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Filmmaker Casey Neistat Uses Fox Promo Money for Philippines Typhoon Relief

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Marisa Kabas

By Marisa Kabas on December 17, 2013

When it comes to Hollywood blockbusters, budgets are big and egos are even bigger. That’s why it’s refreshing to hear studios parting with precious pennies and making an actual contribution to society, even in the name of promotion.

The Fox marketing team working on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — a film about a man with heroic and dramatic daydreams — sent out an email to people in the the industry asking them to participate in a new promotion. American filmmaker Casey Neistat was one such recipient, and according to his latest video, here’s what they said:

“Dear Casey, Fox is releasing a new movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. We want to run a campaign under the concept, ‘Live Your Dreams.’ The collective theme behind this initiative is to motivate, inspire and give people a catalyst to do something they’ve never done. We’d like to know if you’d be interested in creating a video about living your dreams.”

You might recognize Neistat from a few different things: He’s the guy who made a short satirical documentary about riding in bike lanes back in 2011 after he got a ticket … for not riding in a bike lane. He’s also the guy whose tap dancing grandmother tapped right up until her death at 92. And last year after the NYC Marathon was canceled in the wake of Sandy, he took $500 he made off licensing storm footage and purchased food and clothing to bring to storm-ravaged Staten Island (and made a vid about it, of course.)

In that same philanthropic spirit, he replied to Fox. “Here’s my concept. Give me a budget, I’ll go to the Philippines and spend every penny helping people in need.”

Three days later his dream was their command. Neistat and his friend Oscar Boyson hopped on a plane to the country recently torn apart by a deadly typhoon, and using Fox’s money they were able to deliver over 10,000 meals, tools for 35 villages and basic medicine to local organizations, with help from native residents and tips from Twitter followers.

The YouTube video he created about the experience, which he called “what would you do with $25,000?,” shows the immense devastation from the storm. But all in all, the spirit is hopeful.

It’s exciting to see what happens when people with access to big resources use them for big things. Good on you, Casey.

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