The other day I was browsing my Facebook news feed and I saw someone share a video with the title, “Most Epic Nerf War in History”. How could I possibly not check out a video with that title!? I have to say that I am DAMN glad that I did because it opened up a whole can of worms for me. It’s how I found the RackaRacka Youtube channel and I’ve not laughed as much at a series of short films in a long t……..no wait……ever.
You know when you watch a video that someone has made and straight away you realize that they’ve portrayed funny scenarios that you’ve only ever been able to play out in your mind whilst slightly smirking. The kind of video that has been done so well that if you were to actually portray some of your funny, fantasy based scenarios you’d probably do it in exactly the same way if you could?
The videos capture the type of completely uninhibited and imaginative thoughts that you somehow lose the ability to generate as you get older, it’s like a long lost skill that seeing someone else express in such a powerful manner gives you a deep sense of satisfaction, and leaves you feeling very much in awe at the skill involved. You can watch the videos, step back with your hand on your chin like someone pacing around a car before finally purchasing it and say “those guys absolutely nailed it”.
One of the greatest things about the videos and short films that these guys make is that they all have meaning, deep undertones and a level of comedy on a frequency that people who take life too seriously or who are too sensitive just aren’t receptive to, it’s invisible to them.
I got a chance to speak to Danny (one of the two twin brothers responsible for this uninhibited creative expression) and ask him a few questions.
If you are in anyway squeamish, sensitive to mock violence or don’t like bad language (life must really bother you a lot), then the videos may not be for you.
The first one of their videos that I watched:
Q) First off an introduction, could you give us a quick run through of the people most commonly involved in your films?
RackaRacka is run by me and my twin brother Michael, we both write, edit and direct everything together. So whenever I use the word “WE” in my responses, I’m not talking about my team, I’m talking about me and my clone. The only real constant recurring actor is our boy Timani, he’s our closest friend – he’s the ripped black guy. Timani was always the tubby kid we used to push around as kids but puberty hit him like a cycle of steroids and now he could kick the shit out of any single one of us
Q) It looks as though you and your friends have always been a really tightly knit bunch ever since you were kids. Have you guys always had extremely active and creative imaginations, and were you all on the same sort of wave length from the start?
To begin with, we sort of hated each other. We would always meet up and wrestle or have stick battles at the park. Our friendships sort of blossomed out of “boys will be boys” violence. My brother and I have always been creative in some sense, before we picked up the camera we would be drawing our own movie covers or acting out tv shows based on characters we had invented. Not all of our friends were necessarily creative but they were extremely active, so we met halfway.
Here’s a more in depth article about the horror that was our childhood – http://www.mtv.com/news/1891653/racka-racka-interview/
RackaRacka – Epic Childhood
Q) What were like during school and what was your experience of life in school like? Did you find it often restrictive and frustrating, and would you say that it was during school you really honed your ability to read people and how they’d react to certain things happening, in a sort of cause and effect type way?
Frustrating – yes, restrictive – depends on which school we’re talking about. At our first primary school we were both singled out by teachers for our learning abilities. We were divided from students and did alot of extra curricular classes and lessons. Tests revealed we had an unusually high IQ for our age. Life was pretty great at that school but we ended up having to move. We went from one school to another and then another. Somewhere during the process I stopped giving a shit about education and decided to rebel. I didn’t really care about learning and literally just wanted to have fun. We were problem children, every teacher knew us … I even got kicked out of an After School Care program.High school was the same story really, half the teachers loved us, the other half hated us. We got suspended alot … and I mean ALOT – it was always for things like making an inappropriate video, organizing a fake gang war on the oval, accidently flooding the Home Ec room, etc.
Q) When you’re choosing which things to parody and put your unique spin on, what are usually the deciding factors for you going with an idea? Does it take a while to put things together or is it case of you get so many ideas coming to you at once that you tend to just roll with things?
I’ve got a lot of ideas, they springboard at me everyday out of nowhere. I’ve got bookloads of jokes and lines of dialogues or cool shots I’d want to try and pull off – whenever I’m done with one video, I look through my list and see what’s next.
We want to build ourselves as film-makers so every RackaRacka video will have its own film-making challenge – it could be a practical effect or VFX challenge or a directing challenge . We want to learn something with every video we shoot, that way we’re more prepared when it comes to shooting something bigger such as a feature film or television series. RackaRacka is just for fun, its a training ground. We could be rich off the whole thing but we refuse to put ads on our videos so we’re not getting paid ANYTHING, its not about money.
Q) Do you think that a lot of people around the world have become overly sensitive to things and that this actually presents you with a great unique style of humour helping make it all the more effective?
Stirring the pot is a creative urge I have. We’ve got a pretty controversial video in the works that is going after racism. Every character in the video is an extreme stereotype of themselves. Most people are going to consider the video racist but if they stop and watch it properly they’ll discover its not. We think racism is so disgustingly pointless and ugly and our video is going to show that – in its own offensive ‘racist’ way.
Q) Leading on from that last question I’ve noticed that on some of your YouTube videos there are a few comments from people who clearly haven’t understood you and the style of humor you use. What do you think when you see those kinds of comments given that (speaking from my own personal experiences), getting reactions out of people and ‘testing the boundaries’ can be both funny and very insightful.
