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West Forsyth wins high school Emmy for lip dub video
West TV
West Forsyth's Nate McGahee, Rachel Schneeberg, John White, Erika Cross and Turner Denicola are part of the team that won a high school Emmy for the schools popular lip dub video. Below, John Whites students huddle around the numerous switch panels and monitors in the control room of the production studio. - photo by Micah Green

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* West Forsyth High School is holding its fourth annual Broadcast Video Ceremony awards at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the school, 4155 Drew Road, during which the lip dub and other videos will be shown. Tickets are $8.

* Watch the lip dub video.

* Studio Forsyth recently caught up with the crew. Watch the show here.

WEST FORSYTH — You may have seen the video. More than 24,000 people have. It’s one shot that takes you through West Forsyth High, with students lining the walls, jumping in front of the camera to sing and dance to Fitz & the Tantrums’ “The Walker.” And it just won a high school Emmy.

Planning and pre-production for the lip dub video — a music video that covers a song and features people lip-syncing lyrics — began in January, said John White, arts, audio and video technology and film teacher at West.

The third take was the charm, and the project will culminate in June when it receives a Southeast Student Production Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

The award is the “icing on the cake” for a group of about 35 students, mostly seniors, who have worked together throughout high school.

“It’s one of the best groups I’ve ever had come together,” said White of his two advanced production classes in the broadcasting department, “and ending with this type of award proves their hard work and dedication.”

On the day of production, almost the entire student body showed up. The teenagers were dressed in club T-shirts. They were decked out with school garb. They were waving lacrosse sticks, pom-poms, helmets, signs, throwing confetti, sporting beads, a mascot head, leis, foam fingers, band instruments, soccer balls, basketballs, beach balls, balloons. Gold. Blue.

 

The little details

 

The product may be the video, but the lessons were just as important.

“It showed them how much preparation and planning and logistics it really takes to do something on this scale,” White said. “Meeting deadlines, organization, working with administration, working together as an entire team on a common goal.

“That kind of experience they can take with them into the real world, as opposed to filling out a worksheet.”

And his students intend to use what they learned through the lip dub video to continue their careers.

“Organizing 2,000 people is difficult, but with my team we did it,” said Turner Denicola, director of the video. “Our main rule for them was we had to let the main talent hear the music, so the kids could be cheering but not too loud.”

Denicola walked just behind the camera man through the entire 4-and-a-half-minute take. Three other camera people were pulled in a cart behind him, helping with focus, stabilization and movement.

He said he plans to attend Georgia State University for film after he graduates from West at the end of the month.

The hardest part of making the video, he said, was planning the little details. Like where every club and sport was positioned. Or editing the song to put in a student-written rap about the school.

“For about a month and a half we would go in the hallway, and we would walk to route,” he said. “From outside to the gym, making sure the timing was perfect. I walked it hundreds of times.”

 

Finding a story

 

Denicola was not the only student who was pushed during the process.

Rachel Schneeberg was an associate producer and was on screen, saying preparation was “one of the most stressful” parts.

“But on the day, when the camera was coming it was like an adrenaline rush,” she said.

Schneeberg said she wants to go to film school for journalism.

The hardest part for her, she said, was getting other students excited for filming.

“So many of the seniors, they weren’t really into it at first. They thought it was lame and didn’t want to be in it. I was surprised to see so many people dressed up,” she said.

The excitement worked, said Scarlett Fulbright, a junior who was on the camera crew and was one of the three on the cart.

Fulbright, like the others, has been interested in news and movies and found White’s class. She said she wants to go to college for film and eventually work in movies or television.

“[The Emmy] gave me validation that all of our hard work not only paid off through our peers but that a big group of judges in that community respected us,” Fulbright said. “A lot of people thought what we were doing was lame, but this year helped with the new administration. People have already come up to me with ideas for next year. A lot more people want to be involved.”

“I want high school to be a place where kids want to be,” said Principal Heather Gordy. “The kids have been supporting one another, and that’s the key.”

White was one of the first teachers hired at West.

“That day,” he said of filming, “everyone seemed to think it was the most spirited day they’ve ever seen in the history of West.”