washingtonpost.com
Viral Videos: How Brandon Hardesty Became an Internet Star

Brandon Hardesty and April Witt
Monday, June 1, 2009 1:00 PM

How does a shy kid from Baltimore catch the eyes of millions of people? Brandon Hardesty's crazy antics in his parents' basement have made him a celebrity, thanks to the magic of YouTube.

In a Post Magazine cover story, "Going Viral," staff writer April Witt chronicled Hardesty's rise from anonymity to online sensation to film actor. His videos can be seen at youtube.com/brandonhardesty.

Witt and Hardesty took questions Monday, June 1 at 1 p.m. ET.

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April Witt: Good afternoon. Thanks for joining Brandon and I for this chat. Working on this story was fascinating for me because the field I have devoted my working life to for more than 20 years - newspaper journalism - is trying to figure out how to survive and thrive online. Working on this story was also a lot of fun for me because Brandon is not just funny and creative, he's refreshingly polite and grounded. He joins us today after having recently finished shooting a main role in the latest movie in the American Pie series. He's also recently been working on a new Adam Sandler movie. I'm hoping Brandon will start by talking to us a little about what it is like adjusting to creating on a crowded movie set as opposed to alone in the basement. Let's get started.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi April, Great story! I am curious how you came up with the idea for this piece. Were you familiar with Brandon's videos on youtube when they were gaining popularity? Or did you find out about him somehow after the fact?

April Witt: I saw a story many months ago in the New York Times about YouTube's program to make its best amateur contributors "partners." Under that program, YouTube would then place advertising around its new partners' videos and share the revenue with them. I was stunned to read that some previously amateur videomakers were now earning six-figures on YouTube. I told my editor Tom Shroder - who is the single best features editor I have ever worked with in my life - that we should find a partner in or near D.C. to profile. Tom, who always improves every idea, suggested that we use the profile as a way to look a bit at how certain videos take off - or go viral - on the internet. I was a YouTube neophyte when I started the story. Aaron Zamost of YouTube was very gracious and patient in giving me a primer bringing me belatedly into the age of YouTube.

My nephews and my oldest stepson were also generous in showing me what they liked to watch on YouTube. (Suddenly, I was tempted to start Rick Rolling people.) I believe it was my youngest nephew, Spencer, who first showed me a video of Brandon making funny faces. Aaron Zamost also had Brandon on a list of YouTube partners he sent me. After watching far too many YouTube videos I came away most impressed with Brandon. Once I spoke with him, and realized how unspoiled and polite he was, I knew I wanted to profile him. There are certainly YouTube partners getting more hits or views than Brandon. And there are people in the D.C. region making far more money on YouTube than he is. But I just felt like he was an unusual talent and person.

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Brandon Hardesty: Hello everyone! My name is Brandon Hardesty, and with me is April Witt who wrote the article on me. I'm here for an hour to answer any questions you might have. There seem to be a lot, so I'm going to start immediately. Thanks in advance for all the questions!

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Fairfax, Va.: You mention in the article how Brandon, a shy introvert, had been able to reach out to many of his fans through his videos and develop conversations with them, and alluded to how the internet has created ways for people to possibly stay more in touch than before. I've been reading The Tipping Point, and in there the author discusses casual connections, versus "friendships", as ways that certain people connect with others without developing deep connections. Do the connections being made through venues such as YouTube seem to be more along the lines of the more casual connection, with people "collecting" fans, visitors, viewers, and even social networks? It seems it would be hard for Brandon to maintain "friendship" connections with several hundred fans, just like it seems hard for people to keep in touch with the 300+ friends many people seem to accumulate on their Facebook pages.

April Witt: That's a really interesting question. I hope Brandon will weigh in on answering this, too. From talking to Brandon I know he has a close circule of old friends which is different from the very different "community" he has on YouTube. This may be off point a bit, but I was interested to learn that there are a couple of main ways videos go viral. One is when people who actually share close relationships with each other - family members, neighbors, coworkers - email video links to one another. A somewhat separate track to video virality is when videos spread from forum to forum. Those forum to forum links are weaker links between people who share common interests, but don't really know each other directly.

