Hi, I'm Charlie McDonnell: Video-Blogger, musician, and nerd. Have a poke around this website using the navigation bar at the top, or catch up with what I'm up to at the moment with my written blog, which you'll find below.
… and that’s the trailer for my new short film, Strangers In A Bed. Appearing in your YouTubes on the 11th of August. If you are as excited to watch it as I am nervous to show it to you then I think it’s going to do REALLY well.
But oh, you say you’d like to see the finished film a day before it’s released? And you also happen to be going to Summer In The City? Well, then aren’t you in a certain amount of luck! At 12pm on Sunday in the Palace Suite I’ll be screening the film, and then afterwards I’ll be joined by Jack Howard (Ali), Emily Diana Ruth (Producer) and Ciaran O’Brien (Cinematographer) for a Q&A. So, I very much hope to see you there!
I’ll also be doing a signing on the Sunday at 5:30pm – 8:30pm in signing line 4, so if you’re into that sort of thing then please do come along then as I might not have enough time for hellos at the screening.
If you’re attending VidCon this year and have any interest in seeing my face there, or you wish to avoid me at all costs, let this be your comprehensive guide. Please print it out, laminate it, put it in it’s own special satchel, tie that around your leg, and then commit it to memory too just in case it gets stolen. And yes, I will be checking your legs.
Photos | 1:00pm to 5:00pm | Hall B
New for VidCon this year, I’ll be putting my smiling muscles through their paces while I attempt to stand up for four hours taking pictures with anyone who wants them. Be warned though: I’ve been bitten to death by mosquitos on my recent Canada trip, so unless my bite marks heal in time I may look a little like a spotty teenager in the pictures. I’ll be joined for this by my usual cohorts Liam Dryden and Michael Aranda should you want to get pictures with them too! Also, think of your favourite animal in advance and I promise to try and pose like it for the photo.
New! Upping Our Game: YouTubers and High Production Values | 9:30am to 10:30am | Room 204
Jack Harries just asked me to be on this panel alongside Finn Harries, Tim H, Ciaran O’Brien and Benjamin Cook. This is the only panel (other than my screening) where I actually know everyone on it already, so I’ll probably be a little more comfortable actually talking. And unless Jack can keep us in check, please expect tangents galore.
Signing | 1:00pm to 3:00pm | Hall B
This one’s the more traditional singing affair where I’ll, you know, write on things for you. Posters, CDs, T-Shirts, and maybe even modest areas of skin (if I’m feeling brave). Michael Aranda will be around for this one too, so this’ll be a great opportunity to see just how much more impressive his signature is than mine.
New! Dunk Tank for The Thirst Project | 4:00pm to 5:00pm | Expo Hall
Honestly VidCon asked me to do this about a week ago, but I’ve finally given in and will now be your helpless fodder for the DUNK TANK in the Expo Hall. Pay $1 to throw a ball and try to dunk me into “tiny bit cold” water for your amusement, and hopefully mine too. All money raised goes to The Thirst Project, a charity who uses all donations to build freshwater wells on the ground for people who need them.
Telling A Story: Fiction in Online Video | 9:30am to 10:30am | Room 206 Charlie’s Epic Non-Stop Panel Day begins! This first one’s about making narrative content online, moderated by Jenni Powell, where I’ll be sitting alongside Benny Fine, Tony Valenzuela and Joey Graceffa while they talk and I sit quietly until someone makes a comment about how I haven’t said anything yet.
Strangers In A Bed Screening and Q&A | 11:00am to 12:00pm | Room 210
Then it’s onto the screening of my new short film! Afterwards I’ll also be bringing up some of the people who helped me make it: Emily Diana Ruth, Ciaran O’Brien and Michael Aranda, and you can ask us anything you like about it. Disclaimer: Unlike my last two films, this one isn’t PG. It’s got some strong language in it (ooh-er) so best to guide young ears away. FYI: This one’s just called “Q&A – Charlie McDonnell” in the guide.
