By Michael Varrati
While there is little doubt the residents of Tokyo are breathing a little easier these days, I’m afraid the same cannot be said for the good folks at YouTube Space LA. In anticipation of his latest movie outing, Japan’s most infamous aggressor has relocated and taken up residency at the digital hub, intent on stomping a path through his last unconquered territory: The world of online video.
That’s right, the legendary King of Monsters, Godzilla (née Gojira), has come home to YouTube, and luckily, yours truly was there to witness his atomic terror go digital.
In anticipation of the horror icon’s newest film incarnation, YouTube Space LA has partnered with Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures to curate an epic, week-long “Godzilla Invades YouTube” event, encouraging content creators to go head-to-head with the monster. Actual sets, props, and costumes from the new film were brought in by Legendary, marking the first time a film studio has recreated a set within the confines of the Space. Once installed, creators were invited to write, shoot, and edit videos inspired by the new film and Godzilla’s incredible legacy. The initiative, offered by YouTube Next Lab, ran from April 16-May 8, 2014, and saw some of the digital world’s most prolific talent try their hand at putting the beast from the Far East in his place.
As a known celebrator of genre cinema and lover of all things monstrous, when I was offered the chance to come face-to-face with the mighty lizard on the event’s final day, I simply couldn’t say no. Luckily, I avoided getting stomped into the pavement, and ended up having an experience that was less about fear and all about fun.
Upon my arrival, I was suited up and taken to the MUTO command center set, where I engaged in a small photo shoot of myself monitoring the progress of Godzilla’s path of destruction. It was a rather serious affair, during which I made a lot of references to Blue Oyster Cult’s musical ode to Godzilla, and pontificated about the time the notable beast won an MTV Movie Lifetime Achievement Award. Basically, all the stuff you usually talk about in the midst of a global crisis.
Shortly after my brief stint in the anti-Kaiju branch of the armed forces, the set was invaded by the team from Nerdist, who was there to shoot their contribution to the video project. I got a front row seat as Nerdist and comedian Steve Agee (“The Sarah Silverman Program”) filmed the final scenes that would be shot on the set before its departure from the Space, and was also treated to the arrival of the legendary monster himself in the scaly flesh.
With buildings smashed and chaos served, it was a remarkable sight to behold for this longtime nerd. However, I’m not one for spoilers, so you’ll have to wait for May 15, when Nerdist’s video is set to drop, to see what shenanigans Steve and Godzilla were causing.
However, if your appetite for destruction is as large as my new behemoth buddy, you won’t have to wait that long to get a heaping helping of horrifying hijinks. As aforementioned, the event, kicking off today, May 12, features a plethora of talent that are rolling out videos all week long, leading into “Godzilla”’s opening in theaters at the end of the week. In addition to my monster-fighting friends at Nerdist, the likes of Hannah Hart, Sawyer Hartman, Michelle Phan, “YouTube Nation,” and many, many more have videos being unleashed as part of the event, and each are bringing their own unique style to Godzilla’s enduring legacy.
A teaser for Sawyer Hartman’s film as part of the week.
Since his introduction by Toho Pictures in 1954, Godzilla has had a career spanning over 28 films, several animated incarnations, books, comics, video games, and much more. The creature’s image is an unmistakable reference point in the zeitgeist, and remains one of the most enduring modern movie creations in history. By partnering with Legendary and Warner Bros, YouTube Space LA has allowed Godzilla to now expand his reign into the digital world, further cementing the monster’s cultural importance and bringing him into the spotlight of a new generation.
While cross promotion of traditional media in the digital space has been done before, there has never really been an event of this magnitude. Furthermore, “Godzilla Invades YouTube” has been more than mere film promotion. By engaging the digital space’s creative content base, it’s allowed the character to spin-off in new directions audiences may have never thought possible. As such, this marks a significant moment in Godzilla’s legacy, as well as one in YouTube history.
While my involvement in this week’s festivities was microscopic compared to the amazing work of the artists and content creators contributing, for this writer and fan, it was a dream come true. To participate in Godzilla’s first major outing in the digital space and to get to bear witness to some of the remarkable creative content that is coming out of that endeavor is an event that not only merits a cheer, but also a mighty and monstrous roar.
“Godzilla Invades YouTube” Week officially kicks off on May 12th, 2014, and the Legendary Pictures release of “Godzilla” hits theaters May 16.