Northern Ireland

Game Grumps: Filmmaker Jack Walsh on his journey from Lisburn to LA

Jack Walsh filming with a camera Image copyright Jack Walsh
Image caption Jack Walsh works behind the camera on the hugely popular Game Grumps webseries

It is the home of the entertainment universe, but for every top filmmaker in Los Angeles there are many who fail to be successful.

Jack Walsh, from Lisburn in County Antrim, is hoping he will be one of the few to make it big.

"Here everyone is involved in the industry as an actor or film-maker, even if they're serving coffee in a restaurant," he said.

His passion for film was initially sparked by his A-level course in moving image arts at Friends' School in Lisburn.

Now, the 23-year-old is working for the hugely popular Game Grumps channel in Los Angeles, which has over 3.1m YouTube subscribers.

The idea is deceptively simple.

Each day, Game Grumps uploads up to four videos of members of the group playing a videogame while talking about it as they play.

Amazed

Be warned, the commentary and humour can be of the adults-only variety.

But watching and listening to members of the company play classic videogames like Super Mario attracts hundreds of thousands of people a day.

Walsh works behind the camera to help keep the whole enterprise going.

"You'd be amazed at the work that goes into watching people play video games," he said.

Image copyright Jack Walsh
Image caption Jack moved to Los Angeles to study at film school after completing his A-levels in Lisburn

"What I do is shooting and directing the commercials for them which they upload onto their channel.

"They get asked by a lot of technological and computer companies to promote and advertise their products, so I film live action material for them."

Afloat

He is also involved in the company's planned expansion into TV comedy on YouTube's Red channel, which has recently been launched as an alternative to Netflix.

"We're developing more original material which will be released on YouTube," he said.

"The team behind Game Grumps are animators, comedians and musicians, so the YouTube channel helps to keep all their other projects afloat.

"We hope to get bigger, releasing more original content."

Walsh moved to Los Angeles at 18 to study at film school straight after taking four A-levels at Friends' School.

His A-level in moving image arts got him hooked on filmmaking, and in the final year of his film degree he got an opportunity to work with leading composer John Debney.

Debney has composed scores for a number of films including Iron Man 2, Bruce Almighty, Elf and The Passion Of The Christ, for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

Inspired

"Our syllabus allowed us to intern at a production company for the final semester and I was fortunate enough to work with him," said Walsh.

"I was his sole intern and at the time John was conducting for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, released last year as the first film under Paramount's new animation studio."

Image copyright Jack Walsh
Image caption Jack's time working with composer John Debney has inspired him to write his own production

That experience led Walsh to write and direct his own short film musical, Not Another High School Musical, in which a teenage boy becomes inspired to form his own all-singing, dancing gang to stand up to the bullies in his school after watching West Side Story.

"I wrote the music and lyrics, and I would really like to do more of that in the future," he said.

"I hope to write a Game Grumps musical and shoot it over the next couple of years."

Opportunities

And would he like to return home to work in Northern Ireland's burgeoning film industry at some point?

"It's great that the film industry is growing in Northern Ireland, especially with Game Of Thrones, which is really the biggest TV show in the world," he said.

"I still think there are more opportunities back home as well.

"LA can be lonely if you don't know anyone, but the company here is getting bigger and bigger and I want to shoot and direct more so I'm not ready to come home just yet."