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washingtonpost.com: About Rickrolling (Wikipedia) and consider yourself Rickrolled.

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Bethesda, Md.: Its interesting that Marshall McLuhan first talked about the global village in his ground-breaking book 1964 Understanding Media and could not of course predict the internet as a phenomenon. What is it about the nature of this medium that makes it so compelling to people that they sit in front of the "feel good" button and hit it until they are literally sick from being too long at a PC?

April Witt: Oh, I think the explanation - or one of them - is evolutionary biology. (Of course, that's my personal bias in life. I like to explain pretty much everything through the lens of evolutionary biology.) I think we are wired to be social creatures. There has been great scholarship around the issue of what makes humans happy. At the top of the list: connections with other human beings. More than money or power. During the many months I was covering Afghanistan for The Post, I was always struck by how Afghans smiled and laughed in their difficult circumstances much more than many of the priviledged people I encounter in Washington . I always thought the explanation was that Afghans live in a communal society with tight family/tribe/village connections. And yes, now the internet has given us a truly global village. It has given us an amazing vehicle for feeling as if we are connecting with all sorts of people - from Brandon Hardesty goofing off to Susan Boyle triumphing, then crashing.

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Frederick, MD: What was it like meeting and working with William H. Macy, someone you obviously like and admire? Had he seen your videos?

Brandon Hardesty: I never worked with him (none of my scenes in "Bart Got A Room" crossed over with his), but I did meet him briefly. He's definitely someone I admire, and after meeting him, even more so. He's such a nice guy and really down-to-earth. He told me that he had seen my videos and he was a fan. I laughed and told him that I was going to make a "Fargo" reenactment for him, which I did.

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Washington, D.C.: So how come no one can make money online? From at-home videomakers like Brandon to newspapers to everyone else, there is so much creative energy being spent creating things online but nothing monetary in return. Do we care? The great thing about the internet is that most of it is free -- rich and poor alike can see the same stuff. I love that democratic feel, but it also feels like its exploiting the creators.

April Witt: We should care that places like The Washington Post and the New York Times struggle to make money on the internet. We should really care. The work of John Kelly and others showed, for example, that during the 2008 presidential election the vast majority of bloggers on the political right and left linked to a short list of primary sources for their information. Topping that list: The Washington Post and New York Times. If traditional news organization can no longer to afford to pay skilled, experienced journalist to report the facts that bloggers respond to, what are the implications for Democracy? How can we have an informed voting public if the fact-gatherers have gone the way of the Mastadons, and all we are left with are strident, skewed opinions.

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Wirral, U,K: when did you start getting loads of subscribers?

Brandon Hardesty: By the fifth video I uploaded, I started getting a lot of subscribers. Someone on SomethingAwful.com started a thread about my videos, and that sort of got the ball rolling. My "Princess Bride" reenactment was also featured on the front page of YouTube for a few days, so that definitely got me some subscribers.

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Manassas, Virginia: Can we expect research like that of Dr Kelly to bring us each more spam attracted by our viewing habits on the web?

April Witt: Well, I can answer pretty confidently that Dr. Kelly has no personal interest in spamming you. But certainly, as people with all kinds of interests - political causes, products to sell, newspapers to save -become smarter about tracking people's viewing habits, they will get smarter about targeting them with political pitches, 10 percent off coupons on ski trips, Sunday subscription offers, and so on.

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Schenectady, NY: Is your ultimate goal to star in or write and direct your own films?

Brandon Hardesty: I think that maybe I'd like to direct someday. It'll be a while before I do that, probably. As for writing, I have a few things I've written that I want to work on when I get the chance/resources to do so.

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New Orleans, Louisiana: How would you describe your life at this moment in one word?

Brandon Hardesty: Unexpected.

