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Trevor Carlee, the Man behind the Camera

If you have spent a significant amount of time in the Extra Life community, chances are good that you have seen one of Trevor Carlee’s videos. The father of two puts his kids front and center to star in wacky and fun shorts to explain and promote Extra Life. The videos range from short, informational pieces to recreations of famous television and film moments. Both of Trevor’s kids have been patients themselves at his local children’s hospital and he views the videos as a way of spending time with his kids while giving back to the place that helped his little ones.

We took the opportunity to talk with Trevor about his Extra Life fundraising and the origins of his cinematic efforts.

Jack Gardner: You are currently on your eighth year fundraising for Extra Life, how did you initially hear about the program and get involved?

Trevor Carlee: A friend that I run an infrequent (usually once or twice a year) gaming podcast with, Nick North, told me about it. We started the podcast as a voice for older gamers like us who don’t really have time to play games all the time. Playing together for 24 hours sounded like a fun time since we rarely, if ever, got to play together anymore. And it was for a good cause, so it was more likely we would be motivated to actually stick to it.

JG: Do you have a personal connection to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles?

TC: Yes! Both of my children have been through the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on multiple occasions throughout their lives. Experiencing that over and over has really cemented this event and organization in my heart.

JG: When did you start creating videos to promote Extra Life and your fundraising page and what prompted that decision?

TC: Technically I made a video in 2016, which was mostly just a montage edit showing the previous years and how much fun we have during Extra Life. 2017, though, is when I started shooting videos with my daughter. They were very simple videos with one or two shots. I shot them all in the week leading up to that year’s event just for fun honestly. The feedback was instant and overwhelming. Everyone absolutely adored the videos and wanted more. So, we just kept doing it, going bigger and bigger as we progressed. Now it’s a big part of what we look forward to every year leading up to Extra Life!

JG: How many videos have you created specifically for your Extra Life promotions?

TC: So far, I believe we’ve made more than 50 Extra Life promos involving my kiddos.

JG: There’s a lot of creativity and craft in your promotional videos. Which video is your favorite and why?

TC: Thank you so much! We really try to put a lot of energy into them. I think from a technical standpoint, the “Lego Butt Dial” one we did this year was my favorite one. The kids did a phenomenal job with their voice acting and I was really happy with how well the animation came together.

The one promo (where you can actually SEE the kids) that’s my all-time favorite is probably the Wonder Woman promo. We actually had to shoot it multiple times over the course of two years. The first year we had two failed attempts – one because we over-complicated the shots and one because we ran out of time and didn’t finish getting everything we needed. The following year, however, we went in with a solid plan and knocked it out of the park!

JG: You’ve raised more than $50k for CHLA! How does that feel, and do you have any tips for Extra Lifers who are just getting started?

TC: Wow, that feels great actually. I hadn’t really looked back at how much it all totaled up to be. Although to be fair, I believe I personally only raised around $38K and my Joe Blow Gamer team helped bring it over the 50K mark. So, my first tip would definitely be to join a team or build one of your own.

Another tip is to be persistent when asking for donations. If you ask once, you might get a donation or two, but you most likely won’t get anything else until game day. And even then, if you’re not constantly asking throughout the day of the event, no one will know/remember that they should donate. You’ll find that a lot of people you know will most likely want to donate but might not be at the most opportune place to follow through when they see your call to action. That’s why it’s important to hit them almost every day. If they get annoyed, they’ll mute you (it’s not the end of the world) – but they won’t get annoyed if you’re providing them with entertainment…which is why I do the videos!

One last tip is incentives! A lot of people love donating when they can immediately see their money doing something … like you or a friend shaving their head! One of our team members, John Nelson, shaved his head for a $1,000 donation that year (his hair was very long). It’s a great way to bring the community together and definitely brings in more donations.

JG: If other people see your videos and feel inspired to do similar promos, how can they learn to do what you do?

TC: Honestly, if you pick your favorite scene from a popular show or movie, you can have a pretty solid skeleton to work from. Clip a scene out that’s fairly popular (the broader your audience, the more chance you have at getting more donations and getting your promo shared). Write out the dialogue that’s in the scene and tweak it to fit into the Extra Life narrative in some way. Then shoot the same angle shots that are in the clip and overcut them. Now you have a professionally edited promo 😉 Add some music and a card at the end that says “Donate Please” (or whatever you’d like) and you’re done!

I also have endless tips for working with child actors, but that would read like a novel. So, if anyone has any questions, they can feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Instagram.

And as far as equipment is concerned, if you don’t have any prosumer equipment, a relatively new smartphone could do very well to get you what you need. There are some pretty good (cheap) microphones that connect to smartphones for some better-quality audio as well. And if you don’t have any lights, I suggest shooting your promos outside for free lighting!

JG: What does Change Kids’ Health, Change the Future Mean to You?

TC: Our children are our future, and we need to do everything we can to ensure each and every one of them has a healthy, safe journey.

JG: We see you are fundraising on Game Day 2020 — what are the deets? How can the community support your efforts on that day?

TC: Usually the team and I gather at my house (with guests throughout the day), but due to the pandemic we’re doing the whole event virtually this year. I’ll be running the event from my house, with people joining over video chat throughout the day. We’ll have some co-op, some multiplayer throw-downs and some online board games throughout the wee hours of the night. We’ve been doing a bunch of tests leading up to it, so it should be fun!

JG: Where can we find you on Twitch/YouTube and any public social media channels?

TC: You can find me on, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram!

JG: Is there anything else you would like to add?

TC: I just wanted to add that I owe the success and volume of these promos and my involvement in Extra Life as a whole in large part to my wife and kids. They deal with my last-minute scrambles as well as my constant bombardment of Extra Life talk for months on end with great stride. They endlessly support me and if not for their help and understanding, I wouldn’t be able to do any of these promos. I am truly grateful.

A huge thank you to Trevor for taking the time to talk with us. His videos really make a difference in the community – we’ve even used them to help promote Extra Life! Please check out his incredible work and support his fundraising #ForTheKids. Extra Life wouldn’t be nearly as engaging without Trevor, so show him the love and recognition he deserves.

Don’t forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!