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Couple in Rush sees well-digging video go viral years after it was shot

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A Rush couple received quite the surprise on Christmas this year:  their own viral video.

“The whole thing caught us by surprise,” said Bethany Choate, when she and husband Matt Heimbueger realized a dusty, modestly viewed video they posted on YouTube in 2013 came to life again and acquired millions of views in a few days.

The video is footage from a GoPro camera in waterproof casing the couple rigged to a rope and sent down their 120 foot well soon after it was dug by Barney Moravec, Inc. in 2013. 

“It’s not a super sophisticated video,” Choate said.  “We just rigged up a little system with a GoPro, flashlights, weights and two liter bottles for stabilization.”

There’s nothing funny or frightening about the video either — the camera doesn’t fall and there’s no jump scares — but it has struck a chord with millions.

“I think a lot of people connect with the exploratory nature of it,” Choate said. “There’s also the scientific aspect of it — what is the geology of our earth?  It’s cool to see the way things change as the camera goes deeper and deeper.”

Although the couple, who both graduated from Rush-Henrietta and RIT’s imaging science program, made the video for their own curiosity (they wanted to see the limestone at 110 feet, their drilling report mentioned) Choate put it on YouTube for fun.

“I didn’t think it would have a huge appeal,” said Choate, whose father Albert Choate, of Rush, also helped make the video. “I thought maybe a few fellow nerds might find it interesting, too.”

The video went virtually undiscovered until Christmas day 2017 when a Reddit user named “Yellowslimjim” re-posted it to the popular social news discussion site with the headline: “These people put a gopro down their well to see what was down there. Pretty Mesmerizing.”

Within two days the forgotten video topped 500,000 views. It currently has more than 800,000 views on YouTube, but Choate said when you add in views from the Facebook pages of entertainment sites such as UNILAD and LADbible, it has over 11 million views total.

“It’s crazy and surreal the reach it’s had worldwide,” Choate said.  “Most surprising to me was the number of friends I had who saw it but didn’t know it was mine.”

The couple also accepted an unsolicited offer from Storyful — an international social media intelligence and news agency headquartered in Ireland — to license the video and collect revenue.

While the Storyful contract is another unexpected piece of the video’s journey, Choate said they don’t have any plans to do anything more with the video or to make a sequel. She also notes the making of the video was not without risk and that if the camera system had dropped the well could have been contaminated.

Currently, Choate and Heimbueger are focused on making their Rush home they built themselves as “green” as possible. 

Their well was dug as they were building their net zero sustainable home. A net-zero home produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements.

Among the home’s features: geothermal heating, 48 solar panels, triple pane windows and 6-inch walls for extra insulation.

They also drive a fully electric car (the Nissan Leaf) and drink very clean (and famous) water.

Contact Caurie at caurie@urgrad.rochester.edu with news from west-side towns. She’s on Twitter at @CauriePutnam and on Facebook at facebook.com/WestExtra. 

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