April 2, 2013

SCA Family Stories: Talia Myers

Student Discusses her YouTube Video Going Viral

By Valerie Turpin

Each year, SCA students make countless projects including shorts, music videos, video games, segments, immersive and mobile experiences, TV pilots and even feature films. Making sure these projects are seen, however, can be a whole different ball game. For SCA student Talia Myers ’15, who recently had a surge of media attention after her YouTube video became a viral hit, the battle of getting one’s name out there just got a whole lot easier.

Myers recently sat down with SCA to discuss her viral YouTube video, “Kate Upton, Will You Go To Prom With Me?,”  how her short time at SCA helped her make this project and her advice for students looking to get their work seen.

Let’s start off with your name, prospective degree and graduation year.  My name is Talia Myers, I’m graduating in May 2015. I’m a sophomore in Critical Studies.

Tell me a little bit about your project; what made you want to make this video?          Jake Davidson, the kid in the video who asks Kate Upton to prom, is one of my best friend’s brothers and we’re very good family friends. He knew that I go to USC’s film school and asked if I’d do it for him. We spoke about it one Friday, shot on Saturday and it was up by Sunday, and she [Kate Upton] had responded by Tuesday.

Talia Myers '15

How serious was this video?  I mean, as serious as something like that could be—Jake never expected for her to actually go to prom with him. It was really just enough that Kate Upton replied at all!

Were you expecting it to become as popular as it has been?  Nooo. We were hoping for maybe 10,000 views at the most with maybe TMZ or Perez Hilton, but nothing like Huffington Post or Entertainment Weekly. But I also know Jake, and when he says he’s going to do something, he’s the type of person who will. So I knew if I held my end of the bargain with a good video, he’d be able to spread it around.

How involved were you on the project? Jake wrote something and I helped him get it a lot shorter, I came up with the concept of the little tasks he’d be doing, and I did the directing, cinematography and editing.

You mentioned you’re in Critical Studies, but 290 [CTPR-290: Cinematic Communication] is the production class you’ll be taking later on at SCA. Where did your background in film/filmmaking come from?   Well, it all started when I went on a semester abroad in tenth grade to Israel for four months. I brought a nice camera with me and was just exploring and ended up taking 11,000 pictures [laughs], so I was nominated to make the end-of-semester slideshow at the end of the trip. That was the first thing I did that was film-related even though it was only a slideshow, but it kind of sparked my interest. Later, I would also make videos for my volleyball team, my basketball team, pep rallies, and I was getting positive feedback from that.

I didn’t get into SCA straight after high school so I went to community college for a year, and even though I had a job and was taking a full course load, I decided to challenge myself and just made a feature. I wrote it, there were about twenty actors, ten locations, and I just wanted to experiment. That’s what really helped me realize my passion for film.

Will you be applying to get into the Production program then?  Yes, for the Fall. I joined Critical Studies because I wanted to be in the film school in any way possible and couldn’t apply for the Production Division as a sophomore, but I definitely want to be behind the camera, writing stories, directing, even producing as well. I just love putting everything together.

Even though I haven’t been in Production yet, I’ve worked on several student projects here and have been able to do so much already without being in Production.

Myers and Davidson on NBC TODAY

Tell me a little more about your feature.  It’s about a senior in high school who wants to go to Juilliard, so she needs to write a song for her application. She goes to this place in nature to write, and her second day there, she realizes that it’s a common suicide spot. So she goes back every day to save people from committing suicide; meanwhile she’s ignoring her own priorities and changes her lifestyle. It’s pretty emotionally intense, which is why I’m happy my comedy with this YouTube video has gotten some attention too. Kind of the opposite feel [laughs].

Going back to your YouTube video, how have you used this media attention to get your name out there?  It’s been pretty crazy, because after all of the articles came out, Jake and I were contacted to do interviews, and Jake’s been so great about always mentioning my name in every single interview and that I go to USC. I saw my name in the LA Times, which was really cool, and we were on the front page of the Daily News and I was interviewed for that, which was very exciting.

Was there a favorite interview you did?  I’d say my favorite was with Ryan Seacrest—I just love Ryan and listen to him in the morning, and when Jake said hello, Ryan answered, “5’9’’ on a good day” to quote the video, which was just really cool to think that he watched it and could actually quote it.

Do you have any advice for students who are looking for that type of publicity, or do you feel like it was something of a spark of luck that it was picked up in such a major way?  I would tell people to just not say no to any opportunity, because you never know where that opportunity might lead. When Jake first told me about this, I didn’t think it would go viral. I thought maybe a few people would see it and could have easily said no, but I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity presented. We also made sure we were available for interviews when there were opportunities to be publicized. It was really an honor to be on every one of those stations.

How was your time at SCA been beneficial to your journey as a filmmaker?  Well definitely something about being a student here is that, just by AD-ing or PA-ing on 290s and 310s, that’s really what taught me everything. I used that knowledge and really took it to this video, because I didn’t know about white balance or composition or things like that, and I really learned that from other students here because I’d never taken a film class before. Just by being on set with other students has already helped me so much.

Do you have any other projects in the works now?  Yeah, actually; Jake and my brother (who was the butler in the video) are both really, really knowledgeable about sports and are really funny, so we’re thinking about doing a little talk show about that because there’s nothing really like that with students. There are also a lot of short films that a few of us are planning for the summer, and I’m really hoping to take advantage of my YouTube channel after this video!