What would you tell your 12-year-old self now if you could? What questions would you ask an older version of yourself if you had the chance?
Jeremiah McDonald’s viral video, “A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition,” uses the power of video editing and Internet technology to propose a situation in which he could live out these scenarios.
Having set the project in motion before YouTube even came onto the scene, Jeremiah recorded himself on a videocassette as a 12-year-old in 1992. And now he is responding to that video 20 years later. Through the time lapse, Jeremiah confronts changed appearances, deceased pets, and the continued pursuit of childhood aspirations.
Since Jeremiah posted the video on his Weeping Prophet Productions YouTube channel on Thursday, it has been viewed over 1.5 million times.
Shira Lazar caught up with the man behind the video to ask him about the process of making such an ambitious project, his reaction to the overnight success, and his plans for the future.
Currently residing in Portland, Maine, Jeremiah is living “the life of the artist,” with a resume of theatrical performances, hit YouTube videos, and odd-jobs.
“Six months ago I was doing theater in France and then I came home and had nothing, so I’ve been working at a parking garage for the last few months.”
Not that he was banking on it or anything, but Jeremiah knew that this year held a certain significance. “I’ve had this particular video in my pocket for a while because I had the footage and knew I wanted to do it in 2012 because of the 20-year gap,” he said.
Jeremiah actually attempted to accomplish this project within a shorter time span, having taped himself at 10, then creating a response video at 12 years old. But the improvisation just wasn’t gelling, even though some of the material still made the cut.
“When I’m commenting on my hair, it’s actually my 12-year-old self commenting on how much he’s improved since the age of 10,” Jeremiah says.
This video is an interesting case of taking the personal and having it blow up on a universally relatable scale. For this reason, Jeremiah has trouble pinpointing the reason he’s received attention, stating, “In a way it’s the most personal thing that I’ve done.”
Even though he understands that viral videos can’t be manufactured or completely premeditated, Jeremiah admits, “Viral was lurking in the back of my mind.” He knew that he needed to create something share-worthy. And that’s exactly what he did.
Reaping the benefits of the positive attention, Jeremiah used the video to pursue his childhood dream of being an animator by launching a Tumblr page where people can ask him to draw things. He was expecting a gradual takeoff, but it turns out he’s received over 1,000 requests in less than a day.
Finally, Shira must know, “What real advice would you give to your 12-year-old self?”
“I would encourage him and tell him that what he’s doing is worthwhile and will serve him well in the future and that the future is a great time to be an artist,” McDonald says. “I would tell him to get Preston Blair’s book of animation and study it. I didn’t get it until I was 26 and if I’d had it when I was 12, I would’ve been well ahead of the game by now.”
The power of the Internet continues to prove that it’s never too late to pursue your passions.