New York-based filmmaker Casey Neistat has made short films for Nike and his keynote address today at SXSW might be summarized best by the company’s slogan: Just Do It.
Neistat told the inspirational story of how he came to become a filmmaking — by way of being a teen father on welfare living in a trailer and working as a dish washer.
When the self-taught filmmaker started to make movies with a friend (“He had a computer. I had a camera.”), Neistat discovered his passion. “It was the most exhilarating feeling in the world,” he said. “We had something we made that was this movie. It was shit. It was unwatchable, but it was fun.”
After attaining commercial success with an HBO show (“The Neistat Brothers”) and producing a successful indie film (“Daddy Longlegs”), Neistat realized he missed the basics of telling stories and, in 2010, became a “YouTube filmmaker” before it was cool. Now his YouTube films get millions of hits and he makes short films for brands — and occasionally breaks the rules.
Here are more highlights from Neistat’s talk:
On getting his start
It’s not a very glamorous story. People say ‘how did you get your start?’ They want to know about HBO and features… But it was this sensation, this feeling I had that got me so excited that I wanted to pursue it for the rest of my life. That’s the love of the game.
My baby mama dumped me. I moved to New York City when I was 20 years old, started making movies non-stop. I didn’t have any friends so I would just sit at home all night editing on my iMac.