rundown of Michigan's riser
I was recently interviewed (by a freshman girl for her English class... gotta start somewhere) about my "Pre-Gaming with Pat" videos and thought some people might be interested in reading this to learn more about how they came to be:
What gave you the idea for Pre-Gaming with Pat? When did you start doing it?
Last year before the UConn game some Michigan fans were promoting something online called "Mustaches for Michigan," so I decided to grow out my beard and get a straight razor shave into a mustache before heading down to tailgate with my friends. I thought it would be funny to film people's reactions to my mustache and maybe interview other people with mustaches, but I wasn't sure how receptive people would be to being filmed. I grabbed my Flip camera right before I walked out of my apartment and figured it would be something that I sent to a few friends, but nothing more than that. As the day went on I found that people really wanted to be on camera (mostly because they were drunk) and I ended up getting some really funny footage. I figured the video would be a lot more exciting if it featured music, so I used a song by All Out called "Lights" that I had been playing on repeat in my apartment and edited it using iMovie the next day. It's actually the first video on my Youtube page, although I've been making videos since high school. I had no expectations when I posted it; I figured some of my friends might enjoy it, but everyone seemed to like it (some people even "liked" it on Facebook). I think the only places I posted it were on my Facebook page and in a forum on MGoBlog, but people seemed to get a kick out of it.
What was the initial reaction to Pre-Gaming with Pat? How did/do you promote it?
The first one was received well, but the reaction was nothing compared to how people responded to the videos I made this year. I think the biggest reason why these videos have caught on is because I know more people on campus than I did when I made last year's video. I had to stop making pre-gaming videos last year after the first one because I joined the lacrosse team and I would've gotten the team in trouble if I continued to promote alcohol consumption, so I spent the rest of the year focusing primarily on my classes and lacrosse. I also blogged for Inside Lacrosse and made video blogs that accompanied my posts that were very similar in style to the first Pre-Gaming with Pat video (in that they featured music prominently and were a combination of interviews and action, in this case lacrosse practice or games).
By the time I moved back to Ann Arbor in the fall after graduating last spring and working at at an advertising agency in Boulder more people knew who I was (because of my lacrosse videos, how often I frequented Rick's, etc.) which helped tremendously, both with filming the videos and promoting them. After the Notre Dame "Under the Lights" video came out I didn't really have any problems getting footage, but the first two videos were difficult because people didn't know why I was filming. It's very uncomfortable to stand in a crowd of drunk college students (some of whom are underage, all of whom will want a job someday) while holding a giant camera, but as the videos became more and more popular people became more receptive to being in them.
To promote these videos I relied mostly on social media to help spread the word. Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are the main sites that I use, and they're all amazing tools if you know how to work them. I've learned a ton about how to reach a wider audience just by trying different promotional methods on these sites. Getting the videos on sites like MGoBlog and BroBible was also extremely helpful because it helped me reach a different kind of audience beyond just college students at the University of Michigan. I really wish I didn't have to self promote, but I've learned that it's necessary at this stage of my career if I want people to see my stuff.
When you're conducting interviews, how you do go about choosing your subjects?
I tried to interview as wide of a variety of people as possible, but as the season went on that became more difficult because I realized that most of the people who were watching the videos were college students. I also broke my ankle after the fourth video, so I was forced to stay in one place and wasn't able to walk around and interview people outside of the fraternity pre-games. I tried to find people who knew a lot about Michigan football for the interviews, but I think anyone who has seen the videos knows that a lot of the humor comes from how little some people knew about the games that they were pre-gaming for.
Do you go into the day knowing which questions you want to ask?
The night before every game I would write out a few questions I wanted to ask people based on who Michigan's opponent was that week, but for the most part I would just ask questions that I thought would produce a humorous answer. My favorite question from all the videos was from the Eastern Michigan game when my friend Skyler Fulton asked an older professor at Michigan "what was it like playing for Fielding Yost?". That was a question I thought of on the spot (I would've asked it myself but I was holding the camera at the time) and while it had nothing to do with that week's game, I thought it was funny and it makes me regret not asking more spontaneous questions throughout the series.
Do you edit the videos yourself?
