ST Communities' Top Story of 2013: How video interview of Fast & Furious 6 Hollywood stars went viral

Stars of Fast and Furious Vin Diesel, Luke Evans, Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez react to car prices in SingaporeSPH RAZOR TV

When The Straits Times film critic John Lui was assigned a trip to Manila in May 2013, to interview the stars of Fast & Furious 6, he avoided the cliched media video interview where stars just repeat lines to promote their movies.

But Lui turned the interview round and decided to let them guess prices of popular car models in Singapore.

He created a high energy level and the stars' reactions made for "good TV".

Lui told ST Communities: "By the time I got to speak to Vin Diesel, Luke Evans, Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez, they had been answering the same questions from over a dozen reporters and were probably bored out of their minds. They seemed eager to talk about something other than the movie. Also, I think they are just nice people. Some artists (cough cough Keanu) do publicity  - even ones related to the movie they are promoting - with great reluctance. I got lucky with the Fast and Furious crew.

"I was inspired to do the topic of COE prices because foreigners are astounded by Singapore's system, and their reactions were just what I had hoped to get. I think they may have exaggerated their reactions because they are pros - they know what sells on video. And I thank them for it."

The result was a video interview created by The Straits Times and Razor TV, that went viral in Singapore. It made an impact overseas too, as Singaporeans based in other countries shared it to entertain their friends on social media. A search online reveals that overseas movie review sites and some petrolhead enthusiast forums shared the video too, as their audiences enjoyed the Hollywood stars' reactions.

The stats speak for themselves:
330,000 pages views alone for the original post on ST Communities.
40,000 Likes on ST's Facebook
6,148 retweets on Twitter

But the video also spawned 300-plus comments, many of which were critical of Lui's accent and voice during his interview. Still, there were readers who sprung to Lui's defence too, as you will see in the original post.

Lui took it all in his stride and decided to embrace the brickbats.

"I was shocked, dismayed, paralysed, and wanted to crawl under a rock when I read the comments and never wanted to do another video as long as I live. It came as a shock - one of the nightmares that a print reporter has is that when you appear in photos and in video, you will become a target of cruel remarks because of your appearance, voice...anything.

"It's a factor that holds many of us back from multimedia, and it's a problem that is often dismissed as vanity. Anyway, I know you are never supposed to feed the trolls, but I believe social media demands that walls come down and for people to act like human beings, not corporations.  So that's what I did - I apologised and asked for a second chance. And a few of them reacted like human beings back at me. They said I was not that awful. That made my week."

The result was a video interview created by The Straits Times and Razor TV, that went viral in Singapore. It made an impact overseas too, as Singaporeans based in other countries shared it to entertain their friends on social media. A search online reveals that overseas movie review sites and some petrolhead enthusiast forums shared the video too, as their audiences enjoyed the Hollywood stars' reactions.

The stats speak for themselves:
330,000 pages views alone for the original post on ST Communities.
40,000 Likes on ST's Facebook
6,148 retweets on Twitter

But the video also spawned 300-plus comments, many of which were critical of Lui's accent and voice during his interview. Still, there were readers who sprung to Lui's defence too.

Lui took it all in his stride and decided to embrace the brickbats.

"I was shocked, dismayed, paralysed, and wanted to crawl under a rock when I read the comments and never wanted to do another video as long as I live. It came as a shock - one of the nightmares that a print reporter has is that when you appear in photos and in video, you will become a target of cruel remarks because of your appearance, voice...anything."