The director of Vice’s WTFlorida?!, a new series of short documentary videos profiling the real people behind “weird, funny, and straight-up ratchet stories” from the Sunshine State, says that this time, he wants Floridians to be in on the joke.
“We want them to feel like they’re laughing with us and not being laughed at,” said Dan Zabludovsky, who directed and produced the project. “There are plenty of Florida Man stories that are heinous, and deserve to get no more attention than they already have. ... We’re looking for people with redeeming qualities, so we can go deeper on a story than just the headline. Someone like Lane (”Hurricane" Pittman) is proud of being a Florida Man in the best way that a Florida Man can be.
FLORIDA MAN CHALLENGE: Which ridiculous headline matches your birthday?
Zabludovsky wants to make his subjects relatable, he said, and the series like a “bizarre love letter to Florida.”
Pittman, the subject of the first WTFlorida?! episode (available to watch in full above), is the long-haired Jacksonville man who went viral for his video headbanging outside during Hurricane Matthew. But in the course of making the documentary, Zabludovsky discovered Pittman had used his viral fame to become involved in hurricane relief efforts.
The second episode follows a man known as Paul Flart, a gassy take on the name Paul Blart, a fictional security guard once played by Kevin James.
Flart was working security in Polk County when he became bored and started the project that would make him go viral. He passed gas at work in uniform and made a post about it on Instagram every day for 4½ months. After his boss discovered the posts, he live streamed his own firing from the security company, leading to an explosion of headlines.
That episode (available in full above) recounts the tale, but shows what Flart has been up to since then, and how he has been able to parlay his Florida Man moment into what he says is a sustainable income.
Both episodes are available to watch free online now. The third and final episode is about Dillon Webb, a Lake City man who was pulled over and subsequently arrested for having a particular sticker on his truck and became an unwitting “legitimate First Amendment advocate,” according to a Vice description. It comes out Sunday.
Zabludovsky hopes to make more episodes, he said, and is accepting ideas for future subjects at email@example.com.