse, an emotional roller coaster of sorts. At one point I thought my Watch wasn't going to come that day at all. Not only did I not want to disappoint Casey, but I wanted the Watch the day many others were getting theirs. To my surprise (and relief) the Watch arrived that afternoon. I shot Casey an email and hopped on a train.
At this point, I knew what Casey's plan was. He was going to turn my $399 Space Gray Watch gold using spray paint, DIY style, and create a short video about it. It was genius. While waiting to board the subway, a thought went through my mind: I was about to witness a mastermind create a viral video — right place, right time, good idea, impeccable execution. And I was the final piece of the puzzle.
This is how a viral video is made
I arrived at Casey’s studio short of breath, Watch in hand. His studio, in terms of production, enabled him to immediately get to work — everything was set up, he just needed the Watch. He grabbed his can of gold spray paint, fiercely unboxed the Watch, and worked his movie magic. In no time, my once-gray Apple Watch was now a shiny, actually believable gold Apple Watch. Before the Watch had even dried, Casey was off and editing the video. When the spray paint covered Watch was finally ready, he got his final shots, finished the edit, and before I knew it, the video was up on YouTube.
The video has certainly gone viral: at the time of writing, it has amassed over 1.4 million views since it was posted around 7PM ET on Friday. It has been covered by publications such as Time, Gizmodo, Mashable, 9To5Mac, and others.
And it went viral for good reason; Casey wrote his own recipe for success. He seized the opportunity to tell a fun, clever story about a new Apple product that was already being talked about around the world. And he gave people something they never quite knew they wanted: the ability to turn Apple's aluminum into gold. All he had to do was create the video, and create the video he did. Everything from the opening shot, to the title, the music, and so on, was made for the internet.
"I want something I can't have so I made it. That's it," Casey tells me in an email. He says the project was meant to be tongue and cheek, something that's "meant to make you smile." He continues, "I want a gold [Apple Watch] but I can't afford it, so I made one. It's like putting a Mercedes-Benz star on the hood of a Hyundai."
The thing about Casey Neistat is this: what you see is what you get. While in his studio, I got a true sense of his passion and craftsmanship for making videos. He's an insanely diligent worker and his execution methods are admirable. And not to mention, he knows how to spray-paint — one person has already mistaken my Apple Watch as gold. And it only cost me $399 and a few hours of my time. Thanks Casey.
Update April 27th, 2:46PM ET: this story has been updated to include comments from Neistat.
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