I spent way too much time last weekend following the fortunes of a movie made by some UBC students and put up on the internet.
Since I have two sons at the university, and one of them knew the director/producer well, I was interested in the way this film might become a viral entity and rack up those ‘hits’ that are the mark of a successful project.
It was released and uploaded on Friday, April 9, and my son sent me the link early on Saturday morning.
When I clicked on to the link, it already had more than 20,000 views and so I watched it.
As a big fan of the flashmob phenomena and the common purpose of joy and dance which brings young people to produce them, I wanted to see what this particular genre of films offered.
I wasn’t disappointed.
The movie is called a lipdub and many of them have been made by various universities and high schools. The genre began with a dozen young men in an office a couple of years ago who did a lipsynch of a song in their office environment as a camera traveled through the setting. The audio of the song was then dubbed over the movie sound so that all you hear is some good music accompanied by a ‘tour’ of a facility full of interesting characters.
Like many things seen on the internet, the first version fired up the creative imaginations of young people and it spread through the education communities.
The movie I watched was UBC’s version of the lipdub, the brainchild of two UBC fine arts students, meticulously planned for almost seven months, filmed in one day with a cast of a thousand volunteers, and then edited in less than two weeks and put up for everyone to enjoy.
There are a few things to understand about this project. First, there’s no money to be made from it, although surely some exposure like this will not hurt the career aspirations of a couple of fine arts graduates. All costs were covered by sponsors, and since the film is uploaded to the internet, there is no money to be made by the creators.
Second, the volunteers are having fun and when you watch it, you can feel both the joy of participation and the sense of school spirit it entails. There’s no swearing, drinking, drugs or sexual references – it’s just about having fun.
Third, the producers found a sponsor who would support the film by making a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for every hit the film got on the internet.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, of course, provides funding to assist children with life-threatening illnesses to experience a ‘dream’ they have.
So let me put this all together. A couple of guys surfing the internet notice lipdubs from other schools and decide they’d like to do it at their school.
With an enormous investment of time and energy they create a film strategy, line up sponsors, recruit organizational volunteers to assist them in pulling it off, recruit a thousand volunteers to show up for six hours of filming, then use the outcome of the entire process to raise funds for kids who need a break.
I have often expressed my concern about the excessive dependence of young people on technology and the trivialization of real thinking by superficial skimming of information.
But I am also well aware that, as a tool, the internet holds great promise for bringing people around the world together to do great things.
This film, in my opinion, is one example of the finest utilization of the medium.
Go to YouTube. Type in UBC Lipdub in the search bar and click on the [Official] UBC Lipdub.
I’m writing this just three days after the release and it has more than 400,000 hits already.
This column is my tip-of-the-hat to everyone who worked on the project and my request for those who read this to support a worthy cause, and enjoy some youthful creativity, by watching it. It’ll be 10 minutes of time well spent.
Graham Hookey is an educator and writer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
• To see the UBC lipdub video, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dpp3quce1Vo