This is a good example of when film grabs the viewer:
Here’s what author Bryan Cook writes about this piece in The Art of Short Form Content:
“Epic Split” was created to promote the dynamic steering found in Volvo’s trucks. The spot swept all the major ad award shows and was an enormous viral hit, with over 77 million views on YouTube, countless parodies, and enough organic PR that some marketer in Sweden probably spontaneously combusted from happiness. If you somehow managed to miss it, “Epic Split” features the actor Jean-Claude Van Damme delivering a monologue on the vicissitudes of his life while perched on top of two Volvo trucks that slowly separate, forcing Van Damme into his “epic split.” All of this happens in one majestic take – scored by Enya’s “Only Time” – as the camera starts on Van Damme’s face and then pulls back and sweeps downwards to reveal the Volvos moving backwards as our hero does his maneuver. The spot ends on a lone title card that simply states; “this test was set up to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering.”
“Epic Split” had no media dollars behind it, which meant that it had to capture and retain attention organically. The ability to do this is what makes or breaks a piece of viral content, so successful work of this nature is engineered to attract attention and be highly shareable. “Epic Split” is tailor-made to do so, as it features a celebrity – always a good thing for getting attention – doing something quite remarkable. Besides having a concept that is guaranteed to attract attention, the spot is executed in such a way that from the first frame – which is a close-up of Van Damme being gently jostled by the movement of the trucks beneath him – to the last, you are hooked.
Although the premise of the spot is quite unique, the piece has a real narrative simplicity, which is key for short form in terms of attracting attention. Viewers opt into watching long form and so they will usually tolerate a more complex narrative that might take them a bit of effort to work out. In short form they will discard the work immediately if they feel like it will take too much cognitive energy to figure out the basic workings of the story. As we have seen, and will continue to see as this book moves along, making great short form content takes a lot of really talented people executing their individual crafts at the highest level. This process involves countless hours of work and thousands of individual decisions for just one piece. That said, no matter how much thinking goes into your work or how novel your approach, at the end of the day, the basic plot and concept of your narrative should be clear and concise. This is why “Epic Split” works so well, as the narrative you need to understand in order to follow what is going on can be boiled down to “a guy doing a split on top of two trucks as they drive backwards.” This sort of simplicity in the basic plot is critical for short form, as the way people see our work, whether it be during a commercial break or playing overhead on a video display in Times Square, necessitates that the basic story can be followed fairly easily.
You can watch how they made this below: