When 20th Century Fox approached independent filmmaker Casey Neistat, asking him to help in promoting Ben Stiller’s new movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Neistat made a bold proposal.
“You give me your money,” he responded, “and I’ll go spend every penny of it to help the folks in the Philippines whose lives are in upheaval after the worst Typhoon in recorded history.”
To their credit, 20th Century Fox bought it. They gave $25,000 to Neistat, and he and his friend took off for the Philippines—to document their adventure on film, but most of all to help the displaced men, women and children who wandered the storm-ravaged island in search of food and shelter.
Here is their story.
Casey Neistat, a high school dropout who fathered a child at 17, lived on welfare, then worked as a dishwasher and short order cook and later a bike messenger, has developed a highly successful career as a film director, producer and creator of popular YouTube videos since 2010. Neistat’s YouTube videos include iPod’s Dirty Secret, which was viewed more than a million times in its first six days on the web, and a series called Science Experiments. His creative short videos have been so popular that they have been 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 screen.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a James Thurber short story which is required reading on high school reading lists, tells the story of a mild-mannered man who is bullied by his overbearing wife, and who escapes into a fantasy world of his own imagining. The 2013 film has modernized the story, adding electronics and technology which were not present in the original story in 1939—but it looks great! Ben Stiller, as the shy Mitty, is both the star and the director. Also appearing are Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Patton Oswalt, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn and Sean Penn. The movie was filmed in Manhattan and the Bronx in May 2012, and in Iceland from July to September 2012. The film, which is rated PG, is scheduled for release on Christmas Day.