Yes. I use Final Cut Pro for editing and each video took six hours on average to complete. In addition to a list of questions, I went into every game with a song in mind for that week's video. That helped with knowing how much footage I had to shoot and what kinds of shots I needed to film in order to ensure that the visuals fit with the theme of the song. Youtube is very strict with copyright laws so I try to use music from up and coming artists; I'm not a huge fan of "mainstream" music and I've developed great relationships with some of the artists whose songs I've used in my videos. My favorite artist is Hoodie Allen and his brother is a freshman at Michigan, so when he visited Ann Arbor for the San Diego State game I made sure he got a cameo in that week's video, which made me look a lot cooler than I actually am. As an aspiring comedy writer I understand and appreciate the value of someone sharing my work with their friends and/or fan base, so I'm always happy to help promote talented artists and help their music reach a wider audience.
The most difficult part of editing the videos was deciding what interviews to use and which ones to leave out. There were many interviews I had to leave out that I really wanted to use because the person said something offensive or something that could've potentially hurt their personal image or future job prospects. My intent with making these videos was never to embarrass anyone or get anyone in trouble; I simply wanted to showcase how unique and awesome the pre-gaming experience at Michigan is.
What has been your most ridiculous experience through Pre-Gaming with Pat?
I think being recognized by people around town and getting positive feedback is the most ridiculous thing to me. I don't really think of myself as a performer, but I've realized that I have to do more than just write if I want to be noticed and eventually make a career in comedy. It's funny because before I decided to play lacrosse last year I was planning on focusing entirely on comedy and my career, but if I hadn't joined the team I wouldn't have met many of the people who helped make these videos a reality. Like I said before, these videos are controversial and difficult to make because people don't typically want to be filmed when they've been drinking alcohol, but the connections I've made allowed me to go to different pre-games around campus and get footage because my friends allowed me access and explained what I was doing to people who didn't know me or hadn't seen the videos.
As far as filming goes, the most ridiculous thing I saw was when I was shooting the last video of the year before the Ohio State game. I saw (and filmed) a kid who was dancing on a tabletop to Avicii's "Levels" suddenly stop, pull the trigger, vomit into a bush, wipe off his face, and resume dancing. Obviously it was something that I would never use in a video, but it all happened within a matter of seconds and I thought it was humorous that I was the only person to notice it. Whenever that song came on I always got incredible party footage, so I have take a moment and give a special shout-out to Avicii for his contribution to my videos.
Now that so many people recognize the series, do you find that people act differently around you? How so? How has the show affected you personally?
It certainly hasn't hurt my ability to meet girls at the bar, but other than that nothing has really changed. I love when people come up to me and tell me they've enjoyed something I made, but it also makes me uncomfortable because I'm not sure I deserve recognition at this point in my career.
These videos all stem from me wanting to show off one of my favorite aspects of my time as a student at Michigan, and I get the most satisfaction when someone tells me that they wish they had gone here or that they want to go here after watching them. Obviously I hope no one chooses to attend the University of Michigan solely because of my videos, but I think Michigan has a reputation amongst outsiders as not being the most fun place to go to school when in reality it has the best combination of academics, athletics, and social life of any school in the nation. I'm glad I was able to give students and alumni an opportunity to show their friends just how unique and fun our football Saturdays can be.
Do you plan to continue with the show next year now that you've graduated? What are your plans for the future? Do they involve comedy?
As of now, I have no idea. Besides showing off how awesome the pre-game experience at Michigan is, the main reason why I made these videos was to try to convince people that I'm funny. I've found that if I post a comedy sketch or a clip of me performing stand-up comedy it won't get many views, but if I show girls dancing on tabletops for thirty seconds, followed by ten seconds of me trying to be funny, followed by girls dancing on tabletops for thirty seconds, more people will be willing to watch it. I'm fully aware that the "success" of these videos is largely due to the fact that Michigan students and alumni are so passionate about their school and not because I'm funny or good at editing or any other reasons that have to do with my abilities. I'm hesitant to keep making them because I don't want to be known only as the guy who makes pre-gaming videos or as the guy who piggybacks off of the University of Michigan.
