An 11-second video changed the outlook of Zachary Taub’s career.
A video of Boston University men’s basketball forward Otto Landrum waving “hi, mom” on the court currently has over 7 million views — but it took Taub, a sophomore in the College of Communication, just 45 minutes to create.
Taub, a videographer for the men’s basketball team, said he knew as soon as he made the video that it would be a hit. The video had all the ingredients for success: a catchy song — hip-hop track “Africa” by Slimenese — and a “goofball” — Landrum, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences.
When the video’s views started to pile up, Taub said he anticipated around 200,000 viewers. When the video hit one million views just a couple days after he posted it on Instagram, the popularity became overwhelming.
And then came the influx of reposts and imitations.
“People see the video and obviously they think it’s good enough that they want to recreate it and for me, it’s really the most special part of this,” Taub said.
The video sparked many re-creations — and even one Lego animation — which Taub described as a “surreal” experience.
When he saw users online making their own TikToks to “Africa” — dunking like Landrum and mouthing “hi, mom” — Taub said “they’re sharing that experience of making the video.”
Taub began creating sports content in high school. After Taub decided to stop playing basketball, his old AAU coach offered him a job filming basketball games on an iPhone and uploading them to Youtube. During the pandemic, Taub had more time to study at the “University of Youtube,” where he learned special video effects and how to use social media to his advantage.
Creating sports content was initially something Taub loved to do for fun, but it turned out to be much more than that. In addition to his videography for the men’s basketball team, he also works for the women’s lacrosse team and as a freelance videographer for “SLAM,” a basketball magazine.
Now, it’s his future career.
Not only did millions of people see Taub’s video, but many of them followed him. His following increased by 10,000 on Instagram and 14,000 on TikTok, and Landrum now has over 70,000 followers on Instagram and 389,000 on TikTok.
Matt Woolverton, BU Athletics assistant director of social media, said the basketball team has seen positive changes since Taub’s video went viral.
“We’ve seen an uptick in general attendance, fans and through games, and certainly the following of the team has been at a greater height due to that video,” Woolverton said.
Woolverton attributed Taub’s success to his close relationship with the players.
“Any videographer that shows up to the game isn’t gonna be able to get the content that he does, because of the rapport he’s built with some of those folks,” Woolverton said. “His big skill sets right now in my eyes are his ability to connect with athletes and … his ability to just do things at a high level.”
Taub said that since most of the players are around his age, connecting with them is easy.
Outside of basketball, Taub said he and Landrum hang out all the time, whether it be watching movies, playing FIFA or even cooking together.
“It seems like he’s one of the guys,” Woolverton said.
Taub said even though his hours are different from the players’, they both sweat. While the team’s battle is physical, his is mental. That shared determination is what brings the two together.
Men’s basketball head coach Joe Jones said Taub’s connection with the team is what sets his work apart.
“He’s not only a good dude, but he’s very talented,” Jones said.
In fact, Jones said he has been impressed with Taub since he started working as a videographer for the team two seasons ago.
“Right from the start, I looked at the quality of his work and was blown away,” Jones said.
Taub’s friend since freshman year, Cole Hecker, a sophomore in CAS, attested to Taub’s ambition and creativity.
“Zach doesn’t, from what I see, create based on how people will perceive it, but rather for the purpose of creation,” Hecker said.
Taub said that now that he has this platform, he looks to make the most of it. He said in five years he hopes to be working with a professional athlete or a sports team.
Jones said because of Taub’s work with the team, he is doing what he can to get Taub a job working for a professional team over the summer.
“[Taub] will inevitably come to a point where he’s ready to leave college and get a career in sports media,” Woolverton said. “He’s both incredibly prepared for it and would be a great addition to any digital media team at the pro or collegiate level.”
Regarding his future, Taub said his hell is a nine-to-five. For what’s next, he envisions something more creative — ideally, something where he “can teach and pass my experience and my joy for this along to them.”