A couple days ago we introduced you to Danny Philippou of Adelaide, South Australia, who compiled a bunch of VHS footage from his “Epic Childhood” of fights (and insanely dangerous stunts) with his friends and brother:
It’s been viewed 120,000 times in two days, but it’s not Philippou’s first YouTube success. Now 21 years old, he’s the creative mind behind The RackaRacka, an Aussie film team — featuring many of the grown-up “Epic Childhood” crew — who combine martial arts, special effects and sick-as-hell NSFW comedy into massively viral online videos. We reached out by email to learn more about his lifelong talent for creating and recording mayhem.
WARNING: The below videos are NSFW due to violence and language.
The top question on Reddit was, “Were there adults within a five mile radius of them ever?” So, did your parents know about any of this?
Everyone’s parents knew we had a ring in the backyard and that we were wrestling on the weekends. They all thought it was just 12-year-old boys being cute…little did they know!
My dad works six days a week and would never get home until after 6 p.m. That left us with a lot of time to play. My grandfather would interrupt when he saw things going too far, but he passed away when we were quite young (RIP) and s–t really went down after that.
What’s the worst injury any of you suffered?
We were pretty lucky to escape with just cuts and bruises, but with that being said, my brother did break an arm at one point, another friend broke a collarbone and another needed stitches — sounds bad, but after the 90 episodes we filmed, I’d say that’s a pretty good casualty list. That video only shows our activities between the ages of 11 and 12. We continued wrestling from 13 through 16. I’ve got much more shocking footage than the stuff shown in that video, let me tell you!
(We asked Danny’s brother Michael for his bone-shattering story: “I was up on a ladder and a friend was thrown into it. I didn’t see him coming and the ladder was pushed from under me. I was falling headfirst but managed to put my arm up just in time and I fell on that.”)
Were you roughhousing like this every day, or was it just an occasional thing?
Well, we beat the s–t out of each other every day…still do.
We had a taped PCW [Pro Championship Wrestling Australia] event every Saturday. During the week we would get together and practice our matches. Outside of wrestling, we were still roaming the streets, play fighting and making movies too.
When we were 13 we lost a bit of interest in wrestling and started making our own “TV show.” It was called “Timuffy.” It ran for 96 heart-stopping episodes and five cinema-changing movies. It became a much more productive and creative way to channel our AD-octriple-HD energies.
Were you inspired at all by “Jackass” or WWE or just your own imaginations?
Never “Jackass.” We didn’t really discover “Jackass” until our late teens. Most of the wrestling stuff was inspired by watching WWE.
Did you have your own wrestling characters, identities, back stories, etc.?
Sure did, we had storylines, characters, contracts. There was always four episodes and then a “pay per view” at the end of the month. I played “CEO Jacob,” “Hillbilly Joe,” and “Hardcore.” Very interesting, three-dimensional characters. There was also “Headache,” “Nipple-Crippler,” “Red Punisher,” “Thundertaker” and “Quaterpounder.”
On occasion there was the odd appearance from “Leonard Baker,” a monstrous troll who would attempt to eat all the wrestlers to protect his wife, who was half-frog. Deep stuff.
Was the “Epic Childhood” footage just sitting on a camcorder for 12 years until this week?
I cut a lot of it together last year for a short film we wrote. I wanted to use it as a “mood reel” of sorts, help set the tone for what I wanted to shoot. We didn’t end up getting any funding — I think the financiers were more shocked than they were inspired by the footage. I ended up just using it for a video to show at my 21st.
Do kids in Australia still have childhoods like this, or has it become a “don’t play outside, take some Ritalin, here’s your iPad” parenting attitude like here in the U.S.?
I very much doubt it. A lot of kids are being raised with a nanny-state mentality. Childhood seems to be all about Facebook…and video games now. Kids I know have set “social events,” they’re not out every day making their own fun. Its sort of depressing. You’re only young once — shut your laptop, go outside, get dirty and MAKE SOME MEMORIES!!
“Get into trouble, for crying out loud!” There’s my “Sandlot” influenced bad advice for the day. What are you gonna talk about when you’re 30? The time your selfie got 100 likes — or the time you and all your friends snuck out to trek the storm drain tunnels beneath the city?
Do you still jump off roofs and kick each other’s asses for fun as adults?
It never stopped. If you’ve seen any of our RackaRacka videos, you’ll see we’re pretty much exactly the same as we were. It’s all just a little more safe now (only a little bit).
How many of the “Epic Childhood” guys are involved in RackaRacka? How’d they react to seeing it?
Pretty much everybody in that video has been involved with RackaRacka at some point. I’m still close friends with all of them. Dey ma homies, yo! We’ve got a pretty massive library of homemade movies that we watch on occasion, so everyone’s pretty used to the violence. Everyone was more nostalgic than shocked by the video.
How did you get started with these? Have they gotten you any work w/ professional film companies? Which one was the first to go viral?
I first started uploading to Facebook only, I did a couple of “fake fails” for fun. A couple of vids went viral and all my stuff was getting stolen from me and reuploaded to Youtube. A few months later I started taking it all more seriously and decided to open RackaRacka.
Are you self-taught w/ the special effects stuff, or did you go to school for it?
The VFX & special FX are all self-taught. We’ve been making our own stuff for years and years and even more years, just picked it up as we went along. We always try to be as practical as possible with our videos, so if you see an explosion in one of our videos, chance is it’s a real explosion. We love integrating practical effects with visual ones — it makes everything look twice as good.
Have you gotten any interest or offers from Hollywood?
The videos have generated quite a bit of interest around the world and locally, too. We have production companies interested in working with us, we’re just waiting for the right project and the right people to come along.
Why do you think people are responding to “Epic Childhood” so positively?
I guess it’s just a fun, interesting thing to watch. Nostalgic for my fellow bogans, a little scary for in-a-bubble-raised kids, shocking for the middle-aged women. It’s very “Lord of the Flies”-esque.