When asked to describe his business I’m Shmacked, co-founder Arya Toufain said, “We provide a medium for what [the college experience] actually is. We’re like National Geographic for college.”
This sums up the business of I’m Shmacked pretty well. Toufain, along with co-founder Jeffrie “Yofray” Ray, dive deep into the depths of America’s college campuses in search for footage of perhaps the wildest and most elusive beast of them all: the college co-ed in its natural habitat.
Ray, a former student at College of Visual Arts in Manhattan, and Toufain, a former student at George Washington University, formed I’m Shmacked after meeting each other through mutual friends. Soon, they were capturing the epitome of college life through babes, booze and bongs. When they started gaining attention after featuring their third video, the pair signed to a boutique management firm in New York, bankrolling the duo’s personal project with major investment.
After quickly going viral in 2012 and gaining notoriety through the Internet, word of mouth and startled news outlets, I’m Shmacked set off on their 2013 fall bus tour, with Ohio University marked as a stop on their list.
“We came to 9 Fest last year,” Toufain said. “We’ve been to Athens before. It has great vibes and we’ve been keeping our eye on it.”
Thursday, Oct. 3, I’m Shmacked hit the bricks of Athens, Ohio. Cameras in tow, the crew captured footage of OU’s party scene throughout the weekend.
However, it’s been over a month now, and there is still no sign of a video, even though it was promised to be put up after #Halftime, a mid-year fest similar to the Number Fests.
So, where’s the video? The turnaround was definitely shorter for Ohio State, which only took a week to produce. Why is Ohio’s video taking so long?
The easiest answer is that they ran into some bad luck, and they were unable to get enough quality footage. However, there were a number of factors that led to the most talked-up video of the school year.
First, it is important to keep in mind that I’m Smacked is a for-profit business. Over 300K has been invested in them, and they are looking to make money. I’m Shmacked has racked up a hefty lump sum. CBS station WUSA9 reported that this year that they have made over six figures so far.
To them, every campus is a business endeavor, and strict calculation is made on whether or not they can bring in the dough, mostly through selling tickets for events at booked venues. Normally, this is through L.A.-based Wantickets, at the rate of $20 regular and $75 VIP tickets. However, in the case of Ohio University, I’m Shmacked and its partner All Axcess co-sponsored #Halftime through connections with the number fest promoters.
Filming at these sponsored events is no hassle, but it is a necessity for I’m Shmacked to have other locations to film. In order to produce refined, sharp videos, they need as much material as they can get their hands on. Less events and locations means more filler. The difference can be seen from their first videos at Temple and University of Rhode Island. What they want to capture is the traditional college rage-your-face-off atmosphere. Think girls making out and beer pong. There can only be so many well-placed shots featuring university “swag”, ornate frat row, and marquee sporting events.
Permission from the owners/tenants of the location is also a necessity and infinitely streamlines the process of gathering provocative party eye-candy. This avoids turning things into a chaotic mess, such as in the Delaware video, when I’m Shmacked sold tickets without setting up a venue, which led to multiple arrests and debatably incited a riot.
To avoid this, I’m Shmacked has built up a well-oiled student infrastructure made to run like a machine, with local representatives on the ground mapping out their visit. Whether they are personal connections of Ray and Toufain or official contacts, the representatives help I’m Shmacked navigate the scene of their current university. Long-term contact takes place over social media, and in August, the brand set up a Twitter account (@ImShmackedReps) that told their reps to mark their job on Facebook to “Works at I’m Shmacked as Brand Ambassador” and organize themselves by groups.
According to an Ohio University student, who is under the pseudonym of “Smith” due to previous run-ins with administration, I’m Shmacked tagged along with fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon to film a party at Palmer Place apartments Friday, Oct. 4 before #Halftime. After having various degrees of contact with I’m Shmacked leading up to the weekend, Smith was contacted by an I’m Shmacked rep inside the fraternity. With the help of 40 cases of beer, a DJ and ample space of the apartments’ courtyard, the crew could film all of the drunken debauchery OU had in store.
“It was unique because they don’t always have open parties like that,” Smith said.
When the party kicked off, the complex began overflowing with attendees. The balconies were lined with people filming the massive crowd below as they feverishly danced to electronic music. Trash cans were filled with beer, and hundreds of partygoers screamed at the liquor-soaked lenses of the I’m Shmacked crew as the bass thumped throughout Palmer Place’s grassy terrace.
However, things quickly got out of hand. Freshman Clay McCorkle, who attended the event, noticed the scene began getting out of hand when a group of people started climbing on top of a light post in an attempt to tear it down.
“Everyone was drunk … shaking the light post.” McCorkle said. “People saw the head [of the post] was shaking, and kids were trying to tackle the poll down and shit. This guy came out asking who did this. Everyone then scattered.”
Police arrived on the scene, and the party was shut down around 9:30 p.m. I’m Shmacked now had to scramble to find other parties. With the night running late, finding a new party to film became a logistical nightmare. The group briefly stopped at a party that Smith was throwing for about a half an hour; then they had to take to look elsewhere for action.
Bad luck continued to follow them to Court Street, where they had difficulties filming. Acquiring footage outside was easy, but the main action was inside the bars. Having miscalculated their notoriety on campus, the crew believed that they could simply go into any bar and film without prior notification. This worked sometimes, as they were able to film in Red Brick, but there were some awkward dealings with management at various locales. To make matters worse, various customers tried to use affiliation with the company to get discounts.
“I was at the other side of the bar when they were filming,” said Amy Allen, manager and bartender at The Crystal who was working that Friday night. “They had their own section cheering ‘OU Oh yeah,’ but not everyone was in on it. Their light was so bright. They didn’t come talk to us. None of us knew what was going on.”
The group voiced its disappointment, and faced the backlash of its OU followers.
“They tweeted, ‘I thought OU turned up,'” Crystal bartender Scotty Russell said. “Then people replied back ‘F— you, of course we do!'”
The tweet was quickly taken down, and students started voicing their opinions to @OU_Confessions.
Russell also mentioned that on another night, “They [I’m Shamacked] were trying to get into the side door and Zach [the bouncer] said, ‘Of course you can’t come in. We’re at full capacity.'”
With mixed results at the bar scene, I’m Shmacked hoped to get plenty of footage on Saturday from their flagship event, #Halftime. Sure, there were the antics of the crowd and rapper Riff Raff, who palled around with the group during their stay, but the turnout was much smaller than previous fests. According to Athens Ohio Today, numbers were significantly down from that of previous fests. Because Number Fest wasn’t willing to cash out big money, a less notable collection of artists headlined, making the set less appealing to students. Ticket sales slumped, bringing in less profit and less of a cut for I’m Shmacked. Police were also cracking down on illegal taxis dropping off people on the festival grounds, which made transportation to and from the venue difficult.
Whether or not the video was lost, as the rumor goes via word of mouth and various Twitter posts, it is far more likely that there wasn’t enough material to put together a high quality video. It doesn’t make a difference if they had a technological malfunction or if they misjudged their following. The bars, #Halftime and the party scene all proved to be relatively quiet and not at their full potential. If I’m Shmacked were to come during Halloween, more than enough footage could have been captured. It was simply the wrong weekend. We’ll just have to see if they come to 12 Fest.