UVIC00The room was filled with anticipation – it had been almost one full month since we had all been together. 

To see this amazing video click HERE.

I approached the microphone and asked the crowd if they were ready to see what they had accomplished...I took the roar of the crowd as an affirmative.  I went and turned off the lights, and took my seat behind the computer screen.  I pressed play and the music began to play through the speakers.

A few months earlier, I had been sent a link to a video on YouTube, of students and staff at UVIC lip-synching and dancing to “Hey Soul Sister” by Train.  I was taken aback by the energy and excitement of the video – I was so proud to be a UVic student!  The video looked incredible, and I could feel the sense of community through the computer screen.  Even celebrity blogger Perez Hilton had posted a link to the video on his blogUVIC07 – “Way to go, UVIC! There are some talented people up in Canada.”  However, after watching the video a couple of times, I was a bit confused as to why I couldn’t recognize any of the buildings or the students in the video, and then clued in to the fact that it was likely done by another school with the same name as ours.  Truth be told, Perez had mistakenly attributed this video to UVic (University of Victoria in Canada) when in fact it was filmed by UVIC (the Universitat de Vic in Spain). See news story:  Click HERE.

Shortly thereafter, I decided that we at the real UVic (the one in Canada) have to respond with a video of our own.  The style of video that they shot is called a “lipdub” (a combination of lip-synching and audio dubbing), where the goal is to gather as many individuals as possible, spread them throughout one location, and have them sing and dance to a particular song as the camera travels around. 


After seeing the video, I threw together a Facebook Group entitled “UVic Lipdub – Be a Part of a Viral Video” and sent out invitations to my school friends.  I wanted to see if there was any interest from students on campus.  In a matter of a few short days, the invites had spread to more than 3000 students, and at that point it was pretty clear to me that there were other individuals interested in doing this. 


I wanted to use competition as a means of bringing students out and engaging in the lipdub project, and luckily for us, we had the other UVIC to thank for having started the competition (unbeknownst to them).  However, the primary reason that I decided to do this was to build some community on our University campus.  I wanted to help bridge the gaps that existed between groups of students, as well as those between faculties and departments.  Outside of having to organize all of the logistics of making a movie, I knew that job alone was going to be a huge task.


As soon as I was aware that there was some interest in the project from other students, I started the process of organizing the actual video.  I didn’t have any movie experience, nor did I have any theatrical knowledge – though the video itself was outside of my comfort zone, I was more than driven to show the world that we could make UVic known!  With my lacking knowledge, I started the process if seeking out as much information as I could.  I wanted people to suggest song ideas, filming locations, gimmicks – any information and advice someone wanted to offer, I was willing to listen to.  

I put together a few different “form letters” with which I could send to different individuals that I felt may be interested in participating in theUVIC13 lipdub, or who had information and/or resources that would be beneficial to the project.  I wrote letters to university administration, department and faculty Chairs, businesses, university recruiters, corporate sponsors, charitable organizations, and clubs – individuals who I believe could assist us with the project.  Shortly after these letters were sent, things started to take shape.

I put a call out for a choreographer and a camera crew, and I set a meeting, open to anyone, who had ideas about the video and what they wanted to see happen.


At the first meeting, I got a lot of input from other students about what they wanted to see in the video, the style of the filming, and the overall approach to the project.  After other students had the opportunity to express their ideas for the project, it was time to start to make the important decisions.  What song(s) are we going to do?  Where are we going to do it?  How do we want to finish the lipdub? 

UVIC06Through the Facebook group, more than 100 different songs were suggested as potentials for this project.  I knew that I wanted to keep the song upbeat, mainstream, and ideally Canadian.  After the list was narrowed down to about seven songs, I started to play around with them individually to try and meet our desired duration, and I also tried to contact the record labels that held the rights to these songs. This process took a lot longer than I had expected, but it was a vital part.  I wanted to ensure that we wouldn’t run into any legal issues from using the song, and as such I was on a quest to get a “Synchronization License”.  Following a positive response from Michael Bublé’s record label (Warner-Chappel), it was decided that “Haven’t Met You Yet” would be the song of choice.

