From lab rats to online superstars: The twins behind RackaRacka

How the Australian twins behind RackaRacka went from doing medical drug trials to fund their videos to becoming YouTube stars

• How the Australian twins behind RackaRacka went from doing medical drug trials to fund their videos to becoming YouTube stars

Despite being among the biggest YouTubers in Australia, Adelaide-based twins Danny and Michael Philippou want to be called “wannabe filmmakers”.

The two minds behind the YouTube channel RackaRacka are known for their at-times-gruesome action videos.

“When we started doing violent videos there was a bit of a hurdle. Google would always remove them saying they’re too full on, and they wouldn’t let us upload them,” Danny Philippou told Mediaweek in a phone conversation.

The hurdle was overcome by uploading the content with an age restriction of 18+.

RackaRacka currently has over 2.6 million subscribers. Their videos have racked up more than 310 million views since they joined in 2013.

Initially the twins’ content found fame on Facebook, Philippou revealed.

“We were just uploading stuff to Facebook originally like fun sketch videos. They kept on going really viral and ending up on massive TV shows like Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel. Everyone kept on using them and re-uploading without knowing where they came from.”

The duo were against YouTube to begin with, he said. They then created the channel as a back-up for the videos they were uploading on Facebook. Basic YouTube policy meant that copyright laws protected their videos.

“What we did at the beginning was very quick and very fun,” Philippou said about the quality of their videos.

“We’ve shot up our production values now…There is special effects makeup, visual effects helpers, and the team is just bigger.”

Talking about how long it takes to plan, produce, package, then upload the videos, Philippou said: “Some videos can take a month, and some videos we can shoot and upload within a week. It all depends on the video and the project.”

In 2015, Screen Australia announced it would fund a three-part web series from RackaRacka called Versus. The brothers will write and direct the series, which will be produced by Julie Byrne from Triptych. The funding was given through the body’s Multiplatform Drama Program.

“We’ve got development funding from Screen Australia to work with a production company to keep developing ideas. Our feature film just got more development money, so we are able to fund the writing process.

“We are in the process of writing the script.

“We are also working on two series at the moment. At this time we are unsure about if they are going to be on web or TV – there is interest from both sides of the media. Then there is the feature film, which we want to release in a traditional way. The dream date to start shooting [for the feature film] is at the beginning of next year, to release at the end of next year.”

Advertising with RackaRacka

The twins derive income from their work on YouTube in two ways: Ad inserts before and during video playback, and brand placements.

They have some control over the first option, in which a Google algorithm places the ads.

“Google lets you select what sorts of ads you want to put on there,” Danny Philippou explained. “You can allow for it to play anything on there, or you can be selective, and say I don’t want this or that. For example, you can select, ‘I don’t want cakes to be [advertised before my video],” he chuckled.

“For brand builds, the brands will come directly to us or our manager. They will offer us a proposal saying, ‘We have this much money and we want you to do this. Can you feature or promote the product like this?’

“We dictate the entire thing. We’ll say what we want to do and what we don’t want to do. We are the ones who write the idea for their product.

“We probably get four to five offers every three days,” Philippou revealed.

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