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Davis, CA: I'm sure that outside of a few infantile imbeciles, most people who read about Brandon in places such as this paper clicked on a few of his posting out of simple curiosity never to return to it. These postings are as idiotic as they can get, and one can only wonder what The Washington Post is thinking in promoting such blatantly mindless blather. No wonder newspapers are going bankrupt.

April Witt: Ah, you are missing the point. One of the glories of YouTube is that anyone can watch whatever they want, whenever they want. If you don't care for Brandon's work, don't watch. If you don't care for The Post magazine's story on him, don't read it. Your options are vast, and your excuses for kvetching slim. Unless, of course, you just like to kvetch.

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Greenpoint, Brooklyn: Do you worry that you will be type-casted, or you will always be remembered as "that Youtube Guy" regardless of the roles you perform? In other words, how do you plan on distancing yourself from your Youtube career, and focusing on your film career while simultaneously attracting the fans who know you from your humble beginnings?

Brandon Hardesty: I don't worry that I'll be type-casted as "that YouTube guy." It feels to me like there is such a rift between the film world and the YouTube world, that people can disconnect and see me as an actor. If I worry about type-casting, I worry about it strictly in the acting world. Sometimes I worry about being type-cast as "the goofy fat kid" or something along those lines. Although, it's not something I dwell on. I just audition for as much as possible, and hope for the best.

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Leesburg, VA: Brandon, if you don't achieve the fame you seek, do you think you might have a mental breakdown like Susan Boyle?

Brandon Hardesty: Is she having a mental breakdown right now? I haven't kept up with that story too much, haha.

If I don't succeed as an actor, I'll just go back to college. There are plenty of plan B's. I would be crushed and disappointed, but nothing that would merit a mental breakdown.

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Norfolk, Va: Other than the new American Pie movie, can you reveal any other Hollywood films you are cast for in the future?

Brandon Hardesty: I have a small part in an upcoming film called "Born To Be A Star." It is written by Adam Sandler, Allen Covert, and comedian Nick Swardson.

I also have a supporting role in a film called "Kid Cannabis," which has been put on hold several times. Hopefully it gets made.

Other than that, I'm auditioning and hoping for the best.

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Gaithersburg, MD: I hate to nitpick, but your first sentence: "Brandon Hardesty sat so close to his video camera that only the top three-quarters of his enormous head was in the frame."

I think that should be "three-quarters of his enormous head were in the frame." Thanks.

April Witt: Oh, how I love the internet. I've heard of crowd sourcing. Now: crowd-source copy editing. Please feel free to write in if I've incorrectly punctuated that.

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Marietta, Georgia: If you were to direct your own movie would you get people from youtube to act in your movie or professionals?

Brandon Hardesty: I'd try and get people who were right for the part, I suppose. It's easier to work with professionals, but sometimes someone is just right for the part, despite them being professional or not.

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Washington, D.C.: So what's the ultimate goal that YouTube ministars can strive for?

Brandon Hardesty: Goals vary from person to person. There are a lot of people on YouTube who just want to be famous. There are others who want to share their creativity with the world. For a select few, the ones who are enrolled in the YouTube partner program, money is a big factor. Some people make their living off of YouTube just from the ad revenue. I wish I could say I do that.

I can tell you that my goals have changed over the three years I've been active on YouTube.

First, I just wanted someone other than my Mom and Dad to see my videos. I wanted criticism. After positive feedback, I thought that people might like them. When I found out people liked my videos and thousands of people were watching, I was terrified.

After that, my goal was to keep people interested and keep making videos. About a year or so into all of this, I realized that my whole YouTube channel makes a good acting resume, and I wanted to get into acting. From that moment on, my goal was to make as many videos as possible and build up a list of credits, in a way. I was using YouTube as a tool to get myself noticed.

Now that I have a manager, an agent, and I'm making a living off of acting, YouTube has become a fun hobby on the side. It's also a source of revenue in addition to my acting work, so it helps pay the bills.

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Boston, Mass.: Brandon, did your parents actually know when you started creating and posting these videos? My son was posting some homemade "mini-series" online with friends, and it was months before I found out. Fortunately, none of it was objectionable, but I wonder about parents keeping tabs on what their kids are putting out there.