Yeah, I’m with you there – I sort of like offending people. I like pushing the limits with my videos and I like poking fun at things some people would find taboo.Everyone’s offended way too easy these days, you can’t say anything with offending somebody down the line. Everybody’s living with an unnecessary nanny-state mentality.
For me having grown up surrounded by some pretty horrific shit, I feel the need to poke fun at those topics. Things don’t seem so bad that way. Its passive aggressive in a way.
Because women get hit in my videos, I’m labelled a misogynist or because certain words are used we’re homophobic or racist – these people are missing the point. There’s shit-ton of black humor in our videos. There’s violence in my clips but its not real violence and it doesn’t glorify it either. It all just adds to the shock value which is critical with black comedy.
Harry Potter vs Star Wars
Q) With a few of your films videos (the Portal one, LOTR vs GOT, HP vs SW etc), it seems that you might have a bit of an ‘inner geek’ that you can really let run wild and express via your creations. With that said, what are some of your favorite movies and series in terms of the special effects and CGI used etc?
To be 100% honest, I’m not too big of a fan of CGI. I think its way too overused in film and television these days, although its so fucking expensive to use I still find it … cheap. I love practicality, with our portal video we tried to be as practical effect heavy as we were CG heavy. We built a fake floor for our actor to stand in for the ending scene and we fabricated a fake garage door to drive through – we also shattered a lot of tables and chairs.
Q) I love how you guys portray a lot of what most people will only ever play out in their minds. It must come with a certain satisfaction knowing that you’re giving the world something that most people wont dare to do, and certainly not as well as you do it?
That’s the beauty of it all, we’re exactly the same as we were when we were 10, only difference now is people can see the epic shit we’re acting out in our heads. A lot of our videos are based on the concept of imagination, like with our Table Tennis video, none of that stuff is actually happening in real life, it’s just what the characters pretend is happening. We cut away about halfway through to wide shot of no effects of color grade at all, it’s just us jumping around like idiots.
Table Tennis on drugs
Q) What kind of things do you watch for a great laugh? Any favourite comedians or film makers who you feel really nail a similar type of humour to yourselves?
I love the obvious inspirations, I love Sacha Baron Cohen and his dedication to every character he plays. I think Joan Rivers is so offensively funny, she will always say whatever the fuck is on her mind. South Park is another awesome example of creators not giving a shit if they tread on toes or cross the line. I like watching animated comedy more than live action though, they’re more capable of tackling black comedy as violently head than live action is.
Q) I’ve gotta ask, where did the idea to portray Ronald McDonald come from?
McDonalds. Every time I see their creepy mascot pinned up on the wall or in promotional photograph I can’t help but think “WTF? Who is this guy? What the does he do when he’s not smiling for the camera?” People see McDonalds as such a evil, monster of a corporation and I find it interesting that that’s the undertone of what comes across as a very bright, colorful and friendly place. I wanted Ronald’s parody character to be a metaphor of that.
Ronald, no matter how clinically insane he may be, has one outstanding quality. He’s loyal. He’s loyal to his brand, he’s loyal to his customers and if you shit-talk either one of them, you better start running.We’ve been trying so hard to make our audience hate Ronald but they won’t, no matter what he does, no matter how many women he shoots, no matter how many kids he kidnaps or how many people he beats to death they still love him and say “oh Ronald’s at it again”. God we love our audience!
Q) How receptive to everything you create are your family, and is it your mum who actively gets involved in the videos because I’m sure a lot of people think that’s awesome.
Most of my family are actively following everything I do now. It wasn’t always that way, a lot of people were cynical or would laugh at us for wanting to pursue a career path in film. That’s slowly changing. Dad used to throw a fit of rage when we’d destroy the house – but now when he comes home to a house that’s literally turned upside down he takes a photo and sends it to everybody at work. (Keep in mind that we do clean up and replace everything we break).
The active family following is a little annoying at times, it results in concerned phone calls from relatives saying “WTF are you doing?!” “Why did you say that?” “You don’t understand what you’re doing!”And no, that’s not my actual mother, its a friend’s mother. She’s pretty much the coolest and most raw women you’ll ever meet. For us she’s that cool aunty that the rest of the adults hate haha.
Q) How many household items and pieces of furniture have been harmed in the making of yours films?
Take whatever estimation you currently have in your head, times it by about ten and there you’ll have your answer
Q) Finally, there’s a lot of highlighting the over dramatization shown by a lot of people these days such as in the Facebook status video, the girl who’s been dumped etc. What would you say is the biggest underlying message behind your films/videos and your biggest aim in terms of what you want to achieve or give to the world?
We exaggerate everything, we exaggerate every emotion and situation. We’re lucky enough to not be raised in a third world country, our daily life ‘issues’ haven’t got shit on what’s going on over in any war ridden country, yet we still run around and sook about every stupid thing – Facebook statuses and getting dumped. Our underlying message is: STOP TAKING EVERYTHING SO FUCKING SERIOUSLY!
Check out all of the RackaRacka videos on the RackaRacka Youtube channel found HERE