A parody of the Frozen song Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?performed and filmed by two college students took first place in a university film contest and has since gone viral — something that may not have happened had these students not put their college courses to use during production.
Music composition major Jené Nicole Johnson and film major Olivia Mowry produced the mini-musical parody for the Point Loma Nazarene University TV and Film Festival on May 1. Two days after winning the contest, the duo posted Do You Wanna Go To Starbucks?
on YouTube, and the video now has more than 1.6 million page views.
Let's take a look behind the scenes to see what went into making this video and how their college courses helped them get there.
One day, Johnson was sitting in French class and wanted some coffee. She was thinking about who she could ask to go with her when all of a sudden, she heard the lyrics for a song about coffee in her head to the tune of Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?
She amused herself by posting the lyrics in her Facebook status on March 31, and someone commented that she should make a video with it.
Jokingly, Johnson talked with her classmate, Mowry, about producing a video. But the talk died away until the San Diego university's 11th annual film competition came around. Mowry saw the competition as the perfect opportunity for them to create the video, so they did.
The Communication and Theatre departments host the festival and invite students to create a two-minute video in two weeks. Before Easter, the pair spent an evening shooting the parody in such places as the university library. Johnson sang and danced her way around as she looked for someone who would go with her to Starbucks, and Mowry made a cameo appearance as the student who didn't like coffee, which is actually a true statement for her.
For this video, all Mowry used was one camera attached to a monopod that allowed her to move quickly from place to place. It was easy to produce the video this way, and the results were quite good, Mowry said.
These low budget production skills come from two years of actually creating videos for her production classes. And those two years of figuring out what works by trial and error helped her learn.
"That has more value than any textbook, any lecture could ever give you," Mowry said.
Both the film and music composition programs focus on hands-on learning, and it's paid off for Johnson as well. She recently took classes on how to write music in audio interfaces including Pro Tools, Logic and Cubase. And she used what she learned to record the vocals, arrange the music and mix audio for the video through these programs.
Even though this wasn't a class project, Johnson's professors gave her honest feedback when she shared her audio mixes with them during production, and her voice coach helped her with the vocals as well. In the end, Johnson and Mowry turned out a winning video that had people laughing and crying at the end.
Because of that emotional reaction from their peers, the pair decided to post it on YouTube, and the page views started racking up.
Neither one of them set out to make a viral video; they made it because of their love for music and film. Their creation just happened to go viral.
While Mowry has made many videos before, this is the first to spread like wildfire. And that just goes to show that film students should never give up; they should continue creating videos that allow them to express themselves, she said.
Mowry has one year left of college before she plans to take off for Los Angeles with the hope of becoming a Hollywood director. And after graduating on May 10, Johnson is headed to L.A. as well to pursue a career in film composition.
"It's a great way to go out of school with a bang," Johnson said.