Brandon Hardesty: My parents didn't know for the first couple of videos what I was doing. If you watch my first reenactment from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," you'll notice that I'm trying to be quiet when I yell so I don't wake my parents up.

Eventually, I showed them my videos because I wanted to some feedback, so, they knew what was going on by then.

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Casper; Copenhagen, Denmark: What was the first thought that ran through your mind, when you got your first movie role?

Brandon Hardesty: "HOLYCRAPIGOTAPARTINAMOVIETHISISAWESOMEIMSONERVOUS
WHATIFIDONTKNOWMYLINESOHMANIMIGHTMEETWILLIAMHMACY"

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Yourefun, NY: Love your videos! Especially Uncle Joe and the Joker.

What kind of preparation do you do? Do you just wing it and keep doing takes until you get it right? I personally wouldn‘t know when to stop doing takes because there is always room for improvement.

I really appreciate that even after all your new fame, you are still able to poke fun at yourself with your funny faces and noises. I think they are my favorite :)

Thanks!

Brandon Hardesty: Hey! Good question.

For preparation, I just put on whatever movie I'm about to reenact and try to get my lines right. I definitely do a lot of takes... I pretty much shoot the rehearsal. As a result, I usually waste the first half hour of tape, but it's a process.

As for knowing when to stop doing takes, I have to consciously stop myself, because like you said, there's always room for improvement.

Lastly, just a comment on the funny faces and noises, haha. In the long run, I hope people can see past those videos and see my reenactments, but I'm not bitter about the strange faces videos. They pretty much put me on the map. The good thing about the strange faces videos is that they opened up the possibility that more people might see the videos I put a lot more time into.

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Reston, VA: Hi Brandon,

I am endlessly impressed with your ability to be a one-person director, writer, actor, marketer and get consistent audiences that rival cable television shows.

It seems in the article that you were eager to monetize your success, but you felt some tension treating your YouTube activities as too much like a job. As a result, you appeared focused on getting most of your video revenue from television and film media.

Are you open to monetizing your online video success as well? Just for example, would you be open to deals where an upcoming film or television show paid you to shoot and distribute a re-enactment to help them market? Or if a soda company paid you to drink their product during an upcoming video? Or do you feel that taking payment for editorial content is breaking an implicit contract with your viewers?

Thanks in advance for your reply! Beau Brewer CEO, Zadby

Brandon Hardesty: Goooooood question.

This is all something I've struggled with every since I found my moderate success on YouTube. On one hand, I didn't want to just use my YouTube viewers to get money, doing product placements and things like that. On the other hand, I certainly wanted to find a way to finance my future career and give it a jump start, and all I had for revenue was a job at a grocery store.

That being said, I'm open to monetizing my online video success to a point. There have been several times where I've gotten offers to make a video, and I treated it like a job. I made a video with a Sanyo Xacti camera; that was a job that yielded some revenue, not to mention a free spare camera, which is something that definitely came in handy. I've also given permission to some TV networks to air my YouTube videos, and that's yielded some revenue too. Look at my "Strange Faces" video. I let Geico use that in a commercial for several months, and it helped me pay off a car!

So, in short, if an opportunity for some extra revenue comes along, and I feel like I won't be alienating my fans if I do it, then I'll take advantage of it. But for the most part, I want to entertain my fans and just have fun with my videos.

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Augusta, GA: I've watched your videos for over a year now and I have to say you're incredibly brilliant, particularly with how you can mimic voices. Would you consider being a voice actor?

Brandon Hardesty: I'd love to get into voice acting. It's tough, though. I get a voice-over audition every week, and I never get anything. Either the competition is fierce, or I'm just not that good, haha. I'd like to think that the latter isn't true.

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Greenfield, IN: Brandon, fame and success can be fleeting - what would you do if it was all suddenly gone? Would you go back to work at the supermarket or would you pursue your dreams? You're very funny, BTW.

