Van Neistat was born Van Moody in Maine in 1975, raised in Connecticut, educated at West Virginia University and The College of William and Mary in Virginia. He has lived in New York City since 1998 with stints in Berlin and Toronto.
The eldest child of a single teenage mother, Van's adventures began early. At the age of 2 he and his mom moved from Maine to Connecticut on Halloween day in a 1976 Honda Civic. Upon their arrival, Van's mom painted whiskers on him and took him out trick or treating dressed as a dog.
The first thing Van ever made with his hands was Cheerios breakfasts at age 3. "I waitressed double shifts and used to sleep in. Van would pour himself a bowl of cheerios and watch 'Meet the Nation' on our black and white TV while I slept," says his mother, Amy.
After sneaking into a Boat Tail Buick Riviera, Van had his first car accident at age 4 when he clunked the transmission into reverse and rolled down a hill into a VW bus. Everyone was ok.
In 1979 Van's mother married Barry Neistat, a restaurant supply salesman. Barry adopted Van, giving him a new last name. In 1980 Jordan Neistat was born, not quite beating the shotgun. Casey was born a year later. Dean 2 years later.
Van attended public school in Ledyard, Connecticut, though he grew up in Gales Ferry. "We had train tracks, a river, woods and plenty of matches," Van says of the small New England Town. "Mom maxed out her credit card and bought us a video camera when I was 10 and Casey was 4. It had a JC Penny logo on the side. If she caught us playing with it unsupervised, she'd beat our knuckles with a wooden spoon. That thing cost more than her car." Thus, dozens of hours of the Neistat children's lives were recorded on VHS tape.
By getting an ADHD diagnosis in 11th grade, Van managed to take his SATs untimed, earning a high enough score to gain admission to West Virginia University. By taking Ritilin he managed a 4.0 gpa and transferred to the College of William and Mary. "I cried when i got the acceptance letter, because I only got laid twice in the 2 years i was at WVU, and that was with girls from my high school."
He moved to Williamsburg. Williamsburg, Virginia. He moved in with a gay south african and a deaf girl who was only sort of deaf. She once wrote a story called "My Family Cheats at Clue."
The next year Van was chosen to live in the Hippie House, a hand-me-down off-campus Colonial Revival. Each year students leaving the Hippie House chose students to replace them the following year. The Hippie House was the off-campus alternative to fraternity parties. Famous for its Halloween Party and Cocktails for Christ Christmas party, most social events involved a theme and dressing up.
Around this time, Casey dropped out of high school in Connecticut and moved to Virginia. In order to enroll Casey in Jamestown High, Van became Casey's legal guardian. After impregnating his girlfriend that year, Casey moved back to Connecticut. Van ran out of tuition money shortly after, and moved to Brooklyn.
Van bought his first imac and DV camera in 2000, and began working for artist Tom Sachs in 2001. In collaboration with Sachs, Van made 30 short films to play at Sachs' Nutsy's exhibition in the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. Van lived in Berlin and worked at the Guggenheim as the Nutsy's Caretaker for the duration of the show.
Upon returning from Europe, Van and Casey got their own studio in Tribeca, NYC. After the success of the Neistat Brothers' "IPOD's Dirty Secret." The brothers hustled enough work to quit Sachs studio and concentrate exclusively on their own projects.
In 2005 Colette, Paris comissioned an ambitious show featuring over 40 Neistat Brothers films. The brothers also exibited movies at the Palais de Tokyo and Grand Palais during the same week, gaining attention in Europe.
Upon returning from France, the brothers partnered up with Andy Spade and Tom Scott to make "The Respectability Tour," A 1-hour documentary about a cross country road trip. Pleased with the result, Tom Scott partnered with the brothers to make the "Neistat Brothers." This HBO series picks up from there.
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