The numbers are remarkable, as tallied by the Guardian: Eight viral videos published to YouTube over the past couple years were seen in 180 countries more than 205 million times, totaling 164 years of viewing time on YouTube alone and amassing half a million comments and almost 2 million likes. The thing is, they were all fake, and all produced by the Woolshed Company, which is based in Melbourne, reports the Huffington Post, which adds: "We're not even mad." The videos run the gamut: a near shark attack; a selfie in a tornado; a close lightning call; a selfie-stick fight; a Stormtrooper falling down stairs; a GoPro falling into a dance pit; a snowboarder chased by a bear; and a lion attacking a trophy hunter. Now the company is coming clean about what one of its execs calls this "short-form story medium."
After the company's first two successes on its own (shark attack and tornado selfie, the latter actually a paid promotion for the film Into The Storm) the final six videos were produced with Screen Australia, which ponied up $100,000 in public funding, reports the Guardian. "We approached them with the concept, that we’d really like to figure out what are the best ways to reach really big audiences with these tiny little stories," one of the creators says. "It was totally different to what they normally fund." They tell the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that they came up with their first idea by looking at YouTube's biggest hits (animal attacks). Simple special effects were used, but it was little touches—like the snowboarder humming Rihanna and the guy screaming when his girlfriend was almost hit by lightning—that made the difference. And for the record, they think the lion clip was the most obviously fake. (This viral video should make you smile.)