Viral videos propel pair to campus stardom

By Marcus Dysch, April 7, 2011
In step: A scene from Nic and Jonathan’s first short film, Student Learning Experience

In step: A scene from Nic and Jonathan’s first short film, Student Learning Experience

Home-made comedy music videos made by two Jewish students about life on campus have taken the university community by storm.

Nic Gilbert and Jonathan Kogan's viral clips have received 100,000 hits on YouTube from students across the country.

The pair, both aged 22 and from Totteridge in north London, are now completing their latest film which looks at life after graduation.

Their cult status started to grow 18 months ago after their first film, aimed at attracting teenagers to study at Nottingham University, was disqualified from a university competition.

Nic ex-plained: "There was a contest to make a short video about life on campus so we made Student Learning Experience. We had so many ideas that it made the writing the easiest part of it. We took our handycam onto campus to see what sort of shots we could get without getting into trouble."

The four-minute film, in which the pair star, took three weeks to make. The positive reaction from fellow students took them by surprise, but the judges were not so happy.

"We had no idea that anyone other than the judges would ever watch it. They deemed it 'inappropriate' because the winning entry had to be put on the university website. In the end we were disqualified," said Nic.

But the judges were so taken aback by the pair's film-making skills that they later apologised and the university provided equipment for them to make more films.

Their peers on campus could not get enough. The notoriety of the disqualified film saw it go viral, with thousands of students across the country rushing to YouTube to watch the clips.

That one film alone has now amassed almost 80,000 hits, and together with other clips, the boys' work has been viewed 100,000 times.

Nic said: "I said to Jonathan when it reached 15,000 hits that if I had known how many people would watch it we would have made it even better."

Wider recognition followed, with two nominations at the annual national student film festival, performances at charity events and a live performance at the university's summer ball.

"When people started singing along it was quite shocking to realise people knew our work. It was one of our best experiences," said psychology student Nic.

Both he and Jonathan, a philosophy student, are now knuckling down to the demands of their third year academic work. Their latest film is due to be released in around four weeks.

Nic said: "We are both dreading the day we have to get jobs. If we could make a living out of making films it would be brilliant.

"My mum does not really get the jokes. My dad has a good sense of humour but he's not too keen on the films.

"They are very supportive but I think they would prefer us to be working on our degrees."

● Watch Nic and Jonathan's work at

Last updated: 1:58pm, April 7 2011