In the growing world of video essay think pieces, it’s sometimes best just to let movies and TV shows speak for themselves. Enter Andy Schneider and Jonathan Britnell, the two minds behind Burger Fiction — a YouTube channel that has made a name for itself with its supercut videos.
Burger Fiction started as a much-needed creative outlet
The pair began their work in January 2015. Burger Fiction started as a year-long project: they would make 52 short films — one a week— as a sort of creative outlet, according to their website. "We’ve both always been interested in film," they told The Verge in an email, "and we’ve always talked movies since we’ve known each other. The idea to tackle cinema in our videos together was pretty natural. Our main interest in starting this project stemmed from a shared need to have another creative outlet, specifically in video."
The first videos posted to the channel were surreal and utterly captivating short videos. They took a detailed look into the workings of a toaster and a glimpse of every screen in Andy’s house. They also filmed short narratives that used film tropes: "Andy Brushes His Teeth" builds the suspense in what’s an otherwise routine experience, and a stop-motion short follows an Apple Watch unbox itself.
These short videos come in at around a minute long, but they’re entertaining, bite-sized videos that are strangely captivating, satirical, and witty. Their camera work exudes professionalism that eludes most of what you’ll find on YouTube: the cuts are clean and well edited.
The sheer randomness of some of their earliest videos make their channel exceptionally fun to watch.
It’s not until July 2015 that Burger Fiction began using clips from films. "5 Signs You Might Be A Terminator" was a zany mash-up of scenes from Terminator 2 and highlight their editing and wry humor. After this point, Schneider and Britnell began to explore other pop culture topics, such as Tom Cruise jumping, intently staring, yelling, and running, and cinema’s unconventional weapons.
It was a rapid rise for the pair, neither of whom had worked with creating videos for YouTube before. "This project started because we had worked with one another at a job in the past and ever since then we thought it would be fun to do something together again."
However, they really began to attract the most attention when they put together "Movie Phone Super Call" in September 2015, a mash-up of various movie characters on one massive phone call that gets funnier and funnier.
It’s around this time that the channel moves away from the random minutia videos and straight into pop culture. The pair noted that while they had begun filming their own original content, they found that they had quite a bit of success with their supercut episodes. "We had a lot of interest in the medium, we both are huge movie fans, and it was something different," Schneider and Britnell said. "In fact, we had much more, and consistent, success with our supercuts than we had with our filmed content."
They also noted that they sometimes had issues turning the ideas that they came up with into short films. Because the supercut videos seemed to do well, they began to focus exclusively on those. The results ranged from videos that explained franchises in a minutes time, round-ups of tropes, evolutions of classic characters, or actors, and how many times an actor kicks people:
"Once we're set on an idea, we'll create a document specifically for that video," the pair said. "We'll start listing out all possible movies and flow that might go into that idea. We use that as our starting point for the video creation."
To come up with each film, Schneider and Britnell go through the list of movies that they put together during their brainstorming sessions. "The most time consuming portion of production is going through each movie and finding the clips we need." It’s a tedious process to locate the exact clips that they need for each film, and each film takes about 30 hours to come together.
After working on the project for over a year, they discovered that they’ve become self-taught experts on cinematic technique. One of the biggest things that they discovered is how often film recycles elements. "It’s also shown us just how repeated and pervasive some ideas are throughout cinema," Schneider and Britnell said.
For the time being, the pair will continue making their weekly videos, and didn’t rule out the possibility of creating their own original content at some point again in the future.