The only way I would consider continuing the series in the future would be if I could find a way to travel to a different college campus each week for a game. I'd like to start traveling more and I'm a huge college football fan, but I'm also a broke, unemployed film major, so as of now the likelihood of any of this happening is extremely slim. The only way I could foresee it working would be if I could convince a website to sponsor me and pay for my travel expenses, which I'm currently looking into. But if anyone who's reading this wants to fund it themselves, that'd be great too.
My plan right now is to stay in Ann Arbor for a few more months while my ankle heals and continue making comedy videos until I can justify moving to Los Angeles or New York. My dream job would be to write for a website like Funny or Die, but I need to work extremely hard if I'm ever going to achieve that. As far as future projects go, I'm currently filming a mockumentary called AMCULT 315: Rick's vs. Skeeps based on a fake syllabus I wrote during my senior year at Michigan. After that, I have no idea. I have a lot of projects lined up, but it all depends on who is available and which video I'm in the mood to make.
How do you deal with some of the bad press that you get? i.e. Negative comments on Youtube, etc.
I try to make myself very available and approachable online, but I don't worry about Youtube comments, or any online comments for that matter. That's not to say that I don't read them or respond to them or appreciate the feedback, but my mindset whenever I'm making anything is to try to create something that me and my friends would enjoy. While it's frustrating to make a video and see it get a great response on one site and ripped apart on another, I've learned that you can't please everyone. I just hope that people understand that I made these videos to try to capture how much fun students have on football Saturdays without hurting anyone or getting anyone in trouble, and I think that, for the most part, I succeeded in doing that.
What was your personal experience with Michigan pre-games like when you were a student?
I had a great time, and I'm glad no one was filming me. Let's leave it at that.
What's your favorite pre-gaming memory?
I don't have one specific favorite memory from pre-games as a Michigan student or as a graduate. I just love the anticipation of waking up early on a Saturday morning and knowing that I'm about to spend a few hours with my best friends before going to the biggest football stadium in the world and watching the team I've loved since I was born play for 60 minutes. It's so special to me and it gives me chills just thinking about it.
I've lived in Ann Arbor since I was three months old, but I had no idea that these kinds of pre-games existed until I transferred to Michigan from Bucknell (a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania) in the Fall of 2009. Up until that point I had only gone to games with my Dad, and while I heard my friends who attended U of M talk about pre-games, I was amazed at how much fun they actually were. To see so many fans come together and bond before the game is incredible to watch, and I still can't believe that I was lucky enough to spend two years as a student here.
What does your family think about the series?
I'm not sure my parents fully understand what I'm trying to do career wise, so it's hard to say with them. They both enjoy watching the videos, but the fact that I'm not getting paid to do any of this concerns them. My brother is currently choosing between attending Wharton, Tuck, and Michigan to pursue his MBA and my sister goes to Harvard, so they're both making life a little more difficult for me. They have a better idea about the career path I'm trying to pursue, but until I can start supporting myself I don't think anyone in my family is going to be completely enthusiastic about what I'm doing.
Is there anything else that you think people should know about the series?
If there's one thing I've learned from making these videos, it's that you have to work with what you have. I don't have much production experience and I know just enough about my camera to get by, but I have a pretty good knowledge of college football, lots of connections on campus, and I like to think that I know what college students and recent graduates are interested in seeing. I think some people who only know my "online persona" think I have my shit together and that I know exactly what I'm doing, but none of this would have happened if I hadn't stuck a Flip camera in my pocket over a year ago.
One of my favorite quotes is "It has taken me all of my life to get to where I am now." I keep a piece of paper in my wallet with this quote written on it to remind myself that no matter what amazing or idiotic decisions I make along the way, they all matter. I have no idea what these videos will do for my career, but I'm glad that I was able to capture what pre-games are like for (not all) students at Michigan. It still amazes me that people enjoy watching them and I really hope I can continue making them in the future.
I'd like to thank everyone who has helped me, whether it was by helping me film or just sharing a video with their friends online. I hope I can continue to create content that people enjoy and I'm very grateful for all of the support I've received from people at the University of Michigan. Thanks again, and GO BLUE!