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.
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.
Well hello, curious person! I’m glad that you’re interested in hearing about all of the Lifescouts badges that I’ve collected so far. I’ve included a little story about how I earned each one, but be warned: some of them aren’t super interesting. I’ll be quite impressed if you make it through this whole thing…
My most recent badge! I assume that if you’re reading this post then you’ve probably already seen my Skydiving video, but just in case you haven’t, I’ve popped it below. To sum up though: I jumped out of a plane and it was nice.
Visit the Empire State Building.
The first time that I ever went abroad without my family was on a trip to NYC back when I was 17. Although I wasn’t able to go up the Empire State Building at the time, I have still seen it in person! Spoiler alert: It’s quite tall.
Fly in a hot air balloon.
A friend of mine actually owns a hot air balloon, so I’ve been up in his lots of times! As a result I’ve also been part of his balloon’s crew, which is the team that set it up before it flies, follow it in the sky, and go to pick it up wherever it lands.
Learn to play the guitar.
The guitar that I use nowadays is actually the only one that I’ve ever owned – it was given me to my Dad years ago, and was his old one. This was also the first instrument that I learnt without taking lessons!
See the sunrise.
I’ve done this a bunch of times in my life just by virtue of having to be up really early in the past, although none of those occasions have have stories behind them that are really worth telling. The sun just came up and it was pretty.
See the Mona Lisa.
I saw it for the first time when I went to Paris back in 2011. I enjoyed the Louvre a lot, but the Mona Lisa was a bit hard to appreciate, given all the people surrounding it and the thick later of glass covering it…
Learn to skateboard.
Although I never learnt any tricks (not for lack of trying) I did skateboard a lot when I was younger, usually just to get from A to B. I never really skated at the skatepark either – I much preferred playing around on the board when nobody else was watching.
I did this back in October 2010 with Alex and made a video about it (which is below). I loved it to bits, the adrenalin rush was incredible, and the experience of doing it was definitely one of the main reasons that I wanted to try Skydiving.
Go on a picnic.
As with the sunrise badge, this is something that I’ve done many times in the past, but not something that I have any particularly interesting stories about. Mostly I’ve had picnics on the beach with my Dad, which probably means that I’ve eaten a large amount of sand in my lifetime…
Learn to swim.
I’ve no idea when I learnt to swim, but I’ve definitely done a LOT of swimming in my lifetime. I used to go every week back when I was in school, and I still do it pretty often nowadays too, although running is probably my preferred method of exercise nowadays.
I used to do this fairly often, I even had my own fishing rod! One time I remember in particular was when I didn’t catch anything, but my sister somehow caught enough fish to feed the whole family. They were super delicious, too…
See Big Ben.
When I was young, me and my family went on holiday to London (which is a very strange concept to me now that I live here) but that was the first time I ever saw Big Ben. Nowadays I see it pretty darn often, but always try to appreciate it when I walk by.
See the Eiffel Tower.
As with the Mona Lisa, I saw this for the first time on my trip to France back in 2011. I’ve now been up it twice, the second time being on my Contiki trip that I went on back in October. He’s some gif proof that I’ve been there:
Visit a zoo.
I’ve been to a few Zoos in my time (my memory says that Bristol Zoo was the coolest) but the one I’ve been to most often is Newquay zoo, which is the nearest one to where my Dad lives. I must have been there about 5 times…
Go horse riding.
I’ve done this a few times, although it’s only ever been a very tame version of horse riding – the kind where someone walks by the horse to guide it. I don’t remember being particularly enthralled by it. The horses were nice, though.
Hold a snake.
I actually had a brief phase recently when I decided that I wanted a snake, and so I went to go and hold a few at a reptile store. They’re lovely things, but I wasn’t taken enough buy them to actually purchase one, unfortunately.
Own a pet.
Technically I’ve done this – my parents had a cat called Lenin who they said was “my” cat, although I didn’t see him much because, when we moved house once, he refused to move with us and stayed with our grandparents instead.
And that’s all for now! If you want to know more about Lifescouts / would like to see the full list of badges so far, go here: lifescouts.com. Happy lives to you all.
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.
