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Changing to stay the same

Some people have said that MCM has changed over the years. Thank goodness for that! It’s been almost 8 years of doing this crazy YouTube car thing. If you’re 28 years old now, think back to what you were doing when you were 20 years old. If you’re 20, try and remember what you were doing when you were 12. If you’re 12, try and think back to when you were 4. If you’re not changing in 8 years then there’s something wrong… But here’s the funny thing with change - sometimes you bring about the change yourself, other times your hand is forced and you either adapt and overcome the challenges, or you give up. 

When we came up with the idea of making this show back in late 2007, we never thought of it as anything other than something fun to do on the weekend. We’d buy some parts off eBay, sit on the driveway and work out how to install them. There was just Marty, me, a camera and our 300 subscribers. These were before the days of “viral” videos. Our growth was gradual and consistent but we were never fuelled by it. We didn’t really care whether people wanted to watch us or not which is why we’ve never begged people to “like comment and subscribe”. It was a buzz knowing people were watching and learning but we never set out to take it to the top. When Variety Magazine in the USA last week announced the top 12 digital “stars” who have changed the landscape in their respective fields we were a bit taken a back when we were notified that MCM made the list.

Over the years we’ve come up with different ideas, played with different cars and done it for the love of it. We’re happy with our real jobs because then we don’t have to rely on MCM to become the thing that has to pay it’s own way. It never occurred to us that it would be anything other than a fun and an amazing adventure, but as the show grew in popularity, it also grew its own challenges that were beyond our control. The hardest of these, was random people from the internet “dropping” by to say hi while we were filming on the driveway. We’d post up a simple post on Facebook saying “Going to film a mad episode today” and within an hour the cars would start cruising past the house. Sometimes they would come in large groups, do burnouts, or park across other peoples driveways, or just sit out on the road filming us while we filmed our episodes often leaving garbage on the street. We’d be half way through a take and some totally random kid would just come in and sit down on the ground filming is with his iPhone. Eventually a neighbour would complain and then we’d just have to stop filming until they went away. But the main problem was not just people hanging around. It was that these people had the incessant habit of sharing all the little minute details of what we were doing and where we were on the internet, so it didn’t take long until the break ins started. Soon after, we had cars stolen and my motorbike stolen. I guess at the time we never spoke about it publicly because we didn’t want to give it any extra attention, it felt a bit like a downer and we didn’t know how to deal with it. Do we post on Facebook “Please don’t come to the driveway when we’re filming?” or “Please stop stealing our cars”. We just didn’t know what to do about it.

By 2012, the neighbours had had enough. If waking up on a Saturday morning to see two guys cutting the roof off a car with an angle grinder wasn’t enough, they also had to contend with a street full of random cars and people driving around with cameras trying to get a photo of what was happening next so that they could get some e-points on whatever car forum they were part of. So after many happy years of filming at Martys mums house, we had to find somewhere else so we started filming at Martys dads place. It didn’t take long for people to start posting up info about where we were and what we were doing there too. While they may have felt like they were well meaning fans, the combination of all their posts, and photos, gave any criminal all the info they needed. Once a fan came up to say hi to us, had a chat about what we were doing, then uploaded the whole thing onto the internet. He’d been secretly recording us. Then Marty’s dads car was stolen. He wasn’t well at the time and desperately needed his car. I mean that’s seriously about as low as it gets and it was because of MCM “fans” that someone who was helping us, had to lose his car. People were knocking on Martys dads door at all hours of the night. Some people even sent us photos of themselves standing out the front of the house thinking that we’d somehow be impressed that they had tracked down Martys mums house. No it wasn’t impressive at all. Numerous times Martys mum would call us to say there were cars sitting out the front of her house and sometimes the people would even knock on her door and then drive off late at night as a joke. Two further events required Police intervention but I won’t go into further details for you to get where this is heading. It’s hard to reconcile and justify the fun of making a YouTube show on the weekend, with the continual invasion of families privacy and theft. 

So we had to make some changes. The first of which, is that we had to let our families know that we wouldn’t be filming on their driveways anymore and that we were so sorry for the distress that it had caused. We were then left with the biggest issue of all, and that was: Where are we going to film the show? 

By early 2013 we were left with nowhere to film and resorted to filming in a car park. Each time someone would drive past or walk up we’d just pray that we wouldn’t get shut down. We went out and bought a petrol generator so that we’d be able to film outside on the side of the street if we had no other options. We soon realised this wasn’t sustainable and so we started asking around friends with workshops if we could use some space. The guys at Ichiban and AMauto threw their arms open to us and said we could film there anytime. They’ve both been so good to us. And thus begun a different stage of MCM where we were still essentially homeless but suddenly had access to some amazing people (Turbo Yoda, Dose Vader, Mechanical Stig, Mr NOS) so we thought we may as well make good use of it. Out of that came Gramps, Super Gramps, The turbo MX5, S2000, MOD MAX. And we’ve loved all these bigger projects, but we’ve kinda of felt like something was missing - a space to work on our own projects by ourselves. So we set out to try and create a space where we could get back to doing what we do. 

And it’s taken us a couple of years, but recently we moved MCM into a small shed. It’s not perfect and we’re currently sharing it with some builders but its a place where we can kind of return to the roots of what MCM is. There’s no hoist, or fancy tools. Just Martys tool box, and my tool box sitting side by side on some palette racking. We’ve still got a lot of work to do to get the space ready but we know we’re on the right track. We tried filming in there but there was too much reverb so we have to make up a bunch of acoustic panels and we’ve got to treat the floor and add some lighting. So that’s what we’re working on at the moment. It’s getting there, but it’s something that we’re continuing to do in our spare time because we’ve got commitments outside of MCM that take up just as much time. So have we changed?

There’s only ever been a simple question that helps us to decide whether to make a video or not: Can we learn something from this and does it interest us? Doesn’t matter if its SuperGramps or painting callipers. Is it interesting and/or can I learn something? That’s the motivation behind all of our videos.

We make videos about our hobby because for us it's fun, educational, and entertaining. It turns out a lot of people agree, and because of this we've met some awesome people from all corners of the globe who are just as into it as we are. This is by far one of the most rewarding parts of what we do with the show. As often can be the case, a few bag eggs have the potential to ruin it for everybody, but it's the support of fans who respect privacy and family, understand what it is we do and why - that keep us going.

So when people say that we’ve changed, they’re right. We’ve had to change. But MCM has remained the same. It’s Marty and I working on projects that interest us. It’s all it’s ever been. And it’s all it ever will be.