Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stuff A-Levels Students Say (and do)

In the past month I have been involved with the making of a parody video of the perceived lives of A-Levels students in the school. There was initially a written script that was about a page long, but on days of video shooting the presence of the cast members was completely unpredictable, and we couldn't follow the script word-for-word. We had no choice but to improvise, meaning we would scrape off the script entirely, and make up a script on the spot depending on the number of the members of the cast who would show up. Even so, video shooting took up to three weeks. Sometimes we couldn't get enough people to fill up the frame, and we had to pull in random familiar strangers from the sidewalks who would eventually become friends, and I think this must have been the nicest part of the entire video making process. Some of the people in the video didn't know they were going to be in a video until ten minutes before the camera started rolling. And when we got desperate, there were always my dear classmates to fall back onto (which is why the video features so many scenes of them).

Video shooting days are completely uncertain: we've learned to not expect anything. It's terribly unsystematic but I go into every video shoot only knowing vaguely what will happen, which is generally me directing and Michelle recording the audio. We go into video shoots without a script or any idea of who will turn up but somehow there is always the assurance that we will have some kind of footage when it is over. A typical day of video shooting would be me and Michelle arriving early on the proposed venue of meeting, wondering if anyone will ever arrive, and while we do that, we think of potential scenes that we can shoot. When the cast (or half of it) starts to arrive, we have a brief conversation about what is expected from their scene, then it's me shooting and Michelle recording the audio, and repeating until a decent footage is captured. Most of the lines used in the final video were actual lines said by my classmates or things I hear from Janice from her stories of her classmates. Some lines though were inspired by the cast themselves. It is especially a good video shooting day when the cast have their own ideas and are excited to act them out, so essentially the video is made of everyone's ideas, and me and Michelle are just there to collect them.

Today though was the premiere: a video premiere being nothing fancier than the video being uploaded onto YouTube in the morning right before a pure mathematics test, and then spamming FaceBook groups with links to the video. During breaks I walked casually into the class next door and screened it onto the projector, shutting off the lights as I left the room as smoothly as I had come in intrusively. Michelle and I (okay, and Ian and Austin and Taliza and Euzarif) would look into the glass panes into the classrooms to watch their reactions to the video. And it was sweet beautiful amazing when they laughed collectively at the funnier/ more relatable scenes, such a beautiful sound it was, their laughter at something we had made. The entire five minutes I watched not the video but the crowd, relishing every time they found humour and relishing the entire while that they kept their eyes on the video. I repeated this four times in four different classes and clearly classes whose inhabitants were acting in the video enjoyed it more, and it doesn't matter how many people enjoyed it, rather it was amazing enough that someone laughed at it. It got emotional when I played the video in the first and third classes and because the classes had see-through panes, people passing through that corridor actually stopped and peeped inside to see what the hell was going on, and found themselves enjoying the video as well. And then people who had already watched the video the first time, nevertheless still stopped to peep as well, to watch it again.

It just feels amazing to have made something, and to see it so well-received.

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