A Facebook-produced video touting the social media site’s ability to connect people has made a pair of Riverside-Brookfield High School wrestlers minor celebrities, drawing almost 4.5 million views since it was released to the public on Jan. 30.
The 1 minute, 13 second video features wrestlers Nick Giurini and Antonio Ochoa, a pair of RBHS seniors who, in real life, have been teammates and friends since they were grade-school wrestlers for the Bulldogs Wrestling Club.
In the video, titled “There are Some Friendships You Have to Earn,” the two appear as wrestlers on opposing high school teams. After a hard-fought match, Ochoa pins Giurini. After the referee raises Ochoa’s hand in victory, the two wrestlers shake hands and then embrace before heading back to their benches.
As they part, the words “Not all friendships start out friendly” appear, followed by animation of a friend request being sent via Facebook.
“Everyone’s loved it,” said Giurini, who heads to the IHSA Class 2A sectional meet at De La Salle this weekend along with Ochoa. Both were regional champions last weekend. “We’re pretty much famous [at RBHS] now.”
The short film came about last summer through the parent of a wrestler who participated in the RBHS youth wrestling camp. The parent’s production company was working with Facebook, which was looking for wrestlers and coaches to play the leads in an ad for the social media site.
“Every so often they put a commercial out on Facebook TV,” said RBHS wrestling coach Mike Boyd. “Depending on how many likes it gets, they can decide if the commercial goes national.”
The film was shot in September at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago at a session that lasted about 10 hours, said Boyd. Everyone in the film, except for the two RBHS wrestlers, Boyd and youth wrestling coach Ferdie Astorga, was a professional actor.
After being filmed live wrestling, an ending was scripted and filmed. There was some acting involved, said Giurini, but not a whole lot.
The film was supposed to be released in November, said Boyd. When it wasn’t everyone pretty much forgot about it until it appeared publicly on Facebook. Boyd and the wrestlers didn’t see it until last week.
“When it didn’t drop [in November] we just chalked it up to it not being very popular,” said Boyd. “Then [last week] it dropped and it had like 4 million views within an hour. Everybody was bragging about it.”
Since being released, the film has been viewed more than 4,491,000 times, has more than 24,000 “likes” and had been shared nearly 2,800 times.
“Honestly, I thought it was going to be more corny,” said Giurini. “I was impressed by it.”
Neither Giurini nor Ochoa was paid for the work, but Facebook donated $2,500 to the RBHS wrestling program, which used the money to buy a 60-inch smart TV for the wrestling room, which coaches use to break down film of wrestling matches with wrestlers.
“Antonio and Nick are outright celebrities at school,” said Boyd. “Hopefully, it pays off with [college] recruiting.”