Once the song was chosen, the difficult task of finding locations and deciding upon the route was upon me.  There were a lot of suggestions as to where we should be filming on campus, and I started to work my way through the list.  I did it with my iPod in hand, listening to the song over and over again until I found a route that worked well with the lyrics and that I was happy with.  This decision making not only revolved around what I wanted to see in the video, but I took in as many suggestions as I could from others.  The final route was based largely on our desire to finish the video with an overhead shot of crowd, traveling through the central hub of campus, and displaying some of the unique architecturally appealing buildings on campus.


The route that was decided upon was extremely rough.  As such, I threw together a very rough storyboard, which I knew was likely going to beUVIC04 changed and manipulated.  The reason I took this rough approach was due to the fact that I had zero experience in the filming industry – once I could find a crew, ideally they would change things up to ensure that we maximizing the potential of our locations.

I received an email from one of my friends who had been contacted by a local company, asking about his involvement in the project.  I was forwarded the company’s contact information, and set up a coffee meeting.  As we sat in Starbucks on the warm, August afternoon, I was amazed at the quality of the work that this company was capable of producing.  He was excited about the prospect of being involved in this major community endeavour, and I was ecstatic about the quality of his filming.  That very same meeting, I shook hands with Chris Ruffell of Aclara Promotions – I now had my film crew.


Once the large components of the project were checked off of my list of things to do, it was time to start working on the video itself and the details involved in its production.

I got together a group of people together who had some interest and experience doing some marketing.  Since the tangible result of this project was a video, we chose a “movie” theme for our marketing approach – we did movie posters, a movie trailer, and radio advertisements, in our attempt to ensure everyone in Victoria was aware that this project was taking place, and that they could be a part of it if they choose.

UVIC09Social media was the glue that held this project together, and made it possible.  Without Facebook, the ability to reach all of the lipdub participants would have been difficult, if not impossible.  With a click of the mouse, I was able to connect with more than 5000 students, faculty and staff at the University of Victoria, and share with them the necessary information to help with the progress of the project.  Twitter, Four Square and YouTube were also used to help spread the word of the through both the UVic community and the community of Victoria.


It was not a necessity to have a lot of money pouring into this project to ensure that it is was success, but it was going to assist us in making the project as big as we could.  Much of our determination of success depended on your purpose and goals that we set out at the get go, and the quality of the video was not our primary goal.  I used the network available to me to try and gain access to different companies who may be interested in participating in the project – the employees at Corporate Relations at my university were a huge help, as were other individuals involved in the project.  We developed a sponsorship package that was delivered to different businesses, requesting either product (i.e.: food or drinks for the participants on the day of filming) or a financial investment (i.e.: grant money).  In exchange for a company’s donation, we could offer them advertising (leading up to filming, on the day of filming, as well as in the video).  It was clear that we didn’t want to make the video look “corporate” so we naturally placed products throughout the video so as to provide a moderate amount of advertising for the companies that assisted with the lipdub, in addition to logos and names in the credits of the video.


The most important thing someone told me while organizing this project was “Don’t over-plan the lipdub!”  This was the key piece of advice that I was told at the very beginning of the planning process, and I truly believe it made my life much easier.  When anticipating one-thousand people to come together and participate in something, it is inevitable that issues will arise, and something unexpected will happen. 

The day of filming will likely be hectic, and maybe a little stressful.  Get people to help you, and let other people give their input.  You cannot do a project like this on your own, and the more heads you have working on it, the better it will be.  If you are prepared to accept that your initial plans may need to change, you are set!

We launched our video on Saturday October 23rd, 2010 shortly after midnight.  In a matter of hours, the views on the video skyrocketed, and have surpassed more than 100,000 views in less than one week.  The media has picked up the story, and has helped to further spread the joy and excitement that this project brought to our campus.

When I started the planning stage, I knew that my goal of organizing a lipdub was to build community on campus.  When I got home on the night of September 25th, after a full day of filming the video, I went onto Facebook, and the success of the project was seen almost immediately.  There were hundreds of photos uploaded with smiling faces, and happy people – I knew then and there that I had accomplished what I set out to do.  The comments and compliments, the friendships and networking, and the experience and stress – it was all worth it.

I would have been more than happy to finish the project on September 25th and not even throw the video online, because for me the project was already a success.  The reception and positive comments that this video has received just makes it that much better – it’s the icing on the cake.


Shawn Slavin is a graduating student at the University of Victoria, Britixh Columbia, Canada.  He is majoring in Chemistry, Psycology and Business and has NO experience in film or theatre.  

All of us at School Video News think he's missing his calling!