Casey Neistat has finally addressed what actually transpired with his film about the Vlog Squad.
In 2022, Casey debuted a documentary about the rise and fall of YouTube’s golden boy, David Dobrik. The film, titled ‘Under the Influence’, premiered at SXSW. But despite interest from fans, ‘Under the Influencer’ never made it to distribution platforms, leading fans to question what happened to Casey’s highly-anticipated project.
Documenting David and the Vlog Squad’s life since 2019, the film explored the YouTube collective’s experience of viral stardom. Casey’s initial vision was to explore the group’s rise to fame. Halfway through filming, however, the documentary became about David and the Vlog Squad’s fall from grace.
In an interview with Rolling Stone about ‘Under the Influence’, Casey explained that he was initially interested in the new wave of “YouTube stardom” and what it meant to be a social media influencer in 2019.
“There was something entirely unique about the videos he was making,” Casey said. “They were portraits, little windows of life in early adulthood with no limit to resources and no responsibility.”
Two career-defining events in 2021 changed the course of the documentary.
In March 2021, Insider published an article alleging that David was complicit in Dom Zeglaitis’ sexual assault of a college student. Dom was a friend of David’s and a close collaborator with the Vlog Squad. Amid mounting pressure from mainstream media and the Frenemies podcast, David was dropped by sponsors, stepped down from ‘Dispo and even posted two apology videos.
The following month, it was revealed that Vlog Squad member Jeff Wittek “almost died” in an excavator stunt gone wrong. The documentary shows footage of the accident, which left Jeff with a shattered skull and eye socket, broken bones, brain damage, and compromised vision in one eye.
Dealing with the aftermath of these events, ‘Under the Influence’ became about keeping influencers accountable. Showing the boundaries pushed in David’s quest for viral fame, the documentary stresses the troubling power dynamics of influencerdom.
Now, Casey has addressed why his documentary was never released and where his relationship stands with David after filming.
Sitting down with Jeff Wittek on his podcast Jeff FM, Casey shared that his documentary hasn’t been released publicly as he hasn’t found the right home for it yet.
“I still haven’t released it and I feel weird about having not released it,” he told Jeff. “I could if I wanted to — put it on my YouTube channel. But like, we had distribution opportunities that were really exciting and they kind of all fell through for circumstantial reasons.”
Casey went on to say how difficult it was for him to change directions with the documentary following the 2021 scandals, as he loves David.
“It was initially a story about how David, really, is just this superstar who came from nothing and became this star. And I wanted to tell that story,” he explained. “And then it ended up becoming the story about that article that came out that just torpedoed his career.”
“It was difficult for me because I had a really— like I really love David. I still do,” Casey said. “He was a wonderful friend and the idea of making a video celebrating your friend’s success is really exciting. But then, when everything goes sideways, I still felt like — I felt a responsibility to see the movie through, but the story had changed.”
Casey’s decision to follow David’s cancellation in his documentary ultimately ended their friendship.
“I just tried to tell the truth of what transpired […] the fact that I did that was very challenging for him to confront,” Casey said before revealing that David “divorced” him as a friend after filming wrapped.
While Casey has not yet found a home for his documentary, he is still interested in releasing it when the time is right.