April Witt: I know you asked this of Brandon, but he is busy trying to answer 10 questions at once right now. Let me make a prediction or two. Brandon is never going back to the grocery store. Brandon will handle whatever happens in life - be it wild success or something less - very well. He's grounded. He comes from such a sensible family that after he had his first movie role he went back to the grocery store to save money to move to Hollywood. A lot of other people might not have planned so methodically. And as for Brandon having a nervous breakdown in the unlikely event that things don't go his way professionally....He's the least likely candidate for a nervous breakdown that I've ever interviewed. And I've interviewed thousands of people in my decades in journalism.

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Norfolk, Va: I heard you have recently moved to Cali. Will the re-enactments still be rolling out, or are you going to take a break and work on more professional acting?

Brandon Hardesty: The reenactments will definitely roll out, despite what success I find in acting. Right now, I'm in the midst of finding a new place to film them, however. I can't be too loud in my apartment... the neighbors might complain if I try and pull off another Full Metal Jacket reenactment.

Also, I did a reenactment recently with Bug Hall, who played Alfalfa in "The Little Rascals." We reenacted a scene from that film, and he played Alfalfa again. He mentioned that I should try and do that with every film I act in: find someone who has had moderate success as an actor, and reenact a scene from a film that they've done. I think that's a fun little gimmick, to be honest, and I don't think I could resist doing that, depending on who I would do it with.

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Seaford, Delaware: Brandon if you had to chose between a film career of low-brow, shallow, mindless comedies that did great at the box office, but every movie felt the same to you, versus a career of several intellectual, challenging, unique independent films that received attention but not alot of money, what would you rather do?

Brandon Hardesty: I just want to work. If I worked as an actor, non-stop, I'd be happy. That being said, there are definitely some roles that have come along that I've wanted more than others, and most of them tend to be independently-made. However, I'm at a point where I'll take what I can get, because I need to support myself right now. Hence... American Pie. Haha.

If I got to a point where I didn't have to worry about money, I would choose roles that appealed to me. It wouldn't matter if they were roles in big-budget films or small independent ones. I would choose roles that meant something to me, and that would be a challenge so I could grow as an actor.

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Movie scenes:: Brandon, how do you choose which scene from a movie you will perform? And how do you get ready to perform it? Have you thought about doing a whole movie?

Brandon Hardesty: When I choose a scene, I choose one that I feel very passionately about. I also ask myself if it's something that I can have fun with.

A few times, I have outside factors. The "Fargo" reenactment was something I did for William H. Macy. I met him at the premiere of "Bart Got A Room" in New York, and I told him I was going to make one for him. There's also my "Pan's Labyrinth" reenactment. I wanted to do a foreign film, so I guess a big factor with that one was the novelty in doing a scene in a different language (I still want to do a scene from "Life is Beautiful").

To prepare for a scene, like I've said before, I just rehearse the lines a lot and get into character. I also find my costumes and props that I'm going to use, and I figure out how I'm going to shoot it by sort of studying the room.

I've definitely thought about doing a whole movie before. For a while, I've wanted to reenact "Back To The Future" in its entirety. There are a few factors that hold me back. It would take a long time to do. Not to mention, I have kind of a mediocre Michael J. Fox impersonation.

Someday, though. Someday.

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Hampden: Being from Baltimore, has John Waters gotten in touch with you?

Brandon Hardesty: Hah, no. Haven't heard from him. I'd love to work with him, though.

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Fort Worth, Texas: How far do you wish to take acting? Are the big budget films your aim or do you wish to ultimately be a movie director?

Brandon Hardesty: My goal is to just be able to support myself with an acting career. I've had thoughts of directing, but if it's a possibility, it's far off from now.

