Social media is a place of extremes. People are always living their utmost, all-out #bestlife. For some that takes the form of honing their biceps in the gym, doing beach yoga and luxuriating with a green smoothie. And for others, it's chowing down, face-first into a grease-dripping, Insta-worthy calorie bomb.
All of this bothered Chad Hopenwasser a little. The chief production officer at Anomaly is a man that likes his food, but he also loves exercise and sports. He felt like no one was telling the stories of the everyperson. The trials and tribulations of life and all that it brings to the size of our waistbands. And so was borne Life As Big Man, Chad’s Instagram channel on which he aims to document exactly that via a series of self-produced videos on the spirit and restraint of gluttony. They are my current favourite things on Instagram.
Chad tells me that he’s always been into shooting moving images. “I’ve never taken a lot of stills,” he says. But as a kid and a student he would shoot with VHS cameras and mini DV camcorders. The issue was that once you’d shot something, even if you got round to editing something together there was nowhere for the content to actually live. Nowadays almost everyone owns a smartphone which can capture, edit and host footage. “The accessibility for this generation of storytellers is fun,” Chad says. “And I wanted to be a part of it.”
Chad admits that he’s never been big into social media, and Life As Big Man is one of his first personal forays into the realm except for a small Instragam profile to keep up to date with friends. He has little interest in the textbook social media post of ‘I am doing this thing right here right now’. “I rarely will post just a big piece of pizza that I’m eating. I don’t think anyone is going to find that interesting. I don’t know if anyone finds what I’m doing now interesting!” But Chad says his only interest is in the storytelling aspect of it - the challenge that many of us deal with when a big fat slice of pizza is in front of us and we wrestle with our inner demons if we should eat it or not.
All of the films on Life As Big Man never leave Chad’s phone. They are shot and cut on the phone, and all voice overs, text, music, everything is added on his phone too. At first, he was using iMovie but these days his weapon of choice is VideoLeap. The filmmaking capabilities of our phones is something that Chad keeps coming back too during our chat - talking about Life As Big Man specifically is something that he’s not massively keen, but the filmmaking opportunities in general get him buzzed. “In the three years that I’ve done Life As Big Man, it’s amazing how much it’s changed in terms of titling, editing and voice overs. It’s pretty darn interesting.”
That point takes Chad on to TikTok. At 43, he’s a tad older than the platform’s primary user base but that’s doesn’t make it any less exciting for him. “These people are telling video content, narrative stories,” he says excitedly. “There’s no stuff on there where it’s just about this party or that, they’re telling actual stories. I think it’s so interesting that you have all these storytellers telling narratives.
“That’s what excites me,” he adds. “I can’t speak to all of the content. Is throwing a piece of cheese at a baby’s head worth the whole journey? But as an overall thing, it is about telling best edited video stories with chapters and titles and editing and sound and music. It’s so exciting that consumers are doing that.”
TikTok is a platform that advertisers and agencies are still getting to grips with so Chad’s general excitement for the platform is pretty refreshing to listen to. I ask him Life As Big Man helps him in his day-to-day as a chief production officer. He judged at CICLOPE in November of last year and that experience left him sure that high-end production - and the production companies that specialise in making that happen - isn’t going anywhere.
“But one of our biggest challenges - and this is nothing new - is that we’re having to figure out how to make things for $500 and how to make things in a responsive way. We’re having to make a lot more content for different channels. When the creative calls for it, lo-fi is something that we’re all trying to get better at, and it’s one of the reasons that I wanted to get better at this - to better understand how we still make lofi really, really good and creative. As an industry and as makers I think it’s something we have to continue to strive to do better.”
As for Life As Big Man, I semi-jokingly ask if any brands have been poking around and if the influencer life is his true future. “I don’t know how long it’ll last,” he says. “I love telling stories and it’s a release for me. I edit on the commute instead of playing Candy Crush. I’m learning new things. My focus is and love is my family and Anomaly.
“But I’m having a lot of fun.”