Casey Neistat Rocks the Oscars

Self-portrait of Casey Neistat standing in front of a camera on a tripod atop a sand dune in the desert with camels in the background. Apparently taken during filming "Make It Count" for Nike.

Self-portrait of Casey Neistat standing in front of a camera on a tripod atop a sand dune in the desert with camels in the background. Apparently taken during filming “Make It Count” for Nike.

Casey Neistat is a Game-Changer

The back-story, in case you’ve never heard of Casey Neistat, is that he was an accomplished filmmaker who also had created YouTube videos that had gone viral (over one million views). His YouTube channel grew in popularity, so he started making videos more often.

Other people started making videos about Casey because he has won several film awards, plus the word got around about his New York City “Wildly Functional Studio“. Then on his birthday last year, March 25th, he announces on his YouTube channel that from that day forward he’s going to produce one new film per day, to be released as a daily VLOG (video log), his channel started growing, faster and faster, first to one million subscribers, then rapidly to two million, as of this writing he’s at 2,274,587. His new daily videos (VLOG) can reach a half million views in the first twenty-four hours, this is a completely new phenomenon. Casey Neistat is becoming the first YouTube celebrity to go mainstream.

About one week ago Casey Neistat drops a hint in his daily VLOG that he’s in discussion with Samsung in New York City, then a few days later he drops the “Huge Announcement” that Samsung, the main sponsor for this year’s Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California, is sending Casey Neistat to the Oscars, with all-access back-stage and red-carpet pass. Plus, they set him up in a rock-star hotel room, big enough and stocked enough, to throw the biggest after-party in LA. And, on top of that they present him with a James Bond looking briefcase, that when opened has fiber optic lights to showcase 3 new Samsung gadgets that rival anything in the current hi-tech gadget market, including: 1) Galaxy phone 2) VR Headset 3) 3D camera.

Samsung made sure Casey Neistat had the coolest opportunity ever given to any web geek, they put the best person they could have ever imagined, in a position, with the best equipment, supreme film editing skills and keen sense of curiosity, where he could do something never done before. Take the audience (us) backstage and in the theater, of the 88th Academy Awards.

Casey Owen Neistat; born March 25, 1981 is an American film director, producer, creator of popular YouTube videos, and co-founder of social media company, Beme. Neistat and his brother, Van, are the creators of the HBO series, The Neistat Brothers.

Early life

Neistat was born and raised in New London, Connecticut. He dropped out of Ledyard High School in the 10th grade at age 15 and did not return to school or graduate. From age 17 until 20 he lived in a trailer park with his girlfriend, Robin, and their son, Owen. It was during this time Neistat was on welfare, a detail cited by Neistat when delivering his own biography. In 2001 Neistat moved to New York City.

Early career

Prior to moving to New York City, Neistat worked as a dishwasher and short order cook in Mystic, Connecticut. His first job in New York City was as a bike messenger.

Tom Sachs Films

In mid-2001 Neistat and his brother Van began working with the artist Tom Sachs, ultimately making a series of films about the artist’s sculptures and installations. This was the earliest work done by the brothers as a collective.

iPod’s Dirty Secret

Neistat first gained international exposure in 2003 for a three-minute film titled iPod’s Dirty Secret, criticizing Apple’s lack of a battery replacement program for the iPod. The film received national media attention and brought broad attention on Apple’s policy towards iPod battery replacements. The video clip begins with a phone call to the Apple Support 800 number, and a conversation between Casey Neistat and an operator named Ryan. Casey explains that after 18 months of use his iPod battery is dead. Ryan suggests that for the cost of labor and shipping to replace the battery Casey is better off buying a new iPod. To the music of NWA’s rap song “Express Yourself” the brothers begin a “public service announcement” campaign to inform consumers about the batteries. Using a stenciled sign reading “iPod’s Unreplaceable Battery Lasts Only 18 Months”, they spray paint the warning over iPod advertisement posters on the streets of Manhattan.

The film was posted to the Internet on September 20, 2003 and within six days was viewed over a million times. The film quickly attracted media attention and the controversy was covered worldwide by over 130 sources including The Washington Post, Rolling Stone Magazine, Fox News, CBS News, and BBC News. The film was praised as “wonderfully renegade” by the Washington Post.

Apple officially announced a battery replacement policy on November 14, 2003 and also announced an extended iPod warranty program on November 21. The Washington Post incorrectly stated that both programs were announced “days after” the movie became public. Fox News set the date of the policy change at “two weeks” after the posting of the clip and Neil Cavuto called it a “David and Goliath story” on Fox News Your World. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Sequeira denied any connection between the film and the new policy, stating the policy revision had been in the works for months before the film was released.

Science experiments

In 2004 Neistat and his brother created a film series titled Science Experiments. The 15 minute series featured a number of short films documenting various experiments. The series was included in the 26th Sao Paulo Biennial in São Paulo, Brazil. The work was popular and was eventually featured in Creative Time’s 59th Minute program showing a one-minute excerpt from Neistat’s film every 59 minutes on the Panasonic Time Square Astrovision.

