SouthWest Side Story

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November 3, 2011

11:29 PM

For years, Williamsburg has been the site of a drawn-out feud. Acts of warfare perpetually interrupt Williamsburg resident’s otherwise peaceful Saturday; noise violations at 3 a.m. disturb whole neighborhoods. Tyrannical laws prevent students from taking advantage of affordable off-campus housing with more than two roommates. A modern grudge that, this Saturday, will reach new heights.

Traditionally, film studies professor Tim Barnard’s upper level film studies class puts together the annual Global Film Festival. This year, however, they are presenting both Williamsburg residents and College of William and Mary students with a new opportunity: to reenact the classic musical West Side Story on a local, unconventional stage.

“What we’re wondering most is, will the TWAMPs come out to rumble or are they too afraid of the townies?” Barnard said.

SouthEast Side Story: A Williamsburg Community Musical will be filmed this Saturday at 12 p.m. at the Kimball Theatre. Done as a LipDub, the movie will consist of local residents, students, shop owners and community leaders. Some of the best-known names include College President Taylor Reveley, Williamsburg mayor Clyde Haulman, and Colonial Williamsburg President Colin Campbell. Chef David Everett and a gang of other Blue Talon chefs will be making an appearance, planning to rumble with the College’s fencing team.
While the theme of the LipDub is set to the traditional gang tale of West Side Story, the aim of the event is one of unity.

“The goal is the same [as] the Film Festival — bringing the community and the College together through film,” Madeline Chessman ’12, one of the organizers of the LipDub, said.

What is a LipDub?
The term LipDub is a combination of lip synching and audio dubbing. The purpose is to choose a song, a setting, and a large group of people, then film them singing the song in one continuous shot. Usually, the camera moves between different areas and films various groups of people who are putting on short shows or stunts to flow with the lyrics in the song, then the shots are edited together.

The original song is put over the audio in the video to make it seem that the group itself is singing the song, as though it were a music video. Oftentimes the songs are longer than the standard three to four minutes. Grand Rapids, Mich., conducted a massive, very popular LipDub and used a live version of Don McLean’s “American Pie,” which was nine minutes long. Remixes of well known songs are also used, along with older pop songs, such as “Nobody But Me,” by the Human Beinz, used in the LipDub featured on the popular television show “The Office.”

The History of the LipDub
In 2006, Jakob Lodwick, the co-creator of Vimeo.com, created the first LipDub when he filmed himself singing a song on his headphones, then placed the original MP3 version of the song over the video, coining the term LipDub. A university in Germany did the first student version of this popular form of music video. They have become popular tools of teambuilding for corporations, an idea which extends past the business model and has helped cities as well. In June 2011, Grand Rapids created one of the most successful LipDubs ever done, involving thousands of citizens and raising $40,000 for the video. The project was a response to an article by Newsweek that labeled the Michigan town as one of America’s dying cities.

“SouthEast Side Story”
The musical “West Side Story” is a version of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and is considered to be a cult classic. The Global Film Festival aims to retell the classic story on local grounds, with all variations of locals participating. Along with putting on a mock battle with the College fencing team, Blue Talon Bistro chefs will be providing free coffee. Bagels will also be provided on Saturday morning, along with spiced cider, donated by the Trellis. The food will be given away on a first come first serve basis.

Though LipDubs are usually long, complicated events, Barnard’s class has made the event as short as possible. Extras are encouraged to arrive at noon to find their spots, and filming is scheduled to stop at 2:30. Sequences will move between the Kimball theatre, Duke of Gloucester street between Bruton Parish church and Market Square, the Wren building, and the Brafferton. Reveley, Campbell, and Haulman will be filming earlier, shots that include a special closing popcorn sequence.

While groups are encouraged to register at the Global Film Festival’s website, extras are welcome to come and participate so long as they arrive at noon.

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