July 31, 2015
When Vine, the social media app for sharing six-second videos, launched in 2012 it immediately attracted creative minds who love to experiment. Filmmaker Peter Heacock was one those minds willing to ply his craft in a new format.
Heacock found community and built relationships within this micro-filmmaking world, eventually merging his love of the app with his career. After creating commercials and Vines for international brands, he founded Fishtown-based mobile marketing agency Unpopular Now to mix social media with traditional advertising. Now he and his team collaborate with Vine stars to create shareable videos for Best Buy, Target, Covergirl, Procter & Gamble and more.
Here he discusses how it all came to be and where he's headed next.
What attracted you to Vine in the first place?
I had a three month old son and I didn’t have a lot of time and I wanted to make something. It was short, it was fast and I always had a phone in my pocket. I had a young son that had no choice in the matter, so it was easy sort of to have this interaction with somebody else and I was always around him so he was just, by default, my foil or the straight man or whatever.
Then I started seeing people do a little bit more artistic stuff, so I’d do just stuff on the way to work. I was working in Old City at the time, so I did a lot of stuff on the El train, walking, started animating myself walking throughout the city. Then I got into turning the camera on myself. In the beginning of these trends or this new app everybody wants to know everybody else. It's this blank canvas open space so... I just found people that I really liked and through that we sort of came up with a collective to support other people.
How’d this Viner collective become Unpopular Now as an agency?
Somebody from Twitter contacted us. We had a Facebook page where some of us would just chat and support one another, get to know one another. Out of that came Unpopular Now. Then somebody started another Facebook page and then Twitter IM'ed us one day and was like, who are you guys? Do you have time to chat? And we said sure, who are you? You’re from Twitter? Yeah I'll make time.
Right around this time people were starting to make a lot more commercials [on Vine]. You definitely started to see people make money from it. I had been approached by a local company, Red Tettemer, to make vines for Tub Gin. It’s still some of my favorite stuff that I’ve done, the early stuff. Then Twitter was just like, let’s get to know you, we’ll chat every week or two to hear your thoughts. You seem to really know the app and we like what you’re doing and would you ever be interested in doing some brand work? They basically gave us our first really big client.
How has Vine changed since you starting using it?
In the beginning Vine was 'What can you do with nothing, just push to record?' So the style came out of the limitations and that was one of the more interesting things about it. You could look at some old Vines and think "Oh, that’s ok." But then if you understood how they were made, it added this whole profound aspect of it where work was very much rewarded, style was very much rewarded. I think the popularity of it, the explosion of that, has trended just a lot younger. So the appreciation of craft is just not there as much. I think some people have shied away from it.
Who are your favorite Viners?
I’m a big fan of Simply Sylvio. He’s definitely my best bud from the app. When we first were starting he was from the Brandywine area, so we hung out a few times and collaborated. He’s my closest friend from it and I think his stuff is hilarious, always really well done. I think Avery Monsen is great, I just dig his sense of humor.
I’m definitely more into the observational humor. A lot of those guys are more writers, they’re clearly writers or comedians as opposed to just wanting to be actors. I definitely think there are some big dudes that are great. I think Rudy Mancuso is super talented, or somebody like Matt Post.
What's next for you and Unpopular Now?
Our next goal is to create a day of the week that celebrates creativity. [Like a Throwback Thursday.] So if you’re working on a project, what do you do, what do you make? Everybody will share on one day and that’s the celebration of creativity. That’s our next big push.
I'll also be speaking at the next Creative Mornings series Friday, July 31.