UPDATE: One of the “customers” who appeared in the video contacted TheBlaze. Read her explanation of what happened on the shoot below.
An elaborate video to promote the upcoming release of the remake of the classic horror film “Carrie” has become a viral sensation, generating more than 3 million hits on YouTube since it was uploaded Monday.
The production employed a stuntman on a wire, spring-loaded books and motorized tables to make it appear as if a woman in the coffee shop was using supernatural powers that would scare the daylights out of you and me. Hidden cameras captured the event and reactions from several angles.
The video’s producers say the reactions shown in the clip came from unsuspecting customers. The full statement from the YouTube post states, “What if telekinesis was real? How would you react? Our hidden camera experiment captures the reactions of unsuspecting customers at a New York City coffee shop as they witness a telekinetic event.”
But after some review, many on TheBlaze staff think that everyone in the video could be in on the prank. What makes us suspect this is more like a scripted and well-cast mini-movie? That would be common sense and lots of NYC experience in coffee shops.
To support this opinion, we present the following:
First, a bicycle rider was allowed to bring his bike into the coffee shop.
Why was this “construction worker” carrying a big metal pole inside the shop?
Also, virtually everyone in the shop is attractive. If you’ve spent any time in NYC — and especially in the hipster coffee shops on the west side — you know that this is not the case.
TheBlaze contacted ‘SNICE, the coffee shop used for the video. We spoke with Nora Petroliunas, a manager who also happened to be in the coffee shop during the filming of the event. Petroliunas addressed our questions about the alleged customers in the video. She believes that they all were actual customers and not paid performers. When we asked about the bicycle in the shop, she said, “We allow bikes in the shop…there’s a bike store next door too.”
We pressed her on the construction worker who appears to have come straight out of “central casting” — complete with a big metal pole. Again, she had an answer, “Have you seen how much construction is going on in NYC?” That seemed like a bit of a deflection.
The entire production took three days to complete: a day and a half to set up, and a day and half to shoot. When the crew left the coffee shop, all evidence of their trickery was removed and the place was completely cleaned up.
TheBlaze also reached out to the people who produced the video, Think Modo. One of the two creative brains behind the viral marketing company, James Percelay spoke with us about the project. When we asked about the honesty of the customer reactions in the video, Think Modo’s co-founder was quite clear. The people’s reactions were quite real, and “they had no idea of what they were seeing.”
We also wondered if anyone in the customer classification had been paid to appear in the clips and Percelay remarked that they did have to “secure their releases” to show them in the video. Pressed further on our concern about why a construction worker would carry a large metal pole into a coffee shop, James laughed and said, “I don’t know.”
Percelay also stressed that all of the reactions came from people near the counter, a good distance from where the telekinetic “magic” was happening. He told us that people’s reactions in crazy situations like this are typically “subdued, nobody climbed on the coffee bar and started yelling.” At one point in our conversation, Percelay compared the project to reality TV. It would be fair to note that participants in reality television shows are aware that they will be on camera. They may not know what is going to happen next, but they do know cameras are present.
The short promo video is a well-crafted and successful bit of web marketing. If you have not yet seen it, the entire production is posted below. (And after you watch it, we encourage you to participate in our poll on the subject.)
All of the images from the video were screen grabs pulled from CarrieNYC on YouTube.
See more of the video magic from Think Modo here.
If you like the idea of seeing a movie that might scare the pants off you, the new Carrie opens on October 18. Just seeing the poster scared me.
UPDATE: Early Wednesday morning, TheBlaze was contacted by Sofia Samrad, an actress/news reporter who appeared in the telekinesis video as one of the “customers.” After reading our story, she offered more clarity on the project – from the perspective of an insider. From her Facebook post;
They booked me to order coffee for a promo for Carrie so I roll in looking a mess expecting to get hair and makeup then order coffee and leave and they just straight say scene as I arrive and that happened. so scary.
Samrad further clarified how she was booked for the gig, saying that a friend who works with Think Modo helped make the connection. This information appears to confirm our initial suspicions – the “customers” were performers. However, Sofia’s story bears out Think Modo’s contention that the reactions were genuine.
Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter — @stuntbrain