NB: I wrote this blog post a week or so ago, but due to the insanity that was VidCon, I completely forgot to put it up. Sozlol. Here it is anyway:
Even though I managed to throw all of my bad feelings from last week out of the window, I’ve successfully filled up the empty space that they created with a bunch of new annoyances that are making me feel like rubbish. I’m usually pretty good at not letting negative comments get to me, but after finally getting everything together and making a new video (above) I’ve been met with more disappointed faces than I’m used to. It sucks that I can’t make a video wanting to share something that I’m really, really proud of, without seeing a bunch of people telling me to shut up about my music and just make funny videos again. I know it’s not all of you, but the negative always sticks out more than the positive, and I can’t really help that.
However, I’m not here to whine at you about my YouTube woes. I’m here to cheer myself up by telling you about all of the nice things that have happened to me over the last couple of weeks, so lets do that. Firstly: I’m in America. And I quite like America, I do.
My now apparently annual excursion to the US started on the 7th when I arrived in what is easily the hottest state that I think I’ve visited so far, Georgia. Maybe it’s just my quaint, British temperature gauge, but my first words after stepping out of the airport were something along the lines of “It feels like I’m constantly standing next to a barbecue, or that I’m sitting in a sauna. Oh god, how hot are the actual saunas here?” They also have mosquitos, which is another new thing for me. I have discerned from these two things that Georgia is in fact Edward Cullen: Not only is it hot, but it also wants to suck my blood. Bracing the heat, I visited Atlanta and went to the Georgia aquarium, The World of Coke, The Bodies exhibit, and Dialogue in the Dark. All of which I’ll now go into more detail about.
The Georgia Aquarium is mostly just like any other aquarium that you’ve ever visited, with one notable exception: it’s the biggest one in the entire world. The largest tank has three whale sharks swimming around in it. Three whale sharks, guys. Three of the biggest fish in the entire world, right there in front of me. In the middle of Georgia, a state where there isn’t a single natural body of water anywhere, and there they were. The World of Coke is right next door, which was equally fascinating to me for a completely different reason. If you’ve never heard of TWOC, it’s basically the Coca Cola company’s attempt to do what little they can to turn their sugar water drink into entertainment. I like coke, but I have no idea what possessed the company to make anyone sit through a 6 minute animated musical about what happens inside of a vending machine, featuring some of the creepiest characters in existence (they didn’t have eyes). I loved every second of it, just not for their intended reasons.
The next two items might seem like sad things, but I can assure you that they are happy ones: I went blind for half an hour, and I saw a bunch of dead bodies. You might have heard of the Bodies exhibit before, but for the uninitiated, it’s essentially the best human biology lesson that you’ll ever get. The bodies of real men and women, who offered themselves up to education, have been sliced up and preserved so that you can find out what we’re really all like under our skin. I won’t post pictures, it’s something that you have to want to seek out, but I thought it was brilliant. It definitely gives you a heightened sense of awareness, one that’s encouraged me to try and take better care of myself.
Then, right next to the bodies exhibit I found this thing called Dialogue in the Dark, which basically gives you the opportunity to discover what it’s like to lose your sight. You’re given a cane, a brief lesson in how to use it, and then you’re directed around pitch black rooms by a tour guide (who’s an actual blind person). It was one of the strangest and most enlightening experiences I’ve ever had, and I feel confident now that, the next time I see or meet a blind person, I’ll be to understand them much better. Being blind is really, really hard by the way. I was the one who accidentally stepped into the road and got run over by a car when we were crossing the road.
As you might have gathered from my latest video however, I’m currently in the company of Chameleon Circuit, and not in Georgia anymore, but in California. I’m here for the rest of the month in the build up to VidCon, which I’m speaking at and at which Chameleon Circuit are playing. Needless to say that I’m not ready for any of these things yet, the talk, the gig, or VidCon itself. But hey, I’m in California, with my friends, making videos and playing music. Any moaning from this point onwards isn’t really very justified. Ok. Feeling better now. Hopefully the next time I speak to you all, I won’t be trying to perk myself up!
I’m feeling slightly stressed out. Last week I tried and failed to make a new video on two separate occasions, so I’ve decided to write a couple of blog posts about some nice things in an attempt to cheer myself up. This is the first of those blog posts.
To start us off, the big project that my fellow band members and I have been gradually chipping away at for the last however-longer-it’s-been has finally been released out into the world. Still Got Legs is no longer mine, or any of the other band member’s, but yours. I’m so proud of it, more than any musical project that I’ve ever been involved in, and I really hope you like it too. Though if you don’t then that’s obviously fine.
