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What would you do if someone offered you $25,000 to live your dream? This was the question posed to filmmaker Casey Neistat by 20th Century Fox, while the studio was seeking an inventive new way to promote The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Directed by Ben Stiller, the film is about an average man leaving his routine behind to seek out adventure and live his dreams. Neistat could have said he wanted to climb the Alps, or swim with sharks, or be BatKid for a day. But instead, he told Fox he wanted the entirety of their budget for this promotion to bring aid to the people of the Philippines. Prepare yourself for a good cry and check out the resulting video below:
On November 7th, 2013, the most powerful typhoon ever recorded hit the Philippines, causing massive devastation. Like many whose hearts went out to the victims of this horrendous natural disaster, Neistat had donated money to disaster relief, but with $25,000, he believed he could do so much more. So when Fox approached him about making a promotional short film about "living his dream," Neistat knew exactly what he'd do.
The e-mail from Fox read, "Dear Casey, Fox is releasing a new movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. We want to run a campaign under the concept, 'Live Your Dreams.' The collective theme behind this initiative is to motivate, inspire and give people a catalyst to do something they've never done. We'd like to know if you'd be interested in creating a video about living your dreams." In a statement below the resulting video's Youtube post, he writes:
"if i could do anything in the world right now what would it be? that's to help the victims of the typhoon. i, someone crassly, replied to 20th Century Fox that the only movie i wanted to make is one where i give away the budget to those in need. i still don't understand how or why but they agreed. i jumped on a plane with my best friend and fellow adventurer Oscar and we flew to Manila."
In a rush to get to the Philippines and bring what relief this budget could allow, Neistat left little time (three short days) to formulate a plan. Joining efforts with a pre-existing non-profit proved complicated, so instead he planned his own relief effort. THR reports he and Oscar Boyson went to a well-established town called Cebu, and bought a massive haul of supplies, including food and medicine. It was so much stuff that it wouldn't fit on trucks, so with the help of two passenger buses, Neistat and Boyson brought all this aid to the shattered coastal city of Tacloban, after a 6 ½ hour drive. There they handed out tools for 35 villages, food for 10,000 meals, and medicine to local organizations.
Along the way, Neistat filmed the debris the typhoon created, as well as the resilient spirit of the people of the Philippines.
If you want to contribute to the relief efforts in the Philippines, Neistat suggests donating to Unicef.