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David Foster Wallace’s This is Water Turns Viral Video

The L.A.-based production house The Glossary created this homage to writer David Foster Wallace, condensing and illustrating his celebrated Kenyon College commencement speech into nine or so minutes — and scoring over two million YouTube views in the process. Comprised of director Matthew Freidell and producers Allison Freidell and Jeremy Dunning, producer, The Glossary self-funded this video without obtaining rights to Wallace’s audio. In an interview with Ad Week, the trio describe the video as “a passion project” and say that “sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” And while the video was prompted by Matthew’s love of Wallace’s speech, it has had unexpected benefits. From Ad Week:

Ad Week: Prior to this video, your YouTube clips tended to top out around 1,500 views or so, with one or two exceptions. What’s the impact been like for your business, having one of your creations go so viral so fast?

The Glossary: It’s a little too early to tell, but as a tiny company in an industry filled with so much talent and competition, it’s extremely difficult to get your work noticed. We feel like we’ve done that with this video and we’re over the moon with the response. But we’re always looking for what’s next, so we’d welcome anyone who enjoyed “This Is Water” to get in touch with us.

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