It’s obvious that the magical powers of Facebook and YouTube can make any home-made product almost more popular than highly rated television shows. Even though television broadcasts are predominantly being watched at home, in the evening (sometimes in the morning), the Internet prevails during the day, as it’s mostly being used for work or studying. Short and funny video clips spontaneously spread among people, continuously gaining more and more audience. They spread like a virus, thus the name viral video. This process originated in America and, today, almost every country and continent has its own online characters, which amuse fellow citizens on a regular basis.
For example, the pioneers in the Czech Republic have become two handsome young men Erik Meldik and Čeněk Stýblo. Initially, they had a common desire to work on television. Their goal was to stand “in front”, “behind” or at least “next” to a camera. However, luck wasn’t on their side. Therefore, they came up with an idea to try out their talents on the Internet. According to both, the beginning wasn’t easy. Being almost penniless, they invented and filmed their videos during work time. It took them four years to gain the necessary experience. They filmed, studied, analyzed and watched thousands of videos, learning marketing and communication skills. Accumulated knowledge was then used to create the ViralBrothers agency, which specializes in viral videos. Within their framework, the guys have implemented numerous projects, one of which is a YouTube show called Debilní kecy (can be translated as Stupid Chatter). This show brought them coveted popularity and almost 3 million hits on the Internet.
A Youth Time correspondent met with Erik and Čeněk in Prague, and talked with them about their show, about the difficulties they encountered on their way to fame and about how to make an online show.
How did you come up with the idea of the project Debilní kecy?
Erik Meldik: We were inspired by the worldwide famous show Shit People Say. Many people have tried to make a parody, but there was nothing like that in the Czech Republic. We thought: why not make a similar trend in our country. Thus, the name Debilní kecy was born. It wasn’t a bad idea, one of the best in the history of our business. (Laughs)
Your show is very well adapted to the local audience. As far as I am aware, even foreigners, living in the Czech Republic, enjoy watching your videos. Where do you find inspiration and themes for the new episodes?
Čeněk Stýblo: We take an individual approach to every video. Overall, the method is always the same. We always sit down, come up with a topic and then separately write the script. We try to reach a wide audience. The show displays all stereotypes, which people have but are unaware of. Everyone thinks that he or she is unique, but, eventually, we realize that we are all the same and we laugh about it.
E.М: For example, before shooting our last video Debilní kecy na Vánoce (Stupid chatter for Christmas) we had to do a few things: first, we collected data about what people are going through during Christmas and what is special about the Czech Christmas. Then we filmed the video based on the main stereotypes. It turned out to be quite funny. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without socks (the most popular Christmas gift in the Czech Republic) and carp (the main Czech festive dish) jokes. By the way, I did a little research to see if similar videos existed and I can say that we are the Christmas pioneers in this area. (Laughs)
How many people work on a video and how long does it take to make it?
Č.S: We do everything ourselves.
E.М: We try to do everything ourselves, but when we need someone to hold the camera, for example, or if we need to create a crowd, we first turn to our friends, or just write to fans on Facebook, as we always get a lot of requests. As for the timing, it usually takes about 2 to 3 weeks to make a video. The most time-consuming task is to come up with an idea and the actual implementation only takes about a week.
What equipment do you use to shoot your videos?
Č.S: Just a regular SLR camera. Today, a lot of videos are being shot on a camera and the video quality is comparable to the camcorder quality.
How much does it cost to make such a video?
Č.S: Our work is expensive; we need to always come up with new ideas (laughs). Sometimes we buy accessories, but they don’t cost much.
E.М: We can’t even say that we are cheaper than our competition. We don’t have any competition.
What are your plans for the future?
Č.S: We have certain plans. We want to make a world hit and get a billion hits. For many, this may sound strange; people think that we are crazy. Yet, when we started the ViralBrothers project, our viral videos had about 50,000 hits; today we have almost 3 million.
E.М: We want a billion hits. You can write it. (Smile)
In the Czech Republic, it’s impossible to gather such an audience for sure, and very unlikely to do so even in the whole Europe. Are you planning to make a show in English?
E.М: It doesn’t have to be in English. Do you know the song Gangnam Style? Recently, it has been playing on every radio station. Well, it’s in Korean, but its video still got over a billion hits on YouTube. It’s just that the song is funny, amusing and exotic, thanks to the Korean language. People do not even need to understand the text.
What about the old dream of a television career? Did you ever think of promoting Debilní kecy on television?
Č.S: We don’t have such ambitions. Our priority is the Internet. Of course, if someone will want to screen our show on television, they can do it.
What advice can you give to young people who dream of such a project? How to realize it? What to look for?
E.М: It’s all about working. A person does not become successful out of a clear sky. For example, for us, it took four years of learning, efforts, gathering of experience, and self-confidence. We did a lot of things wrong and for nothing. However, the one who wants to, who has a goal and who follows through can be successful.
Č.S: First of all, you need to find something that is interesting to you and start working on it. Do not try to make money at any cost. For example, even if we didn’t get paid for it, we would still continue shooting videos, just as we did for the past four years. If someone wants to make online videos, first, it is necessary to understand what is interesting for people and then give it all. We first did this in parallel with our work, we were thinking about our projects and concepts at work; hopefully our former employers won’t find out (laughs). What can we suggest to young people? It’s all easier than ever before: for example, how did Justin Bieber become famous? He began publishing videos that his mother shot when he was young. People liked them, and, so, he became popular. We don’t need millions to make a hit. We shoot our videos at home, in the living room, spending only a few crowns, and people still watch us. We all know that Facebook and YouTube are very popular, and those who use both platforms, connecting them in the same way that we do it, can implement very successful projects.
Photo: From the Archive of Erik Meldik and Čeněk Stýblo