Back in 2011, as my time in Guatemala was wrapping up, as well as the school year, I wanted to create a special memory with one of my favorite classes (Truthfully, all of my classes were my favorite). But the class of 2016 was special, which is why I asked them if they wanted to do a special project. I wanted my students to do something fun and challenging, I wanted them to make a music video.
I was born in 1984, right in time for MTV to take over my life. Thankfully, I guess this depends on your own opinion, back then MTV still aired music videos, and not the trashy reality television it shows today. I mean I know we all care about what snooky does, but man, I miss the music. I miss the videos.
Ok, to be honest, my family never had cable so I didn’t watch MTV all that often, but whenever I was over at my Grandpa’s house (he had cable), I would sneak in a little VH1 or MTV. My favorite videos were always, and I guess they still are, the ones that tell a story. Ok, there are still a few good music videos out there. You can check out Coldplay’s Paradise video if you want an example.
Sadly, it seems like the art of a good music video has been lost. Now, it’s all about the money and sex. To quote the Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the love?”
And so, I set out, with my class, to make a good meaningful music video. One that was clean with a message.
Like all good teachers, I let my students think they had come up with the idea for a music video, participation is much easier when the participants believe it’s their idea. They ate up my challenge to think up something fun. Really, it wasn’t hard to convince a class full of girls that dancing is the coolest thing ever, plus almost anyone would rather dance than sit in a classroom and read (not that reading is boring, but we are talking about middle schoolers here).
The hard part was coming up with the right song. I had to insert a couple of ground rules for the song, it had to be clean and share a message, which nullified many of my student’s favorite songs.
It’s amazing how dirty most pop songs are, when you actually listen to the lyrics. I’m still not sure what Fergie meant in her song “London Bridge.” (And no, I’m not going to give you a link for her video, it’s disgusting.)
After a couple of days of heated discussion, we finally landed on a Jessie J song. Price Tag!
Like all great teachers, I had to compromise with my students. All they wanted to do was dance and me, I wanted to tell a story. As a class we’d come up costume and prop ideas, but as they choreographed the dance and I picked out our filming locations, the props and costumes just didn’t get made.
If you want props and costumes, make sure you enlist someone who doesn’t have tons of homework, either to grade or to complete. And so it proved to be too difficult to do props and costumes, which also forced us to drop the story. Making a complex music video wasn’t anything we had in us.
What we did have, were some crazy laughs, lots more takes than any director would care to film, a couple of tense moments (like when I sent one of the kids in to the library to grab some batteries for my camera and he came out with my external hard drive for my computer), and a blast of a time.
And for the next 6 months the semi-unedited footage above, sat on my computer compiling data dust. I didn’t know what to do. I knew my iMovie skills wouldn’t be good enough to edit the footage together and add music on over top. So when my students asked, “Have you started,” or “is it finished yet?” I avoided their questions.
I really didn’t want to complete it and make it look lame. I love those kids too much to make them look bad, but I also didn’t want them to think I was putting them off. And so a couple of weeks ago I finally asked my friend Drew to help me finish off the music video. Two hours later it was done! It sure helps to have final cut pro.
Now, I am pleased to present the IAS class of 2016 hit video of the year: