'YouTube Pranks Need A Reset' - Exclusive Interview With Roman Atwood, VitalyzdTV And Dennis Roady
11 April 2016, 14:56 | Updated: 17 July 2017, 12:15
We talk to Roman Atwood, VitalyzdTV And Dennis Roady about their new movie and about the state of pranking on YouTube
YouTube pranking superstars Roman Atwood, VitalyzdTV And Dennis Roady have a brand new prank movie 'Natural Born Pranksters' out right now. We had a little chat with the fellas about what to expect from the movie, their experiences as creators and their opinions on the current state of pranking on YouTube. We conducted the interview over the phone with all three of them so Roman took the lead, for the sake of clarity.
Benedict: “So obviously going from YouTube to a full blown film is a huge change in terms of scale, budget and scope. What kind of new challenges did that present to you guys?
Roman: It was a lot to get used to, we’re used to shooting very quick shots. We had thirty crew members out on the streets with us at one time. We had to remember where all of the cameras were and pause for reactions. We also had to wait for release forms, which could take five minutes each time. These were all new things that we had never done before, lots of people in the department.
Benedict: “Were there any pranks that were impossible to do or considered too out there?"
Roman: Yes, we wrote over four hundred pranks for this movie but we only managed to get legal approval of around thirty-four. The pranks that are in the movie are all great pranks; sometimes it was a case of legal saying “yes” but the budget saying “no”. The pranks in the movie are ones we’ve never done before; maybe in part two we’ll be able to do the rest.
Benedict: “You announced this film way back in 2014. Since then, there has been a lot of change in YouTube pranking. What kind of changes have you guys noticed?”
Roman: In general, there’s a lot more content going up of people doing pranks. We saw this coming back in 2014, when we were first pranking, we definitely stood out. Then it inspired way more people to start pranking, which is great. The problem is that it’s harder to shock somebody on anything anymore. People have digital content at their fingertips, in their pocket and they can watch anything. Everyone has become conditioned to crazy shocking videos.
Benedict: “People have started getting more controversial with their pranks. There are often people saying, “Oh they’ve gone too far”. Do you think it’s possible to go too far? Or do you think that at a certain point it’s not even pranking anymore, it’s idiotic?”
Dennis: I would say going out there with the intention of getting in a fight, getting punched in the face; actively seeking that out is a problem. I just focus more on trying to be clever and fool someone’s mind. I prefer screwing with people’s minds.
Benedict: “Sure, is that something you realised as you started making prank videos? You realised you could have an impact on peoples minds?”
Roman: Yeah, I did a prank where I asked somebody to take a picture of me. I have a baby in a stroller on the edge of a pier and as I’m asking them to take the picture, the stroller falls off the pier. That’s funny because they freak out and then they look and the strollers on a rope and there a doll inside. At that point they’re so happy and relived in the situation. Then we point to the cameras and reveal that it’s a prank, their happy it’s not real and that’s the kick out of the whole thing.
Benedict: “So you think that positivity is ultimately quite an important part of a prank?”
Roman: Yeah, I mean we all have different styles of how we pull pranks but that’s important.
Benedict: “So many kids today want to start their own prank YouTube channel. Is there any advice you would give to a newcomer, considering you're experts?”
Roman: I think that simple, very innocent street pranks are going to come back online. The world is missing that, things have gotten so crazy, that it’s going to reset. It’s going to go full circle and come back to where it all started.
Dennis: All the creators who are producing original content on YouTube will succeed as long as it’s unique.
Benedict: “Do you agree that to be a successful prankster on YouTube today, you have to be shocking? Or is the success in the fun element?”
Roman: Yes, when we first started pranking our first two viral pranks were an empty five-gallon water jug and we got people wet. The second was a purse on a string and when people went to grab it, we pulled it. Those were the first two videos that went viral for us. It was all about having fun, we just happened to get lucky with the reactions to both videos. We worked extremely hard to get those reactions. We spent around two or three days making and editing those videos so we did it for fun. No one was even make money on YouTube back then so be successful in anything, not just pranking, you have to do what you love and put it out there for people to see.
Benedict: “Aside from your many subscribers, what kind of person do you think would enjoy your film?”
Vitaly: I think the beauty of pranks is that they are relatable. It’s human nature to laugh at other people to an extent. To me, from the premiere we’ve seen old ladies and then little kid’s laughing. I believe the film relates to everybody. I think anyone can watch this movie and enjoy it. They’re going to smile at it at least once!
Benedict: “So you do think kids can see the movie?”
Roman: We had some kids at the theatre for sure; it’s all up to the parents really.
Benedict: What were your personal highlights from making the movie?
Roman: After we filmed the movie and it was done, we got a call back to go and do more pranks. The pranks that were approved are some of the best pranks, ones that we’ve always wanted to do. For example, the Chinese restaurant prank, the baby swap prank. Classic pranks where people in those situations will talk about in the future. The fact that we are able to pull all that together is why we make great videos for people to watch. Those are probably the most awesome pranks from the movie.
Benedict: Thanks guys!
'Natural Born Pranksters' is available basically everywhere, right now! You can find a place to watch it right here.