To everyone who pre-ordered a copy of the physical CD it’s on it’s way to you now, and if you check your email inbox now then you should also find a free digital download of the album so that you can pop it onto your computer right away. For everyone else, physical copies are still available at DFTBA.com (you’ll get a free digital download there too) or you can just go over to iTunes if that’s your thing. Lastly, like with my solo album, if you’re on the fence and would like to try before you buy then whole album is streaming for free over at bandcamp.com
However, the news of the album being out isn’t the only thing that’s cheering me up. Alan (DFTBA’s head honcho) posted these photos on his dailybooth recently that made me smile from ear to ear, one with the CD and poster insert (oh, and there’s a T-Shirt too) and another with all of the boxed up pre-orders ready for shipping. I think the second photo is especially brilliant, as it’s hard evidence of the fact that this is actually all happening for real. It’s so strange to have something that you’ve been hiding from the world for months to finally be in the hands of others, but so heartwarming too.
Check out those legs aw yeah
Oh, and there’s also this thing where (at time of writing) we’re number 4 in the iTunes rock charts, and number 50 overall. Thank you so much to all of the people who have commented/tweeted/emailed me and the others passing on your reactions to the CD, and to those who’ve already purchased a copy of it. You’ve made this whole thing so much more than worth it, and it’s so cool that we can achieve this kind of thing on our own, without any help from the mainstream music industry. Your support has been amazing, thank you a hundred times for making this happen.I can’t wait to play all of these songs live at VidCon.
I’m definitely feeling happier. But there’s more to come.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a mixing room listening to Kiss The Girl blast at me through a huge pair of speakers, and I’m watching Michael and our mixer, Trevor, make the final tweaks to the album that we’ve been working on for about five months: Still Got Legs. We’re finally getting to a point now where this project is almost done, and I’m pretty darn happy, mainly because this is an experience that I’ve never actually had with a Chameleon Circuit album before.
Back in 2008, when we were in the process of recording the first CC album, I took a three-hour trip to the producer’s house (who I won’t name and shame here) so that I could record the vocals on my final song, Friends Of The Ood. When I turned up, however, I was given the files of everything that we’d done on the album up to that point and was politely told to go away. The producer didn’t want to finish it for us, and so it just never got finished. After months of trying to find someone new who could help us out, we were eventually forced to release the music uncompleted. I’m sure that we would have been inspired to make a second album at some point, but the urge to make the most decent Chameleon Circuit album that we could, one which we didn’t have any regrets about and more importantly one that was actually finished was definitely the kick-starter for this CD.
Still Got Legs has had its fair share of producer related problems, though just with a different twist. A lot of you have probably already heard about Michael’s forced vacation to France, but to sum it up: Michael, who came over from the US to produce this second album, got stuck in France for two months due to reasons that we’re all still a little unsure about. Basically, the people at the border just didn’t like him very much and initially wouldn’t let him back into the UK, and so production of the album was moved to Paris for a month. It was nice of them to eventually let him back in, though, even if it was just for a week so that he could wrap things up here. I guess it’s our own fault really that Chameleon Circuit is cursed; we just had to name our band after the one part of the TARDIS that didn’t work properly…
Regardless of all the obstacles that were put in our way this time, though, we’re almost there. On June 3rd and 4th we had a couple of listening events where people could come and hear the album in its current state. “The last album was a great album about Doctor Who” someone said “but this is just a great album in its own right.” This comment made me really happy, and I do hope that the rest of you feel the same way if you decide to get a copy. The physical CD is currently up for pre-order (you can get it here) and it’ll be released there and on iTunes etc. on July 12th. Also, here’s the album artwork and track-list; just click on it to make it bigger:
Dude it's so pretty looking
One thing that I should mention, something that I’ve seen a fair few people bring up, is Doctor What‘s absence from the album. Unfortunately, this was one of the later songs that went through production, and we didn’t really feel like we could find a good place for it on the CD simply because it was too different from the other tracks. The choice was either to release a bastardised version of it to force it onto the album, or to release the song later and give it the treatment it deserves. It’ll be available at some point, but in the meantime you’re obviously welcome to listen to the version on YouTube as much as you like.
By the way, to the people who are nice enough to actually read this blog: sorry for neglecting you recently. As you can probably tell from the fact that my last video took me two and a half weeks to get up, I’ve been pretty busy recently and have had trouble maintaining all of my online spaces. I’ll try to be better. Over the last couple of months I started to convince myself that I wasn’t updating my blog because I didn’t really like writing blog posts, but I have actually quite enjoyed putting this one together. So, you know, maybe I’ll make a written comeback now. Maybe being the key word in that sentence.