Filming with a 40 Pound Live Albino Snake

Jordan00The hit TV show, Glee, ran ads on TV to enter a contest to win $50,000 for school music programs in jeopardy; our school went for it!

It was going to take an entertaining video while showing our need to stand up to the expected competition. We knew we needed that money and wanted to win, so we had to go over the top. We got kids to play the main characters on Glee like, Rachel, Puck, Finn, and Quinn. Then came the moment when we decided to add in one of Glee’s most memorable scenes, Brittany (off Glee), like Britney Spears, with the big Albino around their neck singing and moving. We contacted Dan the Snake Man, he got us an “in” with a yellow look-a-like snake, known as Boo!Jordan01

When Dan the Snake Man pulled that snake out of the van, it was like I was on the set of Animal Planet, but I felt like dropping my camera and running. I knew I had to stick with my sister though, and film like the snake was just a stuffed animal. Tip #1: when your biggest prop happens to be a 40 pound Albino snake, and you have a slight fear of snakes, don’t panic when it starts moving its head right at your camera. You have to focus on your job and rely on the tripod to keep your camera steady because you could be shaking like crazy.

Tip #2: If you’re really scared like I was, take advantage of your zoom button, you don’t have to get closer to the snake than you want to, but you can still zoom in for the close up shot. Plus is could be safer if the snake gets a bit wild. Another advantage of zooming with a live animal is that you can zoom out to show how giant your animal is, but be sure and zoom in on the animals head moving, so that your audience can see that it is real. Some people who saw the video thought the snake was fake until they saw the head move right at my sister’s face.  This adds drama and makes it more exotic to draw your audience in.  Also, your talent is going to be nervous, just like you, if not, even more. So, zoom in on your talents face, so you can see the sweat on their forehead, and again, a more dramatic realistic scene in your video.

Jordan02As nervous as I was about having to film with a live snake, I couldn’t forget that my sister was the one who had to carry the snake around her neck more than half her weight. Tip #3; your talent might get nervous with a 40 pound dangerous snake around their neck, so to make things easier for you and your talent, have the talent do a voiceover of their words before they go to shoot the scene. Once you have the sound set, when their filming you can spend less time worrying about how they sound, and spend more time getting the good clip with the snake around her neck.

Getting the perfect shot can also be a tense situation when it comes to filming with a live animal. When you know that you onlyjordan04 get that one day to work with the animal, time is crucial and everything matters. When you finally get that perfect scene, you feel a slight relief, but remember something could go technically wrong with your filming. You could accidentally delete the clip, thinking you are deleting something else, you might not have had the button on record, your battery might not have been strong enough, anything could go wrong, so always film a safety take. Tip #4; once you film the shot that makes you happy; always remember to shoot a second, safety take. It’s smart to shoot your scene one extra time for backup.

Filming with live animals can be dangerous, but it is also really fun at the same time to take on something new you fear. This isn’t something you get to do every day, so when you have the opportunity to film with a live snake and it is beneficial for your school, do it. This scene was a really awesome scene to film, and I’m really glad I was able to do it. Tune in to Glee or go online to www.gleegiveanote.com in mid-December, 2011 to see if we won a place!


JordanWorkingJordan Rice is a junior in High School in upstate New York. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a member of Cortland County Youth Leadership, Co-Captain of the Varsity Cheerleading Squad, part of the Rotary Youth Leadership, a member of drama club where she acts in school plays, and treasurer of French club.

She is Editor of her school’s district newspaper The Lion's Roar sent to 1,900 readers. Jordan has been published in 2011 and 2012 in the Syracuse Post Standard for Student Voices. Some School Video News blogs include stories with the New York Giants, Orange County Choppers, Ironman 70.3, and Courtside to Get the Shot at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Jordan hopes to attend college to pursue a career in sports journalism.