Intro to Making Video Look Good | 12:30pm to 1:30pm | Room 207
This one will be moderated by the seemingly ever present Michael Aranda, and I’ll be joined by Brandon Laatsch, Tessa Violet, Zach Blume, Hannah Hindi and Hilly Hindi. A lot of these people are much better at making pretty things than me so I’m assuming they won’t mind me staying quiet on this one.
INTERMIX Screening and Panel | 3:30pm to 5:00pm | Room 209
The big finish! Intermix is a bit longer than the other panels because we’ve got lots and lots of great short films to show you. At 4:30pm, after the screening is done, I’ll bring out some of the filmmakers: Tim H, Yulin Kuang, Jeanette Bonds and (New Panelist!) Jack Harries, and I’ll try moderating a panel myself for the first time ever. Emily might pop up to say hello, too.
I will sleep in until 4pm at which point I will run around Los Angeles with Emily attempting to eat as much Mexican food as possible.
So,Emily Diana Ruthand I have been planning a little something forVidConthis year that we’re pretty excited about. We’re both filmmakers, and we wanted to do our bit to try and help bring that world to the convention. Our solution: A screening and panel for all filmmakers who have work that is available to watch online!
We’re calling it “INTERMIX,” not just ’cause it’s snappy and looks great in all caps, but because we want this event to be an opportunity to bring in filmmakers from varied backgrounds: Those with millions of views, those with just a couple, those who’ve started filmmaking off the back of a YouTube career, or those who’ve been to film school and have never watched a vlog in their life, but decided that the internet was the best place to put their work.
Emily and I are planning the event (mostly Emily, let’s be honest), I’ll be moderating the panel, and and the screening will be programmed by Chloe Trayner who already has a ton of experience working in the film festival world.
Our plan is to screen our favourite films from all over the internet, and then talk to the creators about their passion for filmmaking, how the internet has played a part in that, and how online distribution and easy access to equipment is changing the face of the film industry. You’re welcome either to just submit a film to be screened, or if you’ll be at VidCon this year or are nearby and able to make it there, we’d love to have you talk on the panel too.
Deadline for submissions is June 1st, which is soon you know, so please submit your work ASAP using the link below. Thanks a lot, and I hope to see you/some of your films there!
For those that haven’t heard yet, we’ve had some pretty unsettling news appear out of a section of our community recently. Many people, including some friends of mine, have come forward to say that they were emotionally manipulated and in some cases sexually abused by certain members of the YouTube community. Some of these posts were proved to be false accounts, while others appear to be more valid. The full story of this issue constitutes a relatively complex web of posts on tumblr which is growing day by day, and I’ll leave it up to you to figure out how to delve into that rabbit hole should you decide to.
Normally I wouldn’t want to get involved in a conversation like this, but given that some of the accused parties are people that I know personally and have worked with in the past, I don’t feel like I can stay silent this time. However, I’m also worried about getting too specific, as the frustrating reality is that I just can’t know for sure what’s actually happened. As much as I wish I could know the truth, I have just the same information as everyone else and so all I can do is make assumptions based on that.
Alex Day, one of the accused, has been a friend and housemate of mine for the last seven years, and during the period that I lived with Alex I did become aware of instances in which he’d cheated on his girlfriends. While this did make me very uncomfortable, the major regret I have about our relationship as friends is that I feel I was too lenient with him about what he was doing. We talked a few times about his cheating, and I let him know that it was something I disapproved of, but ultimately I left any further decisions up to him. I’m ashamed of this, in hindsight. I had urges to talk to his girlfriends about what was going on, but I never found the courage to do it personally. I didn’t want to spoil mine and Alex’s friendship, or our living situation, and so I let it slide. I never want to be that person again.
But please let me be clear: In the time that I knew Alex, I never had any notion that the girls he was with were anything other than happily consenting to being with him. The idea that anything contrary to that was going on behind closed doors makes me incredibly unhappy, and with that, I just don’t feel able to call Alex a friend of mine anymore. Simply put, I don’t know if I can trust him. I feel this same way about other past-friends of mine who have been accused.
