A million views and counting: The making of 'Make It Count'

A million views and counting: The making of 'Make It Count'

Did director Casey Neistat really "scam" Nike with his film? How did the round the world trip change him? And what about those bikini girls?

Make It CountSingapore drove Casey Neistat wild.

When Nike hired director Casey Neistat and editor Max Joseph to make an advertisement for the Nike FuelBand (an athletic-performance tracking device), the Oregon-based company expected the pair to hunker down in their New York studios and come out with a killer spot highlighting the slogan, "Make It Count."

What Nike didn't count on was what the duo did next.

Instead of producing the agreed-upon treatment showing how everyday people are making their lives count, Neistat and Joseph took the money and ran -- right around the globe.

In the vernacular of the trade, they just did it.

For 10 days they circled the globe having one mammoth adventure until the entire stash ("It was a lot of money," is all the guys will cop to) ran out.

The pair racked up 34,000 miles, dropped in on three continents, 13 countries and 16 cities. The result is a "Make It Count" travel video diary that's gone viral. 

We found Neistat at home and asked him to tell us how he turned a spontaneous round-the-world trip into an Internet hit.

CNNGo: What's the story with you and Nike? Did you really just take the money and run?

Casey Neistat: The story has been sensationalized. I have a great professional relationship with Nike.  

The "Make It Count" film was the third film I was to make for Nike and at the last minute I thought, "If I could do anything in the world and make it count what would I do?"

So without much premeditation I called my friend Max and we took off on an adventure.  

Nike was expecting something different, but when they saw what we had made, they were excited.

CNNGo: Tell us about the bikini girls. Did that encounter lead anywhere?

Neistat: It led nowhere. We were trying to get a shot of me running under an airplane and they kept getting in our way. After a couple of times, the lightbulb went off that we should include them.  

They spoke zero English and were not amused by us or our cameras.  They were pretty though!

Also on CNNGo: The best holiday in the world?

CNNGo: Did you eat that awful airplane weiner?

Neistat: I did not.  

CNNGo: Where is that cliff you jumped off of?

Neistat: It's the Bimah sinkhole in Oman. Scary.

Make It CountNeistat: "I wish we had more time in Cairo."

CNNGo: Places you want to go back to and why?

Neistat: I wish we'd had more time in Cairo. Amazing city, they were so happy to have us, as tourism is non-existent since the revolution.

CNNGo: What will happen to the "Make It Count" video now apart from making the rounds on the Internet?

Neistat: I have no idea. I am so happy that people have been responding so much to it.

There are haters though. Something I will never understand. 

CNNGo: How did the "Make It Count" trip change you?

Neistat: It happened so fast at the time that there was little consideration.  

In retrospect, it has given me a greater appreciation for experience. There is little in life that can take the place of experience.

Also on CNNGo: How to disappear for a year

CNNGo: Was there anything about taking a round the world trip that drove you crazy?

Neistat: After the fourth night sleeping upright on an airplane my ankles looked like the ankles of a hippopotamus. That was frightening both for me and anyone who saw them.

Make It CountHandstands in Zambia. Just the quotidian stuff of a YouTube video director's life.

CNNGo: What got broken, lost or left behind?

Neistat: None of the four cameras brought on the trip have worked the same since. Max broke one lens in Paris. I guess expensive camera gear does not like being thrown loose in a backpack.

CNNGo: Any tips for making a "Make It Count" film of our own?

Neistat: We were constantly shooting. Enough footage to make 10 feature films.  

As far as advice, nothing takes the place of story. Tell a story and people will care. Above image quality, cinematography or anything else. Just tell a great story.

CNNGo: Estimate how many drinks you had on the trip.

Neistat: We only drank in Bangkok. This was an enormous mistake. I cannot stress enough what an enormous mistake that was. Please do not ask me to elaborate.

CNNGo: What did you edit out that you wish you could have included?

Neistat: Me arguing with an elephant trainer in the jungle of Thailand.

He wouldn't let me do a backflip off the elephant's tusks like in the Thai martial arts film Ong-Bak Thai Warrior 2, certainly the most ridiculous, nonsensical argument I have ever had.

See the "Make It Count" video on Casey Neistat's YouTube channel. Or check out caseyneistat.com

After traveling around the world on a fistful of dollars, Zoe returns to Hong Kong, where she grew up, to discover and write about all the inspiring stuff that happens here on a daily basis.

Read more about Zoe Li