Waking up at 4:30 a.m. to start a 15-hour workday never appealed to him. The workload ranged from 20-60 hours per week depending on the season.
The constant solitude of his job didn’t appeal to him either, but it was paying for his college degree in film from the University of Utah.
Perhaps the worst thing about Stuart Edgington’s job was that when he said it was a “crappy” job, he wasn’t kidding, and he knew he had to get out of the mire.
But after a year and a half of cleaning portable toilets, Edgington came away with a cache of great ideas to make a decent living doing something less degrading.
“I spent a year and a half alone … doing a humbling job, not being able to talk to anybody,” Edgington said. “All I did was think of ideas in my brain.”
Edgington began filming his ideas and posting them to YouTube in the fall of 2012. His first few movies never gained more than a few thousand views, but Edgington got his big break in December.
He came up with the idea of a mistletoe prank at a party, where there were leaves of mistletoe hanging on the ceiling and no one kissing underneath. He filmed and edited the video in three days and posted it to YouTube.
“I was not expecting it to be that big,” Edgington said. “My mistletoe video, that week, was the number-one shared video in the United States.”
Edgington’s mistletoe prank video went viral, shared on Facebook more than 243 thousand times. It also was ranked as the number-two holiday video on YouTube and number-three most viewed in the United States that week. His original mistletoe video now has more than 19.5 million views.
Worry suddenly struck Edgington, fearing legal backlash from BYU.
“I was worried that I was going to get in trouble for making a video on BYU’s campus,” he said. “I was trying to stop the video from going viral. It didn’t work.”
BYU did not punish Edge in any way.
Edgington soon received an email from a YouTube representative explaining a way for him to make money by posting videos on his channel. He is now a “YouTube partner” and is paid a commission for every thousand “monetizable views” of his videos. Monetizable views are videos that require viewers to watch an advertisement before the desired video is played.
“I end up getting paid about what a normal person, like a college student, would get paid,” Edgington said. “I put about 40 hours a week into my job.”
Edgington’s latest video, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish,” took seven consecutive days to film, review, edit and finalize.
He said some people recognize him on campus and compliment him on his success, but not everyone is a fan of his work.
“Somebody the other day told me they didn’t approve of or support what I was doing,” he said. “That’s okay, but I sucked crap for a year and a half. This is like a dream I’ve had to follow.”
Edgington’s YouTube channel is a legitimate business, formally known as StuartEdge LLC. He now makes enough profit to compensate actors and other staff for their time and efforts to make his movies.
“I’ve basically started a business as a college student,” Edgington said. “There’s college kids all over the place that have started a business.”
Preston Merchant, Stuart’s roommate and actor in the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” video, enjoys working with Stuart.
“Stuart is a really good guy,” Merchant said. “He’s one of the most honest people I know.”
Merchant, an Arizona native, has been recognized by his friends everywhere.
“I have people from my mission, and they contact me,” Merchant said. “They think it’s so funny.”
Edgington received international attention for his mistletoe prank, grabbing the attention of major news outlets like CNN, NBC, Time and some Italian and British publications as well. His “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” video was recently featured on Good Morning America and is scheduled to be shown on the Today Show.
“I’m just a lucky guy,” Edgington said. “Now I’m just doing a job.”
Edgington hopes to help spread joy and laughter through his videos. The mistletoe prank video went viral during the same week as the Newtown, Conn. massacre, so Edgington decided to reach out to the families of the victims in a quiet, but noble act of service.
“Our video was one of the most viral videos in the nation the same week that those children were having the most tragic event in their life,” Edgington said.
He and his mother purchased 24-karat-gold-dipped mistletoe leaves for each of the victims and wrote personal notes in memory of them to accompany the leaves. In February, Edgington and his brother visited Sandy Hook Elementary School and hand delivered the gold-dipped mistletoe leaves to the victims’ families.
“We didn’t make it a show,” Edgington said, noting there was no video footage of the charitable act. “It was like, ‘This is from us in Utah saying we love you.'”
Edgington hopes to be able to do something each year for Sandy Hook and strives to recruit his YouTube following to help him.
Janiece Edgington, Stuart Edginton’s mother, hopes her son’s videos will promote happiness to viewers.
“The people in the video were complete strangers,” Janiece said. “Wouldn’t it be an amazing world if love and care for complete strangers went viral like his video?”
Stuart Edgington’s mother still wants him to finish his degree.
“It’s more important to invest in yourself than in business,” Janiece said.
Edgington plans to graduate with a degree in marketing but will continue to post videos on YouTube to entertain all who watch them.
“Anything that isn’t cleaning (portable toilets) is awesome,” Edgington said. “(Making videos) is just cool and fun and something I love to do.”