It used to be that films and TV shows inspired online content, now it’s online content that is inspiring film and TV. There is no better example than YouTube stars Joe Sugg and Caspar Lee, who between them, have received more one billion YouTube views, and have now signed on with BBC Worldwide’s in their first collaboration with YouTubers.
In their second outing on the more traditional (TV) screen, “Joe and Caspar: Hit the Road USA” sees the pair take on five challenges as they road trip across the USA. On the eve of the film’s release and their Australian tour, Mandy spoke with them about the dangers of spicy food, the transition from being a solo operator to a big production, and how does Joe get his hair like that…
I’m impressed you guys came back to Australia because last time I saw you went on The Today Show and the interview ended with Karl caressing your heads…I don’t know if that happens to you in other countries?
Joe: Oh yeah I remember that! There is a lot of talk about my hair actually. I do get a lot of questions about it. In our live show we have a Q&A section and I’ve been asked a few times, ‘Joe, here’s a question for you, how do you do your hair?’. I don’t really know. I wake up and…yeah.
So you ate a lot of food on this trip, and some of it did look like it caused a bit of discomfort – was it as uncomfortable as it looked?
Caspar: Oh it was way worse. We had to deal with the aftermath. It’s been more than six months and I still haven’t got rid of that burger. And worse than the big food was the hot food, you’re basically poisoning yourself. The wings – my stomach isn’t the strongest. The next day we went on the plane and that night I was shivering on the floor…you don’t want to go on a flight when you’re feeling like that. I don’t think I’ll ever do hot food like that again.
Well your dedication to the team and trying to win the $500 was impressive. And Joe you seemed to go sort of blind – what happened there?
Joe: Somehow the heat had gotten into my eyes, and I don’t actually mind spicy food. It makes me hiccup and feel uncomfortable so I shouldn’t like it, since it’s more of a chore than a pleasure, but I don’t mind spicy food. But that. That was like a different kind of spice. And Caspar left me half way through, to be replaced by John the Sound Man, and he was a great sport, he loved it, but yeah it got into my eyes, and after we finished filming there was a bit of a concern about me because I was like ‘I actually can’t see very well’. I had just a red ring around my mouth that just stayed there and I had to take antihistamines to try and calm it down.
Is that one of the more extreme things you guys have done?
Joe: I would say I was most nervous for the food challenges. Definitely. But all the tasks we didn’t know what we were going into. It was sort of a shock. We had an idea sometimes, when we were going into the desert we figured it must be something to do with cowboys etc but we never knew what we were actually going to do so it was really good fun and it kept us on our toes.
Did you have a favourite task?
Joe: For me, I loved the whole NASA thing because I’ve always been intrigued by space, and we got to do stuff that the public aren’t able to do when they go there, for example, driving the buggy that can park itself sideways, and to get to wear the suits and stuff, they were experiences I’ve always dreamed of since I was a little boy. Getting the chance to do it – and captured on film as well so I can prove to my mates that it actually happened – was great.
Caspar: I really enjoyed the gospel singing because the people were so warm and lovely so that was really fun, and they just laughed at everything. Just really nice people.
I understand for your YouTube channels you do pretty much all the work in terms of scripting, performing, directing, editing. Is it strange coming on to a more traditional production like this and have a whole team around you?
Caspar: Yes it is, that’s why I think doing this second one was a lot better, and I hope you enjoyed it more because we felt so much more confident and we understood the energy we needed to bring and how it all works. It definitely felt like we learnt a lot from the first experience and it wasn’t a brand new thing. It’s so different from our YouTube work. There’s definitely less stress involved because you don’t have all the pressure on you, there’s lots of people to help out.
Joe: Yes it’s new territory for us so the first one it took me awhile to warm to the people around me and feel comfortable basically being a weirdo in front of them. And so having the same crew again for the second one, from the start I was very comfortable with what I was doing and I loved every second of it. And they’re all such great guys, they could all have their own spinoff shows they’re all so funny, and so experience.
There definitely came across on screen a great camaraderie, and always handy to have John the Sound Man sub in when you need him in a spicy wing eating challenge. So this is the second film, will you make it a trilogy – possibly coming to Australia next time?
Caspar: It would have to be Australia wouldn’t it?
Joe: I came to Australia for the first time in 2011 when I was traveling, before I started my YouTube channel. I wish I did actually vlog it. I flew to Cairns and got the Greyhound bus with a few mates all the way down to Sydney, stopping at a few places. The amount of experiences we had and the people were met, it was very unique and I loved every second of it. So I would love to do it here.
I think there are a few challenges we could throw at you.
Joe: Caspar really wants to go surfing.
There are a few sharks around, I should warn you, but it’s very rare, to be fair.
Joe: Oh that’s true. Well that would make it a much more interesting show to watch – potential of dangerous sharks!
You guys are really active across many social media channels but YouTube has been the hub of your work. Facebook is really trying to make a play for that video space, has this changed the way you distribute your content at all?
Caspar: Yeah I upload mostly photos to Facebook, although I do watch videos on there. But I’m so used to uploading on YouTube and I like how the whole subscription thing works, and you have your loyal audience on there. It’s all really cool and it’s nice to see different platforms emerging.
Joe: It’s great how important video consumption is now. And Vine’s gone which is a shame. But it was new and original and I think there will be a lot more stuff like that in the future, focusing on video. It’s a fantastic space to be in.
What’s coming up next for you guys?
Joe: We’ve got the premiere which we’re hoping to live stream like we did last time, have all our YouTube friends come along. We’re going to South Africa for New Years as we did last year, which will be fun, and then we’ll be gearing up for next year. Riding the wave!
That’s great the YouTube community is so supportive.
Caspar: Yeah, I mean there’s so many different communities on YouTube, it’s like the whole world is on there now, even CNN. My group of friends are awesome, I love them.
Joe: Our videos, a lot of the time, are just us as a group of friends, hanging out. We really do have the best job in the world.
“Joe and Caspar: Hit the Road USA” is available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 23, 2016, and you can catch Joe and Caspar live in Australia and New Zealand this month. Ticket details here.