From Waitrose to world domination: How The Slow Mo Guys conquered YouTube

Gavin Free and Daniel Gruchy tell Loaded how they became viral video superstars.

The Slow Mo Guys Foster's Rocks
Collision Colours combine for Gavin Free and Daniel Gruchy's latest video. Image Picture Foster's

Even if you’ve never heard of The Slow Mo Guys, chances are you’ve stumbled across one of their videos online.

Brits Gavin Free and Daniel Gruchy conduct ambitious experiments with high-speed Phantom digital cameras and slow down the footage with spectacular results.

Their YouTube channel boasts 7.5 million subscribers and videos like the bursting of a giant, water-filled balloon and serving jelly through a tennis racket are viral sensations.

“We both went to the same school but didn’t know each other very well,” Gruchy explains to Loaded. “Then we started working at Waitrose: I was fresh foods, Gavin was fruit and veg. We ended up bonding over a love of video games.”

Free now lives and Texas and Gruchy in the UK, so the latter normally has to hop on a plane over to the US where the pair film several videos in one go.

They’re reunited in the UK for the first time in two years thanks to Foster’s Rocks, a new mix of lager and spiced rum.

“They got in touch with us and wanted us to visualise the drink in an epic way,” says Free. “The idea was just a combination of two things in slow-mo, so I suggested we play off some of our previous videos – let’s just smash two balloons of liquid together. With two different colours we’ll get cool visuals.”

If The Slow Mo Guys’ latest epic has you intrigued, here’s a further look into the past, present and future of the YouTube sensations.


 

1

The one video to get people hooked is…

If Free and Gruchy had to recommend just one of their vides to get people hooked, it’d be this look at a gun being fired underwater. “Everyone visualises what a bullet coming out of a gun looks like,” says Free. “In water, you just see it pull a vacuum through the water and all this science is right in front of you. You can’t avoid it when you point a high-speed camera at it.”

Gruchy says that The Slow Mo Guys’ mix of spectacle and science is what keeps people coming back for more. “We’ve been sent pictures of people watching our videos in class and say ‘We just watched a Slow Mo Guys video in physics.'”

2

They like to keep things simple

Working with Foster’s has given Free and Gruchy a luxury they don’t normally have: a crew. “On our own, we’re very grab and go – if it wasn’t perfect it doesn’t matter, we’ll keep going,” says Free. “Because we don’t see each other that often, we have to film 10 videos at a time. It’s nice to spend the time to focus on one video.”

They also let their videos speak for themselves instead of relying on cheap clickbait. “If you’re providing something that no one’s seen before, you need it to be interesting or cool or funny,” Gruchy notes.

“A lot of people try tactics on YouTube like having very clickbait titles or putting text all over their thumbnails. We just like to let the imagery speak for itself; we name the video, then literally just take a screenshot and put it as the thumbnail.”

3

They don’t get distracted by passing trends

Free describes 3D as “a fad”, while Gruchy says “Most people on YouTube watch on their phone. Nobody’s going to be whacking on 3D glasses to watch our videos.”

He added: “The only thing we will do is keep getting faster cameras. In a decade, an iPhone will do what we’re doing now.”

4

Daniel gets injured. A lot.

These days, Free mainly stays behind the camera to control filming stunts with Gruchy in the firing line. This has resulted in a fair few injuries: scars on knuckles, a permanent mark after taking a paintball at close range and burning hot oil on skin after it hit flashpoint.

The worst, however, was a sliced ear that was too gruesome to actually put up online. “It was a prop sugarglass bottle but it had been moulded wrong – it was thick at the end and it just cut Dan’s ear,” says Free.

5

And for their next trick?

“We’ve always wanted to film a car crash,” says Free. “That’s very technical to set up. It’ll look really good. We’re just waiting for someone to come and fund that. It won’t be a car brand who’ll want to see their car get messed up!”

At the moment, the pair see YouTube as the best outlet to distribute their work, but they’re not going to rule out expanding the series to other platforms. “We’d be interested in doing a TV show, we’ve been approached several times,” says Free. “We’re just waiting for someone with the perfect deal. A movie? The upside is you can film it in 40 seconds and stretch it to an hour-and-a-half!”

Foster’s have partnered with their mates, The Slow Mo Guys, to celebrate the release of Foster’s Rocks. For more information head to Facebook.com/Fosters.

Previous Post
Next Post

Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

contribute