Paul Raila is a filmmaker and cinematographer who lost all his work due to the COVID-19 shutdown. “If I really sit down and think about it, I become overwhelmed with dread,” the Houston-based father-of-two admits. “But for my own well-being and just to be a good father and partner, I can’t let myself stay in that space.”
As a self-confessed workaholic, Paul started searching for a side-project to save his sanity. Concerned about how he was going to keep his two daughters Bean (3) and Juju (2) entertained under lockdown, he decided to get them involved.
“I figured I could be all gloom and doom or we could all just try to make the best of it,” Paul says. “I’d been wanting to make more involved videos with my daughters and I realised this family isolation time presented the prefect opportunity.”
The result is a series of 90-second cooking videos hosted by Paul’s young kids. Imagine a more anarchic version of the Swedish chef from The Muppet Show aided by a pint-sized kitchen-hand with a flair for slapstick comedy and you’re halfway there. Suffice to say, the clips are both heartwarming and utterly deranged. As Paul admits, “Things get very wacky, very fast.”
Much of the humour comes from the juxtaposition of the onscreen carnage with the deadpan captions that endeavour to wrestle a coherent narrative out of the culinary wreckage. But the bottom line is they’re just really watchable.
“I’ve done recipe videos for different clients,” the 43-year-old explains. “I made a cooking video with my 93-year-old great aunt a while ago that everyone seemed to enjoy. Everybody just seems to love watching recipe videos.”
Paul’s girls particularly seem to enjoy making pancakes in an episode that’s especially off-kilter. “They could eat nothing but pancakes all day and be completely content.”
Bean, the elder sister is beginning to appreciate her culinary flair. “She’s got so much pride that she has her own cooking show,” Paul says. “She wants to be involved with everything in the kitchen now. The ambition is there, the interest is there. She’s just not quite at a level where she can do all that much beyond holding a spoon.”
But the video projects have proved to be more than light relief. At a difficult time, they’ve provided a shared focus that’s bonded the family closer together.
“My wife deserves a lot of credit,” says Paul. “Setting up the cameras is easy. She wrangles and dresses the girls, prepares all the ingredients, and provides off-camera emotional support. None of this would be possible without her.
“Between making these videos, taking naps and trying not to drink too much, I’m exhausted. My wife is the glue that holds everything together and the real star of the show around here. None of this would be possible without her.”
You can follow Paul on Instagram here