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Fairfax, Va.: Hi Brandon and April -- this is Fairfax again coming back to the question about social networks online. A couple of thoughts/questions: April, I come from a long line of journalists (but am myself in e-marketing/communications), and part of my interest in the article is about the trends for people to "connect" online, including connecting with local and world news. It does seem that news has had a harder and harder time reaching the public without reaching a breaking point -- tv, internet, radio have all made it possible for people to learn what's happening without really paying much for it (if anything). But if news organizations started charging what it's actually costing, could many people be put at hardship to gain access to the news (those with limited means)? It seems there's a difficult balance between compensating the hardworking journalists and serving the public good. And the organizations that do seem to make a profit on it seem to do so at the cost of good journalism. And Brandon, what is your take on the ways people are connecting online? Do you sometimes feel that the connections you make with your fans are limited or superficial? Do you think the internet is improving our social connections? Do you have words of advice to others venturing into either trying to achieve recognition online versus those trying to reach out to a like-minded community?

April Witt: I'll weigh in on my part of this because poor Brandon is, at this moment, typing like a banshee. You are making excellent points about people's changing relationship with news, the challenges of creating good journalism and figuring out who pays for it in this new era. Some people have proposed that some fine news organizations become non-profits supported by charitable foundations. Obviously no one, including The Washington Post, has figured out the economics of the new situation. Brandon, please feel free to weigh in on the rest of those questions when you get time.

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Liverpool, U.K: Do you enjoy being a known person and Do you get stopped by people in the street?

Brandon Hardesty: I'm overjoyed when people recognize me. It's just fun running into someone who has seen my videos, because it's actually a rare occurrence. I'd say once a month someone might recognize me.

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Rockville: Brandon: Who is your agent? Where are you living (generally, not specifically) in the L.A. area--what neighborhood? And do you have projects lined up for later this year and in 2010? Congrats regarding your most recent success.

Brandon Hardesty: My agent is Stephanie Ritz; she works for Endeavor. I'm living in "the valley" right now. As for future projects, I answered that already (sorry, someone beat you to it, haha). And thank you for the kind words.

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Cap Hill: There sure were a lot of reference's to his mom. What role did/does she play in this acting adventure?

Brandon Hardesty: My Mom (and my Dad) were both very supportive of me from the start. They both told me to keep making videos, because something good will come of it. They were both certainly sources of support.

Also, my Mom, in particular, as helped me a couple of times when I've needed another set of hands. There are a few videos (outside of my reenactments) where she became my camera-man.

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Flushing, New York: Would you like to one day get into dramatic acting, or is comedy where you find your most enjoyment?

Brandon Hardesty: Comedy and drama both appeal to me. I love comedy, but I just might love drama even more. Some days, it's one or the other. I audition for whatever I can, though.

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Norfolk, Va: Who is your favorite actor and movie?

Brandon Hardesty: I can't give you a favorite actor; I have several. They include Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, William H. Macy, Ricky Gervais (he has some terrific moments in the British version of "The Office. I think people underestimate him.)... a lot of actors, really.

My favorite movie is, hands down, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

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Gnaw Bone, IN: Brandon, my girl friend of two years left me for a guy who also posted videos on YouTube. He sort of looks like you. I think it is you. Is my girlfriend living with you in California, punk? I'm coming out there, man! Vanessa! Baby's coming to get you, Vanessa......! You better run and hide, buster!

Brandon Hardesty: Oh snap!

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Requests:: So where do we send our lists of requests for reenactments? Sooooo many scenes I want to see Brandon-ified.

Brandon Hardesty: You can leave a message in my "Message Center" on my website: www.brandonhardesty.com. I have a lot of requests so far, haha.

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Augusta, GA: I've been watching your videos for over a year now and went through your entire collection. I have to say you're incredibly brilliant, especially with your voice acting. Do you think maybe you'd be better suited with being a voice actor?

Brandon Hardesty: I already answered this, but I just want to mention how flattered I am that you've watched EVERY one of my videos. And some of them aren't even that good! Kudos.

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D.C.: so fun to see your reenactments after reading the cover story. Will have to check out Bart Got a A Room.

Good luck in your career!

Brandon Hardesty: Thanks!

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Greensboro, PA: Brandon, can you tell us a little more about your role in American Pie? Any other offers coming in?

Brandon Hardesty: My role in American Pie... my character's name is "Lube," and I'm pretty much an overactive, energetic, horny teenager. It was a fun, easy role to play. I had a blast doing it.

