Portal A Partner Zach Blume Discusses Creating Annual ‘YouTube Rewind’ Masterpiece [INTERVIEW]

Portal A is in the enviable position of being YouTube’s go-to production company for BIG EVENTS. And by big events, we are of course talking about YouTube’s Rewind video for 2013 — a mega-production involving many YouTubers, many countries, explosions … and a goat.


And yet, it’s the work of Portal A, an L.A. and San Francisco-based online production company that was tasked with compressing all of YouTube’s 2013 into a roughly six-minute video. And yet, they freaking did it.

One of the smash YouTube videos of the year, with over 40 million views in one week (and rising quickly), Portal A’s principals, Executive Producer Nate Houghteling, Creative Director Kai Hasson and Managing Director Zach Blume can now pretty much write their own ticket as far as interesting projects go. We’ve talked with them before because they’re no stranger to innovative storytelling and we’re no stranger to their work. And, hopefully, if we didn’t annoy them too much, they’ll talk with us again.

NMR hit up Zach for some answers to our most pressing questions about compressing a year that included a Kid President, a “talking” fox, the follow-up to PSY’s massive jam of last year, and more Miley Cyrus than you could swing a “Wrecking Ball” at. Hearing from Zach after watching this video to repeatedly catch all the pop culture references, I’d speculate that 2013 was a pretty darn exciting year.

Who was behind the ideas for the video? Did YouTube just tell Portal-A what they wanted and then you guys got it done?

As is true with every one of our projects, Portal A was responsible for leading and contributing to the creative at every step along the way.

How did YouTube and Portal-A decide which YouTubers they wanted to be in the video?

That’s really a question best suited for our partners at YouTube.  


I’ve personally heard from a few YouTubers that some of the organization behind the making of the video was a little less than stellar. How hard was it to manage so many people in one video?

Considering the fact that individual schedules were coordinated for 60-80 partners; Rewind buttons were shipped and remote footage was submitted from 15-20 creators in countries from Brazil to Korea to Japan to England; we had 6 full shoot days, over 10 separate locations, and shoots in multiple countries around the world; and that this all happened in a matter of weeks – I’d say that the organization of this production was exceptionally stellar, and in some ways, miraculous. 

What are one or two of the more hidden memes or internet references in the video that maybe most people might not have caught?

Slo Mo Guys on the trailer as an homage to the trailer scene in “Can’t Hold Us.”

Has the video turned out to be, product and view-wise, exactly what both YouTube and Portal-A wanted?

Again, I won’t speak on YouTube’s behalf, but from our perspective, the answer is a resounding yes. 


Do you know if you’ll be doing next year’s Rewind video?

We haven’t thought that far ahead; we’re still celebrating 2013.

Here are some other interviews we know you’ll like:

BroadBandTV CEO Shahrzad Rafati Thinks YouTube is a ‘Growing, Healthy Space’ [INTERVIEW]

Podcast Hosts Geoff & Mike Talk Their New YouTube Show ‘Worst Gig Ever’ [INTERVIEW]

Special thanks to Sweatpants Media for use of their kickass behind-the-scenes photos!

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