- Kickstarter campaign launches to make a sequel to viral hit "Take This Lollipop"
- The interactive viral video was viewed more than 100 million times
- Director, actor say success, Emmy award were big surprises
- Jason Zada promises sequel will go "a step further"
For actor Bill Oberst Jr., it was an unpaid gig starring in a Web-only video that's just two minutes long.
An Emmy and a Webby Award later, he says "Take This Lollipop" is the best job he's ever taken.
"It changed my career," Oberst said. "I'm doing feature after feature. I'm doing four in a row right now, and that's all because of the reaction to 'Lollipop'."
The personalized, interactive video took the Web by storm last Halloween. In it, Oberst plays a disturbed-looking stalker who paws through Facebook photos and other information the viewer provides before jumping in a car and driving in a twisted rage toward the address that the user has posted right there on the Internet for anyone to see.
As of Wednesday, the video had been "liked" on Facebook more than 13.9 million times. Director Jason Zada says it's been watched more than 100 million times total, and its 10 million likes in less than a month made it the fastest-spreading app in Facebook's history, according to Mashable.
And now? Like any good horror outing, it's getting a sequel.
Zada hopes to launch "Take This Lollipop 2" by Halloween. He's started a Kickstarter campaign, hoping that some of the millions of people he freaked out last year will help him do it again.
"The people were such a huge part of making the first one so successful -- there was really nothing else that made it successful other than people talking about it and people writing about it," he said.
"Thirteen million peopled 'liked' the original one. If we just got 150,000 of those people to give a dollar to say they liked the first one and want to see a second one ... it's such an interesting concept to see that's all it takes."
"Lollipop" clearly touched a nerve. In it, Zada (whose viral-video pedigree began with 2006's interactive "Elf Yourself") merged Oberst's disturbing screen persona with the public's mounting concerns about Facebook security and online privacy in general.
It would go on to shock even its creators by winning a Daytime Emmy Award for "New Approaches" as well as a pair of Webby Awards.
"You always have that thing in your mind where you hope what you're doing is going to be successful, but I never had any clue it would be this successful," Zada said. "Winning the Daytime Emmy was probably the most remote thing I could have put into my head."
Oberst says he sees the video's wide reach in his daily life.
"Particularly if I'm wearing a wife-beater (T-shirt), which is frequent in L.A. because it's hot," he said. "I've actually had kids say, 'Mom, that's the guy who stalked me on Facebook!' The kids think it's funny. The adults are freaked out by it."
Oberst is already a bit of a B-movie regular, with appearances ranging from HBO's "True Blood" to the provocatively titled "Nude Nuns With Big Guns." But he credits the video with helping him emerge as something of a cult favorite. ("I'm killing a guy in a bathtub today," he says by phone during a break in shooting an upcoming feature).
"It became worldwide," he said. "I went from just trying to work to someone who was described, whether accurately or not, as an emerging horror icon on sites in Romania and Russia. I owe Jason and his team a great debt because, basically that's a two-minute reel for what I do on film."
Zada is being understandably tight-lipped about details of the sequel.
"Part of what made the first one really successful was the idea that your friend told you to do this, but really didn't give you too much information," he said. "A lot of the word of mouth was, 'Oh my god, this is the scariest thing I've ever seen,' but a lot of people didn't really tell people what happens before they saw it."
He promises it will again be interactive and be "bigger" than the original.
"We want to take it a step further," Zada said. "We think there's an interesting story we're developing that, if you spoiled some of the details, would spoil some of the experience."
He won't even officially confirm whether Oberst will be back, although he quickly acknowledges that he "couldn't imagine him not being a part of it."
And Kickstarter supporters can be part of the action. Donor levels range from $1 to $10 (which gets you the iconic blue lollipop featured on the original video, sans razor blade) all the way up to a whopping $10,000, at which point the campaign ominously promises "an extended film experience that begins to infiltrate your real life."
For a more meager $2,500, you can have a photograph of yourself included in the film.
"We wanted to come up with some inventive ways of letting people be a part of it," Zada said. "If, for whatever reason, it ends up being seen by as many people as the first one, you can be part of it."