Melissa Fiddick and Zachary Friesenspring into action. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
Melissa Fiddick and Zachary Friesenspring into action. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
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FRIDAY, MAY 18: Warwick Academy is about to be taken over by an eruption of talent, in what is perhaps one of the most ambitious school film projects the island has seen to date.

The entire student population, and majority of staff at the school, are to star in an eight-minute, continuously shot film featuring everything from musicians, dancers and gymnasts to skateboarders, horse riders and skiers.

Following the format of the Internet craze LipDub, the film will be set to music with the students lip synching to the words and, with a bit of luck and militaryoperation timing, filmed in one continuous shot throughout the school.

The cameraman will make his way through corridors, classrooms and outdoor areas where hundreds of pupils will be awaiting their cues to sing, dance, skip, cook, ride, somersault, skateboard and a multitude of other pursuits in this diverse line-up of talents.

As a backdrop to this frenzy of activity, there will be explosions, confetti machines, industrial party poppers, gunpowder trails, balloon arches, and even a purpose built beach and snow scape.

Bermuda’s culture and heritage are an important element of the project — there will be Gombey dancing and even the little Bermuda tour train.

The students have been rehearsing for weeks during their lunch breaks and after school.

Asked whether the filming on the day might disrupt her school, Principal Maggie McCorkell said: “Absolutely!” But she admits that as soon as she was approached about the film, she was sold.

Maths teacher Richard Cunningham came up with the idea to do the LipDub, as his previous school — Friend’s School in Northern Ireland — did a similar film that attracted nearly half a million hits online.

McCorkell said: “When Richard sent me the YouTube link I thought wow — this is something we must do.

“This is certainly a first for Warwick Academy and we are pretty sure it is a first for Bermuda.

“It is doing a lot for school spirit it is bringing everybody together, even just in the preparations, and it will do a lot on the day.

“I don’t know what the neighbours might think — they will probably think the school’s gone crackers!”

The film comes during of Warwick Academy’s 350th anniversary year and will be filmed early next month.

Cunningham, who will be shooting the film, told the Bermuda Sun: “It’s a massive project but visually it is going to be spectacular. It’s a really good way to represent Warwick Academy and Bermuda.

“The main idea was to promote the school in a positive light because every pupil will be featured from primary up to secondary and every member of staff.

“The 350th tied it in perfectly.”

While hundreds of students have rehearsed parts to play in the film, many will be able to adlib on the day  to provide spontaneity.

Cunningham added: “We wanted to see as many parts of the school as possible — there are certain parts we thought we had to include like the assembly hall, the school field and the swimming pool.

We thought one of the science labs could be good visually in terms of having an explosion during an experiment. There will be a lot of sport in the video — we have Charles Smith who was in Carifta who is fantastic at high jumps, we have the football team, volleyball team, equestrians — so there will be horses...”

The school is to be split up into 15 zones and in each zone there will be a team leader, a group of students and some staff members waiting for the camera to arrive. Following the cameraman through the various zones will be a student with a ghetto blaster playing the three songs the students will lip-sync to. The film opens with Wet, Wet, Wet’s Little Help From My Friends, followed by Dance With Me Tonight by Olly Murs and ending with Rule the World by Take That.

At the end of the film all the students run out on to the playing field and run into formation to spell out WA for Warwick Academy.

Cunningham has enlisted the help of head of drama and theatre arts Chris Jones to help him to orchestrate the project and direct the students.

Jones said: “Every time we rehearse it, we are like two old men — it is exhausting!

“I’m behind the cameraman with a mega phone shouting to all the students — it is pandemonium aurally but it doesn’t matter because the songs will be edited over the top in the film.”

Year 12 student Anna Dobson is to appear in the last zone of the continuously shot film so there is a lot of pressure on her not to mess up.

“If I mess that up everyone is going hate me!” she joked. “There is a lot of pressure on me to make it good. I do have to walk down a few stairs backwards next to the swimming pool so I am going to have to start practicing that.

“This not like anything I have ever done before — I have been involved in a lot of shows but they are always so well rehearsed and you know exactly what you are doing for the whole play. It’s going to be very different but also a lot of fun.”

Morgan Swan, year 12, has been dancing for 13 years but for her also, this is something completely new.

She will perform an umbrella dance under a sprinkler by the pool with some other students. “I love to dance and being able to do it on the LipDub is a definite plus for me.

“I’m sure it will be challenging at times but still a fun experience for sure,” she said.

Anna said that the creation of the film so far had been a unifying experience.

She said: “You know most of the people throughout the school but I can’t think of a time where the senior school and primary school have been all together at an event so I think that will be a lot of fun. On the day you are going to be with everybody and I definitely think it will be good school spirit in that way.”

The film will be available from June 28 on www.warwickacad.bm, the Academy’s Virtual Learning Environment and via www.youtube.com and copies of the DVD will eventually become available for sale. There will also be a “making of” film released around the same time filmed by a year 10 student.