At FiberFix we had responded to unusual requests before, but this one was flirting with crazy. Full body armor? FiberFix is a rapid-cure, permanent repair wrap – not a combat accessory. It goes on things like broken water pipes, yard tools and furniture. Yes, it is ridiculously strong, and patches of it have even stopped bullets, but this was beyond anything we had ever tried before.
“We’d love to figure it out, but what exactly are you trying to do?”
We soon heard the whole story. Jeff Harmon of Orabrush and Poo-Pourii fame had co-founded VidAngel, which offers a profanity and objectionable content filter for streamed videos, and now he was trying to make another viral YouTube ad to get his point across – that every word has impact.
He wanted a metaphor to visualize the effect of media profanity by assaulting a family of four with 792 paintballs per person or 3168 total (the number was generated from the film The Wolf of Wall Street which broke every swearing record in cinema history). As any paintball enthusiast knows, getting hit once is no picnic, let alone 800 times, and whatever protection worn also needed to be form-fitting so it could be concealed under clothing.
Jeff had already experimented with a scuba suit and Styrofoam, and he showed us massive bruises on his chest from just five shots. “I didn’t think it was possible. I thought we might literally kill somebody or send them to the hospital, and we started to call the shoot off when somebody brought up FiberFix.”
That’s when we got his phone call. Jeff’s associate, Benton Crane, offered to guinea pig in our first test. We flattened some boxes for him to lie on, protected his shirt with plastic wrap and began applying several rolls of FiberFix. With a ten minute cure time, it wasn’t long before we had our first FiberFix shield plate. Benton was a little nervous as Jeff pulled out his Tippman A-5 paintball gun, but the test went flawlessly – a little pressure, but no pain to speak of. It seemed almost unbelievable.
After a lot more experimentation, FiberFix, Little Debbie’s, and a couple 2am evenings, I worked with Chani from VidAngel to churn out 4 complete suits of armor. Two FiberFix employees, Elaina Wusstig and Nathan Richey, volunteered as stunt doubles and stayed long after hours so we could create and fit the first two suits. Callee Marshall and Emily Anderson volunteered to model for the second generation. Not only is FiberFix designed to be watertight or even airtight for pipe repair, it also gets warm during the curing process. Those stunt doubles sweat through a virtual sauna to create that armor! Check out the making of Callee and Emily's suits below!
When the day of the shoot came, we were confident in our preparation. I was impressed with the precautions that had been taken in training the shooters, establishing clear protocol, checking and double-checking the armor, and managing traffic around the set. Watching 3200 paintballs fly, however, was breathtaking to watch, to say nothing of what being hit must have felt like to be hit by them. I myself was in the firing squad.
As soon as it was safe after the horn sounded and the shooting stopped, I ran on set to check the status of the stunt doubles. I knew how meticulous we had been and what tests we had run, but I couldn’t fight the natural inclination to be concerned. We knew it could withstand a few dozen just fine, but we hadn’t had the resources to do testing in a hailstorm of 3200 paintballs in advance. My eyes had instinctively told me that to come out of that unscathed would defy all reason.
The set was torn down and a new one was thrown up for a second shoot with a new set of stunt doubles, but for this one there was no trepidation. It was going to be another very late night, but sometimes you can’t help but love your job.
Here's how the final video turned out!
Here's how the final video turned out!