Living the dream

Dynamic Duo: AJ Aguirre (left) and Ben Hamner are two of the six members that make up Round III Media, a filmmaking crew consisting of past and current Baylor students. Round III Media published the BSR Cable Park water slide video that went viral last summer.

Filmmakers reflect on viral video, new adventures since

By Ashlyn Thompson | Lariat Reporter

It’s been almost a year since Round III Media released its viral video of Waco’s BSR Cable Park Super Slides.

The video, which uploaded to YouTube in June 2015, has attracted more than 34 million views, putting both the media platform and BSR on the map.

One year of radical adventures and “squad goals” later, the crew reflects on how their experiences, as well as their brand, have evolved.

Ben Hamner and AJ Aguirre both grew up adventurous spirits, both also interested in filmmaking.

Sharing the same passion brought the pair together in high school when they began making videos of the various sports they played.

Although Aguirre is five years his senior, Hamner said being at Baylor drew them closer and they began to hangout with mutual friends.

“It was born out of this love for love for action sports,” Hamner said. “And we realized there was a market for what we wanted to do.”

Since then, the project of documenting their bold lifestyle has taken flight, and the two have led their friends to Austin, Colorado and even the Cayman Islands in search of adventure.

As their brand becomes more clear and the team closer, the pair is learning exactly where they want to take Round III in the future.

Hamner said what started as a way to showcase the ultimate “friend goals” has transformed into propaganda for living the best possible life.

Instead of simply recording a fantasy lifestyle, the crew wanted to demonstrate that this type of freedom is attainable for everyone.

“It started off idealized, in a way,” Hamner said. “We wanted to visualize the perfect lifestyle and try to put it on screen. But now we really try to connect with people more.”

It might seem Round III’s projects will take a backseat after the last Baylor students graduate this May, however, Hamner said he expects they will continue to make videos.

Hamner said he and the rest of the group are going all in. The team, which has grown since Aguirre and Hamner started a year ago, has grown with every trip they’ve taken.

He said even if they didn’t know someone very well at the start, their friendships grow with every trip they take.

Hamner anticipates that this trend will continue after graduation, with new friends who come into the picture.

“It’s a growing family,” Hamner said. “We’re serious about experiencing this with other people and being open.”

Plano Senior Sheridan Ellis has been a part of the crew since last summer . Ellis said she met Hamner through a mutual friend, and they began talking about Round III’s need for graphics. Hamner said when they met Ellis for coffee, she seemed like a perfect fit for their crew.

“When I met with them to show them my graphic ideas, AJ, Ben and David all walked to the side to talk about something,” Ellis said. “I thought they weren’t happy with my work, but they ended up asking me to join them on their first trip. It was leaving the next day.”

Since their success with the BSR video, Round III has been commissioned for brands like Mercedes that want to utilize their unique talent.

The crew connects with a millennial audience, which many companies find it difficult to market to.

By partnering with Round III, brands can connect with a hard-to-reach age group. However, Hamner said they never want their videos to look sponsored.

Hamner said the team has been approached with everything from movie deals to reality shows to other brands asking for promotional videos.

The group is becoming so popular that Hamner said he took the semester off of school to pursue projects full-time. Although they are gaining attraction, Hamner said they don’t agree to every deal that comes around.

“We want to stay true to our brand and to the authenticity of our videos, in doing so, maintaining our artistic credibility,” Hamner said. “We’ve turned down a lot of offers because of that.”

The team accomplishes this sentiment by financing all of their adventures independently.

Hamner noted that he and Aguirre both work and save money for their trips, and often try to pay for their friends to go as well.

Round III’s latest video, “Summer Dreams”, reflects this attitude perhaps even more than previous projects.

A shift in motive is clear, particularly in the voiceover of a lecture by philosopher and speaker Alan Watts, in which he motivates young people to do what they want regardless of money.

“It’s about showcasing the American dream,” Hamner said. “We’re entrepreneurs.”

Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity is hosting the War of the Roses as a part of their Ability of Experience philanthropy to benefit those with mental and physical disabilities. Spokane, Washington Junior MacArthur Peterson (left)and Eglin Air Force Base Florida Senior Markus Reedy members of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity are seen participating in the Ride-a-Thon, a 24 hour bike ride. Other events this week include a flag football tournament on Wednesday and a Field Day on Fountain Mall on Thursday. Trey Honeycutt | Lariat Photographer
Trey Honeycutt | Lariat Photographer