73 questions, 1 take: This Vogue series on YouTube is mesmerizing
Ever wonder what what it would be to make a video that poses LiveJournal questionaire-style queries to your favorite celebrity, but also follows them around intimate spaces as they answer you? Vogue's 73 Questions series makes that a virtual reality, with filmmaker Joe Sabia at the helm of a first-person shoot with luminaries like Sarah Jessica Parker, Olivia Munn, Blake Lively, and Daniel Radcliffe.
The series, a partnership between Vogue and the Scene, gets a glossy, Vogue-appropriate presentation on its website, but is also making waves on YouTube.
The project is the brainchild of Sabia, who's created digital pop culture projects like a time machine that lets you explore 1,300 cultural references found in 200 episode of The Office. In February he recived a call from Jed Weintrob of Condé Nast Entertainment (parent company of digital-first platform the Scene) asking what kind of video Sabia would make with Sarah Jessica Parker if he had the actress for a day.
"I didn't admit it to Jed at the time—I mean, I don't know if I've ever told him—but I had never seen an episode of Sex and the City in my life," Sabia told the Daily Dot.
He decided the best approach was to simply let the Parker be herself, and film her in a single take answering icebreaker questions shot from his point-of-view. Originally he's suggested 100, but found that was too ambitious and whittled the number down to 73 because that "looked interesting." The resulting video was a hit, and Sabia and Vogue decided to own the format, signing up more celebs for the treatment.
"In the end, this is basically the reinvention of an interview," Sabia explained. "It's this weird format where you have to watch each video five times to catch all the facts. It fits with the speed, style, and mode of the Internet.
Shooting a single video takes six hours of work on site, as well as countless more in prep time. Sabia says the celebs and crew alike all cross their fingers and hope they can get it in one take, and that so far he's not received any pushback from the stars at the center of the project.
"For the most part, it's exciting to say this has turned into a kind of club I think celebrities want to be a part of," he explained. "Vogue doesn't just take anyone, so the celebrities know going in this is a special case type of thing. And working with them has been nothing less than a joy so far, and they all fully understand the job that needs to get done."
Sabia was tight-lipped about the series' next big-name star, but he offered three hints, "It is a woman, her favorite app is Instagram, and her favorite Disney character is Tinker Bell." As for Sabia, he's got a long list of celebs living or dead he'd love to put to the 73 Questions test.
"It would be pretty epic doing Michelle and Barack in the White House," he said. Outside the bounds of Vogue, his list is more fanciful.
"Stephen Hawking in zero gravity," he continued. "Billy Joel live on stage at a concert. The guy who who created Full House on the set of Family Matters. If I had the chance to bring back dead people to interview? Bob Marley in a Russian bath. Franz Liszt in a church. Socrates in a Greek diner, because why not? I think he'd happily oblige knowing his compensation in exchange for an interview was Earthly resurrection."
Screengrab via 73 Questions/Vogue