Television and film

HBO series

In July 2008, Home Box Office HBO purchased an eight-episode television series, “The Neistat Brothers”, for just under $2 million. The series was created by Casey Neistat, Van Neistat, Mason Daugherty and Tom Scott. Independent film producer Christine Vachon served as consulting producer. Written and directed by Casey and Van, the show is autobiographical and told in the first person. Each of the eight episodes is made up of short stories about the brothers’ lives. The show premiered June 4, 2010 at midnight on HBO.

The Hollywood Reporter said ‘the Neistat Brothers are to film what Dr. Seuss is to literature’. Hank Stuever of the Washington post noted ‘the Neistats exhibit an enthusiasm for life that you can’t help but love’. The show was not without detractors. The blog The Zeitgeisty Report called the show ‘A cutesy, hipster-y, pretentious mess’ and went on to suggest it was “the most irritating show in HBO’s history.”

The Pleasure of Being Robbed

Casey Neistat served as Executive Producer on the 2008 film The Pleasure of Being Robbed. The film premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

Daddy Longlegs

Neistat along with Tom Scott was the producer of Josh and Benny Safdie’s second feature film, which premiered at Cannes under an alternate title Go Get Some Rosemary in 2009. Film critic A.O. Scott praised its “loose, intimate shooting-style,” and the film’s star Ronald Bronstein’s performance. He called it a “lovely, hair-raising film”. Neistat and Scott alongside director’s Josh and Benny Safdie won the Cassavetes Award at the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards for the film, under its American title: Daddy Longlegs.

Internet videos

Neistat has released 430 (as of February 6th, 2016) short movies on YouTube since the account was opened on February 15, 2010. The subject matter of the movies varies greatly and most feature Neistat. On August 24, 2015, Neistat reached 1 million subscribers on his YouTube channel.

As of February 2016, Casey has 2.2 million subscribers on YouTube.

Free $2 Bill Stickers

Casey Neistat made a video on February 14, 2012 that is almost 3 minutes long. He talks about how he made “a bunch of $2 bill stickers” and that he will give them away free to anyone who sends him a self-addressed stamped envelope to his address and he would send you stickers back. It also shows him in New York City putting them on various objects around the city.


On February 23, 2010 Neistat released a 5-minute movie about the internet site Chatroulette on Vimeo. The film was described as a 6-minute video that explains what the Chatroulette site is, how it works, and why people use it. Various experiments are conducted in the video with the findings presented in stop frame animations. One experiment found that people on Chatroulette are much more likely to talk to a woman. While 95% “nexted” Neistat, his female friend Genevieve was clicked away by only 5%.

Subway emergency brakes

In 2010 Neistat made a video about when, and when not, to use the emergency brake cord on train cars in the New York City Subway. According to the video, one should only use the emergency brake when the motion of the train poses an imminent threat to life or limb.

Bike lanes

In 2011 Neistat made a video critical of the New York City Police Department‘s ticketing of cyclists in New York City for riding outside of the marked bike lanes. In the video Neistat films an encounter with an officer wherein he receives a $50 summons for not riding within the marked lanes. Neistat then proceeds to comically ride his bike in the lane crashing into various obstructions to highlight his argument that the lanes are not always the safest place for cyclists to ride. As described in a June 24, 2011 article in the New York Times, “[Neistat] followed the officer’s order to the letter, keeping to the bike lane even when the way was blocked. And he had a friend record his painful-looking pratfalls as he crashed into obstructions, including a moving truck and a police cruiser, like a modern-day Buster Keaton.” The Guardian said that “within 24 hours, [the Bike Lanes video] has gone beyond viral and is getting him huge mainstream media attention.”

In response, New York Magazine called Neistat a “Bike-Lane Vigilante” and the film was covered by most main stream media outlets. Additionally, TIME named Bike Lanes number 8 on their Top 10 Creative Videos of 2011 list.

Neistat’s grandmother

Louise Neistat (Born Louise Celice Grossman), Casey Neistat’s grandmother, was a tap dancer and one of the Radio City Music Hall’s Rockettes during World War II. In 2004, Casey directed a video in which his grandmother made the “world’s greatest french toast” and delivered it to his son, Owen. This video can be found on Casey’s “Casey Neistat Classics” YouTube channel.

On October 31, 2011 Casey Neistat posted a 4-minute short film on YouTube about her. The video opens with Casey asking his grandmother how many more years she thinks she will put on her annual tap dance show then inter-cuts various press clippings from her accomplished life with footage from her most recent tap dance show, the focus of her accomplishments being the money her tap dancing has raised for cancer research-related charities. The video was tweeted by YouTube’s official Twitter handle and appeared on numerous news and viral video websites including the Huffington Post. 22 days after the video was released Louise Neistat died of natural causes; Casey wrote her obituary and delivered the eulogy.

