It was a sweltering summer day in Waco, Texas, when Mark Phillips first decided to pick up the camera.
Phillips, his friend Affiong Harris and several other childhood friends turned on their pawn shop Nikon and recorded what would later be known as “Hilarious Home Video,” the first YouTube upload for their channel, RDCWorld1.
Eight years and seven months after the group made its internet debut, much has changed in the lives of Phillips and his cohort. For one, the channel has garnered a good 4.5 million more subscribers, and Phillips (@SupremeDreams_1) has 880,000 more followers on Twitter. A video he posted on Twitter several weeks ago that was quote-tweeted by LeBron James (more on that later) has reached more than 17.4 million views.
But with everything in the lives of the RDCworld1 crew that has changed since that summer day in Waco, just as much has remained the same. Five of the members who took part in the original video are still doing the same thing they started in 2012: making goofy videos with their friends.
“I never want (the audience) to think that we are changing, because we’re not,” Phillips says. “I’m still the same person I was when I was 15, and I would like to say everybody in this group is the same.”
Their journey began when Phillips was just five years old. He used to go to Harris’s house to try to create comic books. When a career in comic book art didn’t pan out, the duo (along with their five friends) started making videos.
The YouTube channel began as Phillips was finishing up school at Waco High. Most of the early clips were skits that are now reminiscent of early 2010’s YouTubes, with titles like “Things Nobody Says! (Best Video) or “College Rant (Very Important info!).” As time went on, the channel gained a following, even after the group split up to attend different universities.
With Phillips at the University of North Texas and Harris at North Texas Central College, the two continued to make videos separately while attending school. Phillips would often return to Waco to record with whoever happened to be in town that weekend. Even while apart, the group remained close.
By Phillips’s junior year, several of the videos had hit one million views. That’s when he had an idea.
He asked the other six members of RDCworld1 to drop what they were doing and head to Denton, Texas, to make videos full-time. They all obliged, and thus began their careers in content creation.
“It just required us to basically not have any other jobs, just to focus on this full-time,” Phillips says. “I feel like if you’ve got another job, you don’t really believe in it all the way.”
The group all moved into the same apartment complex in Denton in 2015. From there, the skits kept coming, and so did the views.
When the historic 2016 NBA Finals matchup between the 73-win Warriors and James’s Cavaliers came to fruition, the team began dipping its toes into NBA content, specifically skits surrounding James’s plight as the best player on that Cleveland squad.
The first video, made in the wake of the Cavs’ Game 2 blowout loss, received more than 40,000 retweets. Their next video, posted days later, got 18,000 more.
Eventually, their basketball-centered videos gained a following in NBA Twitter, a community that Phillips described as great people who are “very essential to our success.”
For most of the group’s videos, the total YouTube views of which are now nearing 700 million, Phillips is the writer and the lead actor. So how does the group of seven guys function for so long when one is the so-called face of the franchise?
According to RDCworld1 member Benjamin Skinner, the dynamic closely resembles that of the NBA teams they often mimic.
“Everyone knows their role,” he says. “Everyone knows their strengths and weaknesses, so everyone just plays off each other.”
Of course, every successful team needs a leader to point them in the right direction. Phillips knows the acknowledgement of each member’s specific role and the transparency to guide them into it has kept the group as tight-knit as ever.
“Being genuine, to me, it means everything really,” he says. “[Loyalty], happiness, just accomplishing your dreams, you’ve got to be genuine in everything you do... I feel like anybody else wouldn’t be doing that with their whole group because it would be a lot of extra feelings. We ain’t got no extra feelings.”
That lack of “extra feelings” is what brought the group to reconvene in Denton in 2015, and it’s what drives the idea brainstorm meetings, a process that RDCworld1 member Leland Manigo describes as “like an assembly line.” But even now that they’ve made a career out of their childhood passions, Phillips said they always want to keep that genuine nature of their work and create only videos they enjoy making. That means to this day, the YouTube channel is full of gaming and anime videos, comedy skits and, of course, NBA content.
If you follow the NBA even at a distance, you’ve probably seen the viral video they created of “LeBron James’s reaction” to the blockbuster James Harden trade. James quote tweeted the video in typical LeBron fashion, quoting a line from the video along with an array of emoji.
For Phillips, it was a benchmark that an inspiration (and often-used subject) of their skits had noticed their video.
“We were just going crazy. We couldn’t believe it. We were all just piled over one phone,” Phillips says. “We was live. We was going crazy. I started crying.”
In total, the video has received more than 200,000 retweets and is already their third-most-viewed video on YouTube in the last year.
But what’s next for the crew of RDCworld1 as they bask in internet fame? Phillips said that they want to reach beyond just the world wide web and expand deeper into the entertainment industry, in film and television.
While it may not be clear what the future holds, one thing is clear: Wherever Mark Phillips goes, you can bet the rest of the RDCworld1 team will be going with him.