Even though I have not been wronged personally by any of this, I feel so sad and angry and confused and drained by the whole situation. I know that many of the people I’m close to as well as many of you reading this undoubtably feel the same. I do urge you to spend time with close friends and family now if you can – I know that’s been helping me a lot. Also, if it’s ok, I don’t really want to talk about these issues outside of this post, at least for the time being. I desperately want to think about something else right now.
To those who came forward with the accusations about sexual abuse and manipulation recently, I have a massive amount of respect for you. I can’t imagine the bravery that it must have taken, and I’m glad that some of you found the strength to speak out because of others doing the same. I still do not feel a real sense of closure from all of this, and I’m sure that feeling must be vastly worse for you right now. I really do hope the resolution that you deserve comes soon.
On a related but entirely coincidental note, I have recently been working with the Home Office on their In The Know campaign, which is making an effort to inform young people about relationships, consent, sexual abuse and rape. More info here. I’ve been working on this project since January, and I’ll be uploading a video to my channel about Sex & Consent within the week as part of it. Also, if you need any help or information with issues related to sexual abuse, visit This Is Abuse if you’re in the UK, RAINN if you’re in the US, and they also have a list of international resources here.
Good news! I have collected all of the necessary information that you will need to successfully find/avoid me at VidCon this year. If you aren’t attending VidCon, please leave now or you run the risk of making yourself quite bored.
Industry day! And I’m finally going to be on some panels. Come and see me give frank and unpopular opinions about Networks and living in Los Angeles, and then slowly realise that I have no idea what I’m talking about, at which point I’ll stop saying anything at all. It’ll be a hoot.
1:30pm – 2:15pm – Networks, Independents, and everything in between – Room 202AB 3:30pm – 4:15pm – Is Digital Really the Great Equaliser? – Room 202AB
This one’s probably my busiest day. I’ll be signing at the kissing booths all morning, and then instead of doing anything on the main stage this year, at my Meet-Up I’ll be doing a screening of my first short film The Tea Chronicles, as well as *hopefully* sharing something from my next short (no promises). Then, I’ll answer any questions that you might have for me! I’d mostly like to talk about the films that I’m making but, you know, I can’t force you not to ask me what my favourite colour is for the 4th year in a row either.
9am – 12:00 noon – Signing – Expo hall 12:30pm – 1:30pm – Meet-Up: Special Screening – Room 204 ABC
Last day, and more signing! Like last year, I’m trying to make myself as available as possible so that, if you’d like to say hi, you have the opportunity to do so. However, I’m cutting down the total amount of signing from 13 hours to 6 and an half, just in an attempt to save my sanity. Hopefully that’s understandable.
9am – 12:30pm – Signing – Expo hall
I will disappear into the wind on a tea leaf, back to mother England.
So, I’ve a bit of sad news for you today. Me and Bryarly broke up.
The reason? Pretty simple really, and exactly the one that you’d expect too: distance. Everyone talks about how hard long distance relationships are to maintain, and although we certainly had a good crack at ours, in the end it just became too difficult for the both of us.
As far as breakups go, ours was just as rational as it was emotional, it was very carefully considered, and we ended on very good terms too. Both of us just wanted the best for each other, and I’m honestly very proud of how we handled the whole thing. It was intense, so naturally we weren’t able to revert to being best-buddies instantly, but I’ve high hopes that we’ll remain close friends in the future. Which, yes, is the kind of thing that you’re meant to say in these situations, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
After making our relationship public, Bryarly and I were pretty overwhelmed with how lovely you were about the whole thing. We were both braced for hate, and instead we got support. With that, my hope is that you’ll be considerate enough to do the same with this news. Relationships are delicate things, and the decision to make ours public was always going to be a risk. Obviously I can’t stop you from taking sides, or making assumptions, or reading into things – it’s all natural human curiosity. All I ask is that you keep those thoughts to private conversations, not public posts (I’m looking at you, Tumblr) and that you give us the space to move on so that we don’t have to feel any worse about what we’ve already been through.
Thanks a lot for reading. Here’s to the future and all that :) And if you’d like to read Bryarly’s POV on this, she wrote her own blog post which you can read here.