Make It Count

Make It Count is a video written, directed and starring Casey Neistat for Nike. The video begins with scrolling text that reads;

“Nike asked me to make a movie about what it means to #makeitcount Instead of making their movie I spent the entire budget traveling around the world with my friend Max. We’d keep going until the money ran out. It took 10 days.”

The video then begins in earnest with Neistat and his collaborator Max Joseph traveling to the airport. Fast editing of their travels with interludes of inspirational quotes make up the film ultimately ending with Neistat returning to New York City where the story began. On April 8, 2012 Nike launched the video on their official YouTube page titled MAKE IT COUNT. The next day Neistat launched the video on his official YouTube. Neistat’s posting went viral, as within the first 5 days the film had been viewed over 3 million times.

Mashable’s Zoe Fox commented that it was “The Best Branding Story Ever Told”. A number of main stream outlets referred to Neistat’s production of the film as ‘going rogue’ including CNNGo, Fast Company and CondeNaste Traveler.

Snapchat Stories

Neistat has also begun to use Snapchat to capture moments of his life and add them to his “story”. He then adds these stories to a secondary YouTube account titled Casey Neistat’s Snap Stories. Videos for this are roughly made on a daily basis, with some days having multiple videos and other days none at all. There is no main theme to these as they showcase all different parts of his life or whatever he is doing that day.

In 2014, Neistat was listed on New Media Rockstars Top 100 Channels, ranked at #82.

Daily vlogs

Neistat started to post daily vlogs on March 25, 2015 which can be found on his YouTube channel. On May 15, 2015 his 52nd vlog post, “The Vice President, Outer Space and the Baby,” Neistat stated that he sees his vlogs more as a forum opposed to a daily journal. On January 19, 2016 Neistat posted his 300th vlog.

Snowboarding with the NYPD

On January 23, 2016, during the January 2016 United States blizzard, which caused travel bans in New York City, Neistat and Jesse Wellens filmed a video through the empty streets of New York City. The 2-minute, 41-second video, titled “Snowboarding with the NYPD,” showed Neistat being towed on a rope (he later revealed that he forgot the rope at his Connecticut home and was using a HDMI cable) on the streets and through places like Times Square. The video went viral and gained 6.5 million views on YouTube within 24 hours. Casey later released a behind the scenes video that details the making of the video.


Main article: Beme

In his July 8, 2015 vlog, Neistat announced that he has been working with Matt Hackett on building a video sharing app called Beme. The first version of Beme was launched on July 17, 2015. Designed as an alternative to highly edited content found in social media, the app enables users to produce unedited 4-second videos, which are immediately uploaded and shared with the user’s subscribers, without the ability to review the video. Users respond to shared content by sending “reactions”, photographs of themselves, back to the video uploader.

Beme released the first version of the app on July 17, 2015. Shortly after the launch, BuzzFeed described Beme’s minimalist design as “deceptively simple and decidedly weird.” The New York Times explained that Beme’s user experience is “as if the phone becomes a stand-in for one’s body, the camera facing outward to capture what the user is experiencing.” Within eight days of the app’s release, Beme users had shared 1.1 million videos and logged 2.4 million reactions.


In addition to his career in television and film, Neistat also directs television commercials, having worked with clients such as Nike, IncGoogleJ.Crew, and Mercedes-Benz.

Public speaking

Neistat has lectured on topics related to filmmaking and his life experiences.

On October 15, 2010 Neistat spoke at the South Carolina Arts Education Association Fall Conference. He was the events Special Feature Media Artist.

On February 2, 2011 Neistat Lectured in the Celeste Bartos Theater at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The lecture was described as “Casey Neistat will show and tell you how he taught himself everything from design to filmmaking since he dropped out of high school. His tools are simple; a camera, a marker, paper and scissors and anything that surrounds him, which he incorporates into stories on topics such as the subway’s emergency brake and Facebook’s privacy settings.” Tickets for the event were $40 and it was sold out. Neistat concluded his lecture by inviting Q and A participants onto the stage to choose a gift from his large cardboard box labeled Party Favors, gifts included an iPad, fake Rolex and cases of beer.

Casey Neistat spoke at The Nantucket Project on October 2, 2011. Described as an event experience that brings together a select group of eminent and accomplished visionaries, thinkers, innovators and performers to one of the most storied places in the United States. Neistat spoke for a predetermined 20 minutes along with presenters such as politician Rahm Emanuel, American Businessman Eddie Lampert, former United States Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers, Google Executive Charman Eric Schmidt and stage director Julie Taymor. Neistat’s lecture was described as a ‘witty explanation of how he chooses his topics and his methods of production gave hope to every potential filmmaker, at any income level’.

Neistat spoke at the TEDx Parker School in Chicago on March 24, 2012. The events theme was The Eye Opening Experience.

Personal life

On February 18, 2013 Neistat became engaged to Candice Pool, who is featured in many of his films. On December 29, 2013, Candice and Casey were married in Cape Town, South Africa. They have a daughter, Francine. Neistat has a son, Owen, from a previous relationship with Robin Harris.

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