Caine’s Arcade: The Virality of a Feel Good Story
By now, you’ve probably seen the moving ten minute documentary entitled “Caine’s Arcade” by producer Nirvan Mullick (if you haven’t, check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faIFNkdq96U). This is one of the best examples of a well-told moving digital short spurring so much action in such a short amount of time — all facilitated by popular social media platforms. To date it has almost 3 million YouTube views and has enjoyed wide media coverage from Forbes, Huffington Post and Good Morning America, to name a few.
Partly narrated by Mullick, and partly narrated by Caine’s lovable father, George, “Caine’s Arcade” features Caine Monroy, a 9 year old Los Angeleno who has built a complicated cardboard arcade out of used boxes from his father’s auto parts shop. One day, Mullick fortuitously arrives to buy auto parts but stays once he notices Caine’s intriguing arcade. Impressed by Caine’s passion and ingenuity, he returns with a camera to tell Caine’s story.
Caine carefully walks us through his arcade. His inventive methods of building a claw hook for the toy machine, for example, or his complex security system used to identify fake Fun Passes (5 uses for $1, but $2 gets your 500 uses in a month AND a Fun Pass!) underscores this entrepreneur-in-the-making’s creative genius. George narrates how his son works on the arcade everyday, but without any customers due to the drop in walk-by traffic caused by increasing online sales, he has yet to find a customer. Until Mullick.
Shots feature Caine in his Caine’s Arcade custom t-shirt, hopefully gazing out from the storefront, proudly cleaning his shop and arranging his games. Mullick decides to surprise Caine by organizing a flash mob to descend upon Caine’s Arcade, and films his reaction. The delight in his eyes as Caine sees the extensive line down the street leading up to his arcade after a strategically planned trip to Shakey’s pizza is priceless and incredibly moving. After a fun day of running his arcade, Caine remarks that it was “…the best day of my life.” So far, Mullick has raised over $150,000 for Caine’s college fund.
Mullick’s eye for a good story, creation of a shareable digital short, and comprehensive social media presence in addition to the initial YouTube video (a Caine’s Arcade Facebook page, Twitter account and website) gave followers interactive content to relate to. It created a community of people inspired by Caine’s story, and a forum to discuss how to encourage kids’ creative efforts. Instead of stopping at the film, Mullick ensured that Caine benefited from his hidden talents and built a sustainable online community using popular mediums around a greater good. By organizing in-person support online (courtesy of Hidden LA) and creating an online donation form, Mullick made supporting Caine easy, shareable and quick. This solidly illustrates the power of social media to enhance traction and longevity around causes.When an entrepreneurial kid combines with a supportive parent and talented, tech-savvy filmmaker, good things can (and certainly did!) happen.