Over 100,000 views of film in 24 hours for director Declan Cassidy
When Irish film maker, Declan Cassidy’s short film about a Dublin homeless man qualified for Oscar consideration in 2010, it was by winning a film festival in the USA, where it played in front of an audience of hundreds. So, when he decided to upload the Irish Film Board-funded short to his newly opened TikTok account, he couldn’t have imagined the size of the audience that would watch ‘Whatever Turns You On’ in just 24 hours.
“I posted it late in the evening and checked back a while later, before going to bed,” Cassidy explains. “One person had looked at it. I was happy that, at least, someone had seen it – until I realised that the one person had been me, checking that it was playing okay.”
It was mid-morning the following day before Cassidy remembered his ‘TikTok’, and opened the app to see if anything had happened.
“I couldn’t believe it. At first, I thought there had been a mistake. The film had been viewed more than 37,000 times. It had played at festivals around the world, but one night on TikTok and it had a bigger audience than any that had watched it since its release over a decade ago.”
It wasn’t just the views that delighted the film maker, who has only returned to the screen industry after a number of years where he cared for his elderly parents.
“There were hundreds of comments from the people who had watched the film. I got quite emotional reading them. They were full of love, support and encouragement.”
By that evening – just 24 hours after posting his film – it had been viewed over 100,000 times, had been ‘liked’ more than 20,000 times and bookmarked as a ‘favourite’ by more than 2,000 people. The film maker’s brand new account now, also, had hundreds of followers, waiting to see future TikToks. Cassidy was able to access creator tools that showed him where his film had been watched and who had been watching it.
“The viewers are mainly young, which means that most would have been children when it was on TV and doing the festival circuit,” he explains. “Literally overnight, the film is getting a whole new lease of life.”
The film maker is also heartened by the comments that young people were making about the subject matter.
“I wrote the film in 2008 when homelessness was a really big problem, and, with the housing crisis, it’s still a real concern today. Reading the comments that young TikTokkers are making about the film really gives me hope, though,” Cassidy says. “It’s clear that the members of Generation Z have big hearts.”
His TikTok experience has been a revelation for Cassidy and he’s now factoring the platform into his creative work plans.
“Before now, short films were generally seen as calling cards. The idea was that you made a great little film to prove that you had what it took to make your first feature film. But TikTok is giving value to short films in their own right. I know lots of other film makers who have super shorts that are gathering dust on shelves. My experience with ‘Whatever Turns You On’ shows that there’s a huge, enthusiastic new audience for this content. I’m certainly going to look through my other work to see what can be repurposed for my new TikTok account, and I’m going to put some thought into other clips that I can create.”
Cassidy’s TikTok profile can be found on tiktok.com/@declancreative