Famous for six seconds: The celebrities of Vine

Twitter’s video app, Vine, only lets its users make the shortest of films. Still, that hasn’t stopped its stars from turning brief encounters into a high-profile career

If you have never come to terms with the Kardashians, you might struggle with the concept of a Vine celebrity.

But Twitter's video app, which has just celebrated its first birthday, is launching dozens of young "Viners" into fame and fortune with clips lasting seconds. Vine's brevity is its USP (videos made and broadcast through the app can be no longer than six seconds and consist of six frames) and Viners have used their mobiles to capture snapshots of everything from the Boston bombings to stop-motion film, porn to pranks. But the app's staple is a kind of witty skit that tells a story in a heartbeat.

With more than 40 million users, Vine and its stars are redefining what it means to be famous in the 21st century.

Earlier this month, two of the world's most popular Viners, Jerome Jarre, 23, and Nash Grier, 16, turned up at a shopping centre near Reykjavik to meet fans on the northern European leg of Grier's international tour (yes, Viners have international tours). It was a casual affair, organised between the two friends via social media the day before. Neither of them was expecting big crowds.

"Someone could have died," Jarre tells me when I speak to him. A total of 5,000 fans turned up, and, desperate to get close to the pair, ran riot. Once things had finally calmed down, the Vine celebrities had to pick up the bill. Jarre had wanted to do a free meet-up, so decided against booking a venue and hiring security, but he tells me the Reykjavik gig will be the last of its kind. It was "too dangerous" to do again, he says.

Jarre's presence turns his fans into gibbering wrecks, but, in a coffee shop off Oxford Circus in London, he looks relaxed, comfortable with success but unmoved by a very modern sort of fame. Jarre is striking in the flesh. He's tall and handsome in a traditionally French - which he is - kind of way. With a fanbase of four million followers and growing, Jarre is the fourth most popular Viner on the planet, falling after Grier, King Bach and Brittany Furlan. His Vines are irreverent and Jarre opts for real-life interaction. In other words, he pranks people, and his fans love it.

In one Vine, we see Jarre asking the camera, "why is everybody afraid of love?", before running up to a shopper in a supermarket and giving her a fright by shouting "love" at her. Jarre's Vines, which can be replayed on his account, skirt the boundaries of what is socially acceptable, but he insists that he always tries to finish on good terms after filming.

Jarre left home, a small Alpine town in France, at 19, dropping out of business school to try to find fortune in China. Failing, he moved to Toronto and finally New York, where he launched his Vine career and a talent agency called GrapeStory, with social-media expert Gary Vaynerchuk. They manage the contracts of most of the world's top 20 most-followed Viners. He's vague about how much he's made so far: "We're not talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars but it's enough to live. So I can say I am making a living out of Vine. So do 20 other people." What Jarre does reveal is that he hasn't actually taken home a single penny yet because he didn't have an American work visa.

In June last year, Ellen DeGeneres aired one of Jarre's Vines on her chat show, a first for American TV. Three months later and he was welcomed as a guest on the programme. Now, he's set to become a regular, providing he gets his visa. "As a kid, I always said I wanted to meet everybody on earth," Jarre says. As one of the kings of Vine, he might be one step closer.

Colin Kroll, 29, co-founded Vine in June 2012 in New York with Rus Yusupov and Dom Hofmann. The trio, who still work in the Big Apple, had always enjoyed sharing videos with each other and hoped others would, too. "I think that we felt that if we made the tools really simple to use, people would be inspired to shoot and share their lives with us," Kroll explains. Four months later - and before the app had even been released to the public - it was bought out by Twitter, for a rumoured $30m. Groups of like-minded people soon started collaborating through Vine. Kroll says: "Vine has become the product of its community. It's really cool to see the new creative medium that is larger than yourself."

Steve Dunne, founder of UK-based Digital Drums, a training company that provides advice to government about digital communication, says Vine is successful because video is such a powerful way of transferring information. "You can take in a message 60,000 times quicker in a video or a picture than you can through reading the written word," Dunne explains.

Ian Padgham, considered to be one of the world's most talented Viners, left a high-flying role in Twitter's marketing team last August to use Kroll's "creative medium" to make selfies, comedy and stop-motion art for a living. By any standards, his artistic Vines are extraordinary, and over the last few months he has worked with Xbox, Sony, Nokia, Budweiser, Mercedes, Disney and Twitter. In many of his stop-motion Vines, Padgham creates an illusion of being able to use his fingers to push and pull objects around him. In one, provocatively titled "playing with myself", we see Padgham fling himself around a room, shake the wall and swing a chandelier, all with his index finger, his thumb, a mirror and some clever camera work.

Padgham won't say how much he makes for each Vine, but reveals that companies can pay up to $10,000 per video. That's $1,666 a second.

While he doesn't have as large a following as Jarre, Padgham, with more than 327,000 followers, was one of the first Viners to recognise its business potential as a user. "It's getting to this point where it's not just content, it's not just the production of the creative, it's this whole idea of how agencies and brands are trying to connect with influencers and advertise in that way. It will be a fascinating trend to see how advertising transforms to incorporate this idea of individuals as influencers."

Vine celebrities, such as Jarre and Padgham, are becoming assets to companies who, ever more so, want their kind of content and personality to be associated with their brand. Over 12 months, the app has fundamentally changed the way brands work with those they sponsor. Earlier this month, MTV paid Nash Grier to produce a Vine in fancy dress in order to advertise its show, Teen Wolf.

He might have just been knocked off Vine's top spot by Grier, but 25-year-old American Andrew Bachelor, King Bach to most, understands better than most how to use Vine to promote himself. King Bach, who moved from Florida to LA three years ago, produces archetypal Vines. Focusing on skits, he tells stories through video that his fans can relate to - many of which involve King Bach failing at flirting. The wannabe actor, who has more than five million Vine followers, is a self-described international heartthrob ("the ladies love me... they always propose to me and I always accept") and has used his internet stardom to land a recurring role in the hit US TV show House of  Lies.

While Vine and its select set of superstars have different goals - some want fame, some fortune, some a creative outlet, some the freedom to experiment - they are all using their internet stardom to launch themselves, and, in this sense, they are all products of the 21st century.

There's one other unifying characteristic of Vine's elite community, and it's that they have foresight but no fixed future. These internet-forged stars are dynamic early adopters, willing to make and take opportunities wherever and whenever they can. 12 months after launching and Kroll can only speculate about where Vine will be in five years' time: "On every mobile phone in the world? I'm not sure." He adds: "I know what we're shooting for."
 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Life and Style
An Internet security expert has warned that voice recognition technology needs to be more secure
techExperts warn hackers could control our homes or spend our money simply by speaking
Extras
indybest
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    1st Line Service Desk Analyst

    £27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

    Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

    £18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

    £18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sales - Trainee Recruitment Co...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Progressive Rec.

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Progressive Recruitment are cu...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style