Intercontinental flights, exotic locales and unexpected arrivals — this is the stuff of movie romance. However, filmmaker Casey Neistat makes the scenario a reality when he surprises then-girlfriend Candice Pool at her family’s home in South Africa to celebrate New Year's Eve together. Unbeknownst to Pool, Neistat booked a last-minute flight from New York to Cape Town and documented the entire spontaneous sojourn in a video uploaded to YouTube on Jan. 8, 2012. Perhaps the clip's most endearing footage captures Pool's bewildered scream, peppered with expletives, upon watching Neistat walk into her bedroom.
Neistat, 34, has built a career making short films on YouTube and currently boasts over 1.3 million subscribers. His work frequently features moments from his personal and professional lives, including ample documentation of his on-again-off-again relationship with Pool spanning many years (this 20-minute short film thoroughly sums up their love story). The couple eventually married in 2013 and gave birth to a baby girl, Francine, in 2014. Her milestones are now often captured in Neistat’s daily vlogs, much to the delight of his loyal viewer-base.

Neistat tells designboom that he's most passionate about his family, stating, "They’re what drive me." However, Neistat's catalog of online videos also explores everything from problematic city bike lanes (this video is one of his most viral, boasting over 15 millions views) to the truth behind calorie labels. And perhaps one of his most gripping endeavors involves the advertising campaign for the Ben Stiller film, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." Neistat instead pledged the $25,000 marketing budget toward disaster relief following the 2013 typhoon in the Philippines.

When asked by designboom what initially inspired his career in filmmaking, Neistat explains, "The desire to be heard. Movies are a way of sharing perspective and sharing ideas. I wanted to be able to communicate better, and movies helped me do that." In the case of his epic New Year's surprise in South Africa, Neistat's gesture, and subsequent short film, speak volumes about his priorities – not to mention his talent.