What it took to make the lip dub a reality

Andrew Lappas and Principal Rinaldi prepare to film a scene of the lip dub // Photo by Dani Cohen.

Today, November 30th, the highly anticipated Westhill Lip Dub was released! Students in Connection Time viewed the video for the first time. The lip dub opens with senior Andrew Lappas and Principal Rinaldi singing to “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons. From there, you are taken on a journey across the school with hundreds of students. There is singing, dancing and representation from every club and activity.

Filming took place on November 22nd, the day before Thanksgiving. Prior to that, there was a whole team of planners helping make a vision turn to a reality. The Westword got to ask Mrs. Cohen, one of the lip dub planners, questions on how they made all of this possible.

The Westword (TW): How much planning went into the lip dub?

Dani Cohen (DC): I presented the idea to Principal Rinaldi in Mid-September and once I had the enthusiastic green light, I sought out Kate Tobin. Kate and I went to Westhill together and were in North Star Playmakers, so we had a history. She had been in Westhill teaching for a long time so I thought she would be a great source to help me navigate all the channels to get this dub rolling. We met almost daily since then to get different aspects of the dub firmed up. I had many nights where I found myself still working on the dub until the wee hours of the morning as there were so many moving pieces.

TW: How did you guys decide you wanted to do a lip dub?

DC: We wanted to do something fun that would bring our Viking community together. A project that everyone had the chance to be involved in, both students and faculty. We had seen Lip Dubs out there and just thought, why can’t we do one? We looked at it as a giant team building activity.

TW: Were there any specific lip dubs on YouTube that helped with the planning process?

DC: Torrance High School was a big one that we looked at, they made an effort to showcase everything their school had to offer, which is what we tried to do here at Westhill. We watched more lip dubs then you can imagine to see ideas that worked well and what just was flat out boring.

TW: Is this something you could see the school doing every year?

DC: Absolutely! Who is ready for Lip Dub 2018?! Tobin and I have already created notes for things that we could change for next year and ideas that we have to make it even more epic than this year, if that is even possible… (it is… and we WILL!)

TW: What was your favorite song from the dub?

DC: Each song snuck it’s way into my heart. We had a diverse group of songs that we had to theatrically find a way to blend them together to make sense. I will say, the last scene of “Can’t Hold Us” was so much fun because it just amped up the students.

TW: Looking back now that it’s finished, what is one thing you would’ve changed about the planning process?

DC: The only thing I would change is creating a survey for the entire student body to submit song ideas. Since we had a short period of time to put the entire dub together we only had a sampling of seniors who created our list. We want everyone to get involved and next year a survey will go out for students to submit a song choice.

TW: Who are some other staff members or students who also helped with making this happen?

DC: Harrison Travaglino, a junior, had a huge hand in this process. He was at every practice, most of the meetings, video taped, edited and helped get this dub together. Hats off to him for a job extremely well done. The Spirit Committee made up of a variety of faculty members helped with a lot of the behind the scenes, from making sure props were in the right spaces, to getting hallways prepped or taken down, you name it. Ruben – Our Viking! He wore that costume going up to the roof! Talk about a team player! The entire faculty played some kind of role in helping make this day a huge success.

TW: Favorite thing about planning and completing this project?

DC: What was great during planning is that I truly loved how, as a new teacher to this school, I was able to meet more of the faculty and work collaboratively with them. It was a great opportunity to see the amazing things going on around our school and the incredible faculty who make it all happen. The part of the competition that I enjoyed the most was the last scene. When we were able to say “That’s a wrap!” and know that we did it, we pulled off the MOST epic lip dub ever. I was nervous because we had 1 take to get the entire scene right, and we did it and the students knocked it out of the park.

To follow Mrs. Cohen on Twitter, click here.

To follow The Westword on Twitter, click here.

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