Dreyfoos 2020 Lip DUB
The story
It started with a YouTube recommendation for the 2018 EHS LIP DUB and ended with a multi-hour binge into the infinite depths of the internet. Something about a student body coming together to showcase the best of their accomplishments lit a spark of inspiration within me. My high school: Dreyfoos School of the Arts - a campus rich with singers, dancers, artists, musicians, and ample creativity often performs for the same crowds, and I recognized the potential to connect with a much larger audience. What better way than a one-take, school-wide music video? I knew that I could make it happen— so I did.
The first step called for a phone call to my sophomore class president who then directed me to the sponsor of the DSOA student government association. While my pitch was pushed away by the student government at first, a concrete plan, a persistent mindset, and a defined vision turned into a project that had the student government on board. While SGA took the lead on drawing the camera path, choosing the music, and selecting the lip singers, I took on scheduling after-school rehearsals, perfecting the camera movement, leading meetings, and directing the singers. When Tuesday, January 29 came, the second day of our annual spirit week, 1,400 students lined up, gave it their all and completed the first-ever DSOA lip dub. The video found its way onto my YouTube channel, where it was shared with the student body and received nearly 20,000 views— in the first week alone. This project inspired me to run for the Historian position in my student government association. I could continue to use my passion for filmmaking to foster school spirit and academic dedication and, more importantly, create a greater sense of community. As I envisioned a school year ahead, I knew it was just the beginning.

In the Winter of 2019, my school’s administration approved the production of a second lip dub - this time, I would take the lead from the very beginning. I came full circle to start once again at the drawing board, assisted by another YouTube lip dub binge. Soon, a collaborative brainstorm turned into a concrete vision, and I came to understand the year prior that I could not do it alone. However, as a school driven by student leaders, it was important to me that this project would be 100% student-produced. A successful project called for student-led committees chosen by the dean of each art department. I met with all of them to draw a path for the camera, choose lip singers, and decide which areas of our school we would like to showcase. Together we found ways to improve and stand out from all other schools.
One night, just three weeks before we were scheduled to film, I had a dream; I was studying in an academic classroom when all of a sudden, the walls of the room fell apart. All of the students vanished, revealing a stage on which dancers passionately performed, and the crowd erupted with applause. Upon waking up, I knew that something as far-fetched and complex as that vision was achievable with the right mindset. It belonged in the lip dub.
For weeks, I arrived at school early and spent my lunch break shaving plywood, coating it with multiple layers of powder-white paint, and then using a nail gun to wire what were now classroom walls to the roof of my school’s auditorium. With some posters, spare desks, and a whiteboard, I watched a classroom erupt before my eyes - yet it could fly apart, revealing the bare darkness of the space in mere seconds. It was the perfect opening to the video. In the following days, I took a chance and used my experience in video editing and sound design to pick school-appropriate music and blend it together seamlessly in Final Cut Pro X. I was challenged with timing each song to the path of the camera to flow accordingly. I used my lunch breaks to ensure that it all worked together flawlessly.
The final weeks before filming consisted of leading after-school rehearsals, decorating the path, and making sure that the school appeared clean. As I crafted the choreography and camera movements, I worked closely with my school’s administration to make sure that all visible grass was trimmed evenly and the school was free of insects that would interfere with both the performers and myself.
I previously decided that I would film the video using the Sony a7III for its 4k resolution, advanced autofocus, and 60 frames per second recording speed that would allow me to slow parts down if needed. When it came time to film, all SGA officers managed their assigned sections to make sure that all 1400 students were in their assigned positions. We faced many last-minute challenges: absent singers, missing props, broken sets, and confused students - just to name a few.  
Four sweaty takes and one lip dub later, we were almost done. As we approached completion, I envisioned a grand ending! All students would cheer and wave in costume in a tracking aerial shot revealing the entirety of the student body. Under strict city drone regulations, we coordinated with our school district to have a drone pilot arrive and capture the shot. The only issue - his drone was out of battery! As an avid Ariel videographer myself, I came prepared! As all 1400 students piled into the front of our school, I sprinted across campus against the clock to retrieve my drone from my car in the school parking lot.
Later, to the beat of AJR’s “Burn the House Down,” my drone took flight over the crowd suspended by their spirit 50 meters into the air. My heart raced, knowing that one slip of my thumb could have it crashing down into the sea of fiery students. Minutes later, it touched down with a sigh of relief. 
I took the shots home, imported, colored, stabilized, and posted IT to my YouTube channel. Today, our second annual lip dub has more than 530,000 views.

The annual A.W Dreyfoos School of the Arts Lip Dub has become a spirit week tradition that allows our school to come together to showcase the best of our arts, clubs, sports, and school spirit. This year, the 8-minute video was 100% student-produced and features eventful, nonstop spirit to fill the screen and give the community a taste of our Dreyfoos culture.
Today, I reflect on that cold Florida afternoon on which YouTube’s mysterious algorithm decided that I would engage with a high school from Washington State. While today I am left with some invaluable experiences, friendships, and lessons from directing 1,400 students to my imagination, I can reflect on the importance of being persistent and using my passion to make a difference. Nonetheless, I have learned never to underestimate the power of a YouTube binge.