Murad and Nataly Osmann with Finn Harries near the Soho House Hotel, New York
Nataly: Finn, you are followed, watched, read, reposted and liked by millions of people on different social media. How did it all began? Can you tell us the story of your first video?
Finn: Both of my parents are involved in the movie industry. My father has his own production studio, and my mother is a script writer. Jack and I literally grew up in the media sphere. After graduating school, we decided to take a break, and figure out what to do with our lives, what to do in the future. My brother decided to be an actor and I opted for design. I never liked to be in front of the camera. Jack always was the noisiest and the most active, even though I am the older one…
Murad: Excuse me, but how much older are you than your brother?
Finn: Two minutes. It is really important for twins, you know. (Smiling)
Finn and Jack Harries
So, our “find yourself” year began. Jack created a YouTube channel – only for practicing in order to feel more free in front of the camera. And I found a freelance job as a web designer creating logos for different companies. After 3 months, while recording another video Jack asked me to sit with him and talk a little on camera. Of course, my answer was “No; no way!” He began begging, convincing me and eventually I gave in. We sat and filmed a video about twins. And everyone seemed to go crazy! More than 10,000 views! We could not imagine anything like that. Gradually our channel grew, and by the time we were back in London companies started contacting us and suggesting small collaborations. So, we understood we could make money out of this. Nothing big, but when you are 17-18 you are amazed even by that! In the course of time we became more professional. Got better equipment, always brought a camera with us, just like you guys do. We were writing, filming, doing a hell of a lot of mistakes, and learning from them.
Nataly: So, now you are graduating from Faculty of Architecture, from Parsons School of Design. Does the knowledge you got here help you on your journeys? Do you see yourself as an architect in future?
Finn: Parsons appeared in my life after Jacksgap. My brother and I came to New York to film a video for Skype about a female cellist, who was making video tutorials on how to play cello on the Internet. I fell in love with this crazy city from the first moment I saw it and immideatly learned about the awesome Parsons School of Design… Actually you touched a bit of a sensitive topic. There was such a strange conflict inside of me: on the one hand there was a successful project, and everyone said something like “Hey keep on that!”, and on the other, there was a small voice in my brain, that it is not what I actually want to do. And I decided to slow down. Jacksgap was not created to make us famous or rich, anyway!
Nataly: And about what did you want to film then?
Finn: Em, for instance about the creating of architectural project. This is actually a pretty entertaining process! I think this is genius: to tell people why this building looks this way and why the neighboring one looks different, how the castle was built, or why a flat roof was chosen, and so on.
Murad: The vast audience of Jacksgap is ready to listen about castles and roofs, as long as it’s you who’s telling them! That’s an easy way to attract attention to your new project!
Finn: I actually just want to be an architect and I’m not looking for fame (Smiles)
Nataly: What is the most difficult thing you had to overcome in your travels?
Finn: I think our trip to India was one of the toughest. Our car broke down, so we had to spend the whole day in the open back of the truck. Add to that the horrendous Indian roads that have bumps in every step! Trying to sleep in such wonderful conditions was really something. (Laughs)
Nataly:You tackle social issues in many of your travels, you support programs to stop climate change and protect the environment. Where does that responsibility come from?
Finn: There needs to be reason and meaning to every trip. Before going somewhere, me and my brother consider all the details. If it’s something we want to devote ourselves to, making silly videos may not be the best strategy. If we’re gonna put so much time and effort into something, it has to be worth it! All the money gained from our trip to India was given to charities. People liked it, they understood that this wasn’t just a fun show–it was important, it was a project with a bigger, more noble goal. By the way, on the next day we talked in detail to our fans about where the money went.
Nataly: You’re doing the right thing – being honest and responsible towards your viewers!
Finn: That’s right! For us it is always important to keep in mind that you are responsible to your viewers. Remember that your every step and action will matter.
For a long time people told me “Oh, you are a YouTuber!” And I always wondered what does that mean? Is it good or bad? No one really knows, but I can almost always sense not necessarily negative, but dismissive notes. And I began to think about it: Is a YouTuber just someone who talks about himself? Or someone who creates and teaches? We deliberetly picked the second one... And are travelling around the world for 3 years now. (Smiling) And I wonder, guys you travel a lot. A lot! Aren’t you tired yet?
Murad: I would not call it tiredness, perhaps we just got used to this rhythm. Five days a week we are working in Moscow, and on the weekends we travel. But now we host our show on The First Chanel Russia, and it complicates things a bit. Truthfully, what makes me tired are not the endless trips or my work as a movie producer – I can stand it all, but the most horrific thing in my life were, and are, social events. (Laughing)
Finn: Why do you hate them?
Murad: Well, I don’t know…
Finn (interrupting): Don’t feel yourself in control of the situation?
Murad: It is not really about that… I always was a free spirit as a teen, and then my parents sent me to study in London, alone, in an awful university with total lack of a social life. And that isolation really affected my character. Since then I’ve became a sociable introvert. (Smiling) When I feel comfortable I talk with pleasure. But on social events I somehow break down. Do you remember the episode from “Friends”? The voice in your head began to panic: “What should I say, What should I say? – Say something!” (Everyone laughs)
Photo: Murad Osmann
Nataly: Finn, if you were told to pack your suitcases and leave New York, where would you go?
Finn: You know, we traveled in Sri Lanka and…
Nataly (interrupting): Adam's Peak?
Finn: That’s what I was going to say! Yes! It is the most incredible place in the world that I have ever visited. We were climbing for a long time, and then sitting on a cliff and watching the sunrise. It was incredible. You should definitely go there!
Murad: Oh, I am too old for that, I am 31 you know…
Nataly: But Murad, please let’s do that!
Murad: Deep inside I am a very lazy person… (Everybody laughs)
Finn: But do you have places you want to visit? Do you have a feeling that you are getting out of them?
Murad: Actually, the more we travel, the more we realize, that we barely went anywhere! And I also noticed a strange feeling after visiting popular landmarks. We saw The Taj Mahal, it is magnificent! But I still felt that it was installed ten years ago. I am not talking about a beautiful story linked with it, or architecture…
Nataly (interrupting): But I love The Taj Mahal!
Murad: Maybe I am too fussy. (Smiling) According to our trips, we always have a certain plan – is this trip connected to our show, or do we just want to relax and have fun? But the last agenda happens pretty rarely now.
Nataly: Our honeymoon lasted for two days.
Finn: Only two?
Murad: Actually it was nine, but we rested for a few days on the Maldives, and thought, bloody hell, we should go back to work!