A Web Video Sensation Two Years in the Making

TV actor Ben Giroux has been making internet videos for 10 years, often with musician and collaborator Jensen Reed. Nothing new there. What is new for the duo is spending $30k and two years of work on not even 5 minutes of internet content that, over the past week, has amassed over 32 million views on Facebook and a personal invite from AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys to perform at the group’s June 17th Vegas show. Let’s start at the beginning.

First, what? Who the hell spends two years on a web video? Ben Giroux does. I first met with Ben about a year ago and his whole ideology is: throw all your effort and resources into one or two things a year. Make a couple of big bets. That’s been the mantra of his Small Red Cape, Inc. productions. He knows there are people far better at the quantity game, so he’s tapped his considerable network of actors, creators, and crew to complement whatever vision he decides is the vision for a specific, rather long, period of time. Is every project a home run? No. But he believes in each equally, with equal vigor.

Okay, cool, but why put $30k into a video about ‘90s nostalgia? Hasn’t that been done to death?

On a recent call, Ben said that the idea for Back to the 90s stemmed from his intense longing for this era–a sentiment shared by Jensen. When they got stuck on the hook for a music video that they knew would live and die by the chorus, they tapped songwriter Jared Lee to work his magic. The result is a comedy pop opus that feels different because it’s very much not a parody. It’s an ode. Broad? Yes. But it’s also broadly relatable and…yeah, feel-good.

Managing to hit an elusive social target that’s packed with demographic crossovers, (’90s kids, their parents, 2000s kids who want to know more about the ‘90s, people who like pop groups, and on and on) Back to the 90s was engineered to be viral and actually is. In internet comedy, that’s the white whale and, while it’s tough to say if there was one element that put this over the top, it’s easy to conclude that the kind of obsessive attention to detail and focus Giroux brings to projects is a special ingredient.

Of the video’s success, Giroux says, “I feel like I’ve been waiting a decade for this moment.” He hasn’t. He’s been working for it.

Luke is an executive producer at CollegeHumor/Big Breakfast and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.

A Web Video Sensation Two Years in the Making