Uploading this video was one of the most frightening things I’ve ever done in my life. And I jumped off a crane once so, you know, that’s probably a big deal. You really do feel like you’re taking a big risk when you open up about yourself and how you’re feeling, so I’m hugely pleased to find that this particular risk seems to have payed off, and that it was in fact probably the best thing that I could have done for myself right now.
Given the overwhelming amount of encouraging emails, tweets, texts and video responses that I’ve received recently from friends, family and those of you who I don’t know personally, I should be feeling on top of the world right now. And, I am! … Almost. On one hand, I feel more confident about myself and my ability to create good things than I have done in a long, long time, but on the other hand, it seems as though this isn’t the kind of fear that I can just switch off. I still feel a bit vulnerable, and worried, but I’m much more in control of it now. That, and I also feel ready to get through it. I can see the other side, and undoubtably the thing that’s helped me the most has been your support.
Honestly, I think it was the video responses that got to me the most. For me, this experience has been a stark reminder of how powerful Video Blogging can be. It’s easy to see Vlogging as being the lazy man’s version of creating for YouTube, because when compared to putting together a sketch or an animation for example, Vlogging is vastly easier in terms of time and production. But I think there’s something incredibly important about the real connection that you can make when you just talk directly into a camera and decide to share it with the world. I was so incredibly pleased to see so many faces, to hear that we’re all going through this struggle together, and to be reminded of how terribly UN-frightening you all actually are!
With that, I wanted to share just a very small handful of the videos that I received. These ones in particular are those that had the biggest impact on me when I watched them – those with really important messages embedded in them that really allowed me take big steps towards getting back on track. I hope you can take the time to watch them, and that if you’re feeling scared too, that they might help you as much as they’ve helped me.
See you in my next video. I’m sure you won’t have to wait quite as long, this time :)
This video was REALLY fun to make. I like being detailed, even if I know that most of the details that I include might go unnoticed, it’s still fun to include them in the hope that they’ll add to the authenticity of the overall video. Now that I’m all done with this project, I thought I’d mention some of the neat things I did to end up with the finished product.
Firstly, if you see a shot with Evil Charlie in it, that shot has been mirrored in post. And that’s pretty much as far as the visual effects go in this video. I knew that I wanted everything about him to be the wrong way round: His mole, the direction his fringe goes in, his wall of stuff, his computer etc. But that also meant that if I knew there was going to be text/an image on the screen during any of Evil Charlie’s parts, I had to make sure it was in reverse. That way, when I reversed all of Evil Charlie’s shots later, everything would look like it was the right way round. My first port of call was to go to a T-Shirt printers and get these guys made:
My new Pogo Shirts, in person.
Needless to say, the guy who printed these for me was a bit confused when I said “You see how these designs are the wrong way round? That’s how I want them”. The red shirt is obviously the one that I needed for Evil Charlie, but I also got the mirrored No Pogo shirt for my friend Bing to wear when he was sitting in the background pretending to be an unconscious Good Charlie. You can hardly even see the flipped No Pogo shirt in the video, and although it probably would have been fine if I’d just given him my normal non-flipped shirt, I wanted to make sure I was covered, just in case. Next up, my alternate wall of stuff:
The bits and bobs that I made for the Wall of Evil Stuff
As you can see, I didn’t go mad and recreate every single item on my wall, but what I did do was pick the ones which looked like they might be easily visible on screen and recreate those. Some of them are in the video (mainly the “Evil Alex and Charlie Evil Format” and the “Win”) but most go unnoticed. Again, I don’t really mind that – I think it was better to be safe and have them just in case they did end up visible on camera. After the wall was finished, all I had to do was add the evil fairy lights, cover one of my video lights with some red tissue paper to give the room an evil red tint, and voilà!
Evil Charlie's Office! Woo
So there you go. Hopefully someone who isn’t me will find all of this stuff interesting :) By the way, if you’re up for seeing a little more behind-the-scenes footage, Bing included some clips in a video that he made on the day, which you can see here. Thanks and bye and things!
What the hell’s this song about, then? Although reading all the different the interpretations has been fun for me, I thought it’d be worth setting the record straight. After all, I wouldn’t want people to make assumptions about me based on something which is, ultimately, a work of fiction. Firstly though, here’s a list of things that the song isn’t about:
It’s not about me wanting to leave YouTube.
