Behind the scenes of the NPR video

The writer of the viral NPR video reveals the darkest secrets of public radio.


The company that created the viral video for NPR… this one….

NPR tries to understand internet video memes from Small Mammal on Vimeo.

.. is revealing the darkest secrets about the too-serious-for-our-own-good world of National Public Radio.

NPR Google Partnership outtake from Small Mammal on Vimeo.

That’s an outtake with NPR’s social media guru, Andy Carvin, revealing the secret that public radio people — we’re told — are funny.

Some elements of today’s blog post by filmmaker John Pavlus, however, are completely “public radio:” lots of meetings, lots of people, lots of angst:


I can’t believe I’m saying this — I once purposely pulled the plug on a successful web series I’d created just because I couldn’t deal with the outside meddling — but I guess there’s an exception to everything. Over the two months I spent zeroing in on the concept and final script, NPR looped in people from their communications department, multimedia editorial, creative services, and even the producers of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me just for good measure. We had a half dozen conference calls and twice as many email threads, dissecting three or four different concepts and scripts. And then when we finally presented to Vivian Schiller, the CEO, we went back to the drawing board a couple MORE times. I shot much more than we ever intended to use, and edited a dozen different versions — hell, I even DELIVERED four different final copies, just in case someone on their end had a change of heart about something.

Ordinarily a process like this would make me want to put a .45 in my mouth. But this time, I’d give the committee-ing a lot of credit toward making the final product as successful as it was. Why? Because I’m no comedian. I know what makes ME laugh, but if it doesn’t play to the room, then it’s pretty much worthless. And the only way to find out what plays is to have people weigh in on it, all throughout the process. (Hey, it works for Judd Apatow.) They knew when to trust the majority opinion and when to throw it out and trust the instincts of one or two individuals; quite a fine line to walk successfully, but they managed it.

  • http://www.johnpavlus.com John Pavlus

    Thanks for the link, Bob! But the point I was trying to make that for once in my life, all those meetings were NOT angsty… in fact they made the video better.

  • Bob Collins

    Right, I got that. My point was to compare what you found to a typical day in the life of a public radio outfit which includes lots of angst-filled meetings and projects.