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Lithia Springs, GA: Brandon, there are many aspiring youtubers out there that do not know how to get their name out. Did you promote yourself, if you did how did you do it?

Brandon Hardesty: I didn't promote myself very much. I sort of let my videos speak for themselves. I think it also helped that I started uploading videos right when YouTube was getting big and growing exponentially. I feel like I sort of grew with it, if that makes sense.

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Worth It?: So, is it worth TRYING to become a youtube phenomenon? (or internet "sensation" in general?) It seems that trying is a turnoff to the online community, that it has to just happen randomly. I mean, what does Rick Astley think about Rickrolling? Not like he went out looking for that. And not that there are really any residual benefits other than reentering the zeitgeist ...

April Witt: As you obviously have figured out, the on-line community, especially twenty-somethings, have their own beliefs, attitudes and values -- just like any other tribe. Yes, trying to go viral is a big turnoff in some (cool, too cool?) quarters.

But all sorts of people are trying to figure out how to go viral without looking like they are breaking a sweat. There was a very funny, and off-color Saturday Night Live skit parodying the sleazy, false romance of bad pop music. I can't publish the name of the skit here, but it was something like "My (deleted) in a box." Some hipsters at an ad agency did an equally funny and off color response. They carefully engineered how they promoted their video response, and it, too, went viral. The creators were later quite open and honest about how they had engineered virality - probably because they wanted businesses to hire them to do the same in promoting their products. You think?

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Oley, PA: In addition to your videos, I love your music - do you write and compose your own? I especially love BOIOIOIOIOIOIOIOIOIOIOI!

Brandon Hardesty: Thank you! I make all the music myself using a program called "Garageband" on my Mac. After making six songs using the program, I've found that I like making music too. Every once in a while, I play around with it. My Dad's a musician, so maybe a small part of that leaked over. I used to play the piano all the time, and there was a period in my life when I was convinced I was going to Juliard to become an accomplished pianist. Now I get to play make-believe for a living. Funny how things change.

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Towson, MD: Brandon, your junior year religion teacher here. When can we expect Bart Got a Room in Baltimore? Oh, and Lark feels badly that that the last time we saw you, I was frustrated with Noah, can you forgive me?

Brandon Hardesty: Hey Mr. G!

Here's the status on Bart Got A Room: it's already had its run in theaters (it had a limited release in NY, LA, FL, and BC). It's coming out on DVD July 28th at Walmart, Best Buy, Borders, Target, Amazon.com, and Netflix. If you want to watch it, you'll have to wait until then.

Also, I forgive you, haha. Don't worry about it.

Hopefully I'll see you when I come back and visit!

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Greenbelt, MD: Brandon, the article mentions that you have a stutter when nervous. Was this a problem when shooting American Pie?

Brandon Hardesty: Not at all. It's only a slight stutter. I've been told that I think faster than I can get my words out, sometimes.

But no, I got over any nervousness when the cameras were rolling. Plus, the vibe on the set was really fun and laid-back.

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Bellville, NJ: The poster from Davis, CA was a little out-of-line, especially since she sought out this chat and could only complain! The beauty of the Internet is the success stories like Brandon's, even if it only succeeds in 15 minutes of fame.

Brandon, who are some of your influences?

Brandon Hardesty: Influences... a lot of actors and directors. I really love Paul Thomas Anderson as a director (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood). As actors, I've gone down the list before, but mostly Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy... etc.

Jim Carrey I love because I grew up watching his comedies. Then, when he made this transition to some dramatic work, it made me respect him even more.

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April Witt: Brandon, thanks so much for joining us today. You have been, as usual, humble and a pleasure. Thanks, too, to everyone who took the time to send questions and participate in this conversation. Maybe some reader will put a link to this chat on www.SomethingAwful.com and it will go viral. Then again, maybe not.

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Brandon Hardesty: Thanks for all the questions everyone! This was fun. Hopefully I'll see you guys on the big screen!

- Brandon

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