It’s not about a girl that I like.
It’s not about Community Channel. (Though I wish that she made videos more often too!)
“Time To Reply” is from the perspective of a fan. It’s not from the perspective of someone who watches me specifically, but instead from the point of view a made-up person who experiences a one-way relationship with someone that they find, come to admire and idolise, and then eventually get bored of as time goes by. So basically it’s a bit like Eminem’s “Stan” but with less craziness and murder. Maybe that’s why there have been so many different interpretations of it, because it’s not about anyone in particular, and as such it’s open for people to make up their own minds about what might be going on.
Even though the song isn’t about me, all of the lyrics are based on actual things that people have sent me over the years. The majority of people won’t email me when they decide to unsubscribe, but I thought it’d be more interesting to end on a sad note. A “I found you, I really liked you for a while, and I still quite like you!” song just wouldn’t have had the same effect, even though that’s probably closer to most people’s experiences with this kind of stuff. I know that’s how things tend to play out for me with the people that I follow and admire.
So basically, don’t worry! I still really love YouTube, and making videos, I definitely don’t want to stop, and I’m sorry that my song made some of you assume that wasn’t the case. I want to spend my life making stuff, films specifically, and YouTube is the perfect playground for me to practice that. This song, for example, was actually an example of me trying to hone my story-writing skills, and what I’ve learnt is that I might need to improve the communication aspect of my storytelling a bit! So thanks for teaching me that :)
When I first had the idea for this music video, I quickly dismissed it as being way too ambitious a concept to ever pull off. There was a good chunk of stuff of which I had no clue how to accomplish on my own: gun effects, good zombie make-up, making Alex fly around like a super-hero … it was all going to be too hard, too much of a jump from everything I’d done previously, and there was no guarantee that it was actually going to be any good either. However, after week of failing to think of anything better to do in it’s place, I just decided to go for it. And not only that, but apparently I actually finished the thing too.
Here’s what I learned during the process of making this video: if your ideas seem like they might be too farfetched to make a reality, just try to make them a reality anyway. A big part of this is finding people who are more talented than you and getting them involved. We were a relatively small crew compared to the size normally needed to get something like this made, but as someone who usually does everything on my own when it comes to making videos, this felt like a scarily massive production. But this is how you learn new things, pushing yourself to places that you’ve never been before.
Watching this video back now, there are things that I’d do differently with hindsight. It’s not my perfect Forever Yours music video. But I wouldn’t know what to change about it if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve gone though the whole process and actually come out with something watchable on the other side. And because it is too late to alter anything now (I promise never to pull a George Lucas on you all) the best I can do is take all the things I’ve learnt, apply them to my next big project, and then hopefully keep on progressing from there.
This was a hard one, and I won’t be able to make anything of this style for a while (I’m no freddiew). But I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who’s watched it, liked it, left a nice comment, shared it and all that lovely stuff. I mean, I’m always happy when you do that with any video of mine, but seeing the reaction to this one has been a particular joy due to all of the hard work that went into it. You’re awesome, and made all the stress of film-making worth it in the end.
The Zombies on their break in Nandos (Photo by Scott Jackson)
Ready for an influx of hyper-links? People who helped make this happen: Alex Day, who wrote the song (which you can get on iTunes, by the way) and for putting up with me when I told him to lie in front of a cardboard grave so that I could cover his face with leaves. Emma Duke, for acting too well, and who’s totally our music video “girl” forever and ever now. Toby Dale, who did the majority of the special effects for the video, helped me a lot with all of the ones that I did, and for just being the loveliest guy to have around. Ciaran O’Brien, for being the mastermind behind the camera and an absolute joy to direct. Adam Hickey, for all of the brilliant zombie make up – the crux of this video wouldn’t have been possible at all without you. Scott Jackson, for helping Adam with the make up and for all of the awesome behind the scenes photos. And finally, Lex Croucher, Kayley Hyde, Myles Dyer, Becky Smith, and Toby Dale (again!) for allowing me take you all to Zombie school and back – you were all positively disgusting.