Behind the scenes of the 2018 lip dub

Photo by Sydney Eben / Photographer.

Recently, The Westword sat down with the creative team of the 2018 Westhill Lip Dub to discuss what it took to create the nearly 20-minute school-spirit focused video. Mrs. Cohen and Ms. Tobin were the two teachers who headed the project, and Harrison Travaglino (’19) was the student behind the scenes, filming and editing.

The Westword: What role did you personally have in planning the Lip Dub?
Mrs. Cohen (C): I was the co-director of the Lip Dub.

Harrison Travaglino (HT): I helped with some of the smaller moving pieces such as the transitions and cutting the music.

Ms. Tobin (T): As co-director, I researched songs, I put them in order, I held the auditions and picked the Dubbers, I met with the teachers who had taken on certain sections and walked it with them and gave them their dubbers and their lyrics and their spaces and so on.

TW: How long did it take to plan the Lip Dub?
C: When the last dub wrapped, we started planning this one.

HT: We started to plan the 2018 Lip Dub on the day of the 2017 Lip Dub. Mrs. Cohen and Ms. Tobin put in the building permit that same day, so it was a guarantee that we would be able to use the whole building.

T: We started planning the second last year’s Dub wrapped. Cohen and I have a Google doc where we just start dumping “Wouldn’t this be cool!” and “What about this song?” and so on. So it took a year. And we started for next year’s exactly the same way — we are already planning it. “How will you top yourselves?” everyone asks. By planning for a year, that’s how.

TW: Which scene was the hardest to film?
C: The hardest to film was the gym scene, I think. It was a lot of people to choreograph and time was running short.

HT: The gym scene was the hardest to film because there were a lot of moving pieces in a small space. The drone shot at the beginning of that scene was definitely a big challenge.

T: [Definitely] the gym scenes, since we had two to do in there back-to-back, and it was the end of the day, and energy and enthusiasm [were] starting to wane.

TW: What was the most difficult thing about planning the Lip Dub?
C: It is difficult to know how the entire student body is going to react during filming and whether or not they will like the music or vibe with the concept of the scene. I am always thrilled to see how students embrace the scenes, come out with their own creativity and are a big part of bringing each scene to life. It is one thing to imagine it in your head, but another to see what the students come up with on the spot and contribute to an amazing dub.

HT: I started planning this year’s lip dub at the end of last year’s when I purchased the camera stabilizer. From there I started to train myself on the new equipment in preparation for this year. The night before we filmed the AgriScience building I drove to B&H photo in Manhattan to buy the glidecam vest to use the next day. That night after getting back from the city, I stayed up until 3 A.M. to charge all of the batteries and to start and learn how to control the equipment to get the best footage possible.

T: Well the planning is a lot of work, but honestly, on the day of it’s the “getting people to listen.” Everyone is so excited and so hyped, I feel like I have to do a ton of “People! Listen!!!” again and again to set up the shot the way we need it. And you don’t get everyone’s attention the first time by a long shot.

TW: What was your favorite part of the Lip Dub?
C:
My favorite part was being able to work with more of the staff as we opened up the choreography of different scenes to staff who wanted to volunteer. It was great to collaborate with more faculty and see their creativity come to life. I also love the live versions we did of the choirs, bands and dance teams. That was truly unique and really showcased the different things that the school has to offer.

HT: My favorite part of the Lip Dub is how things fall into place out of nowhere and become the big things that make the video so special. For example when we were filming in the gym, two students decided they were going to do an unplanned dance during their portion of dubbing, which gave that part the energy it needs before leading into “We Will Rock You.”
T: I have a lot of favorite parts of the Lip Dub, but really, my most favorite thing is seeing all the happy faces and how much effort and energy so many of our kids put into it. It really is like our school calling card, and it says “Look how beautiful we are, look how much we love each other, look what we can accomplish all together.”

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