Success Stories

Video project with senior citizens draws international attention

Some very special senior citizens in Grand Rapids have taken the media world by storm thanks to a group of faculty, alumni and students at Grand Valley. What started as an interesting idea has grown way beyond anyone’s expectation by receiving a stunning amount of attention from traditional and social media.

These are not just any group of seniors, but the stars of what may be the nation’s first LipDub performed solely by residents of a retirement community - produced through the joint efforts of Clark Retirement Community and Grand Valley.

The Clark LipDub premiered July 11, 2011 at a private screening for residents and their families. Within days of the video posting on YouTube it “went viral” and was awarded “most viewed” in countries ranging from Egypt to Sweden. The wildly popular video has also played on national television news and programs including the Today Show, Good Morning America and Inside Edition.

Michael Buble’s cover of “Feelin’ Good” sets the pace and an infectious mood throughout the six-minute production. In more than a dozen unique scenes, residents reenact the glamorous days of yesteryear and poke fun at stereotypical views of aging. From a synchronized swim scene to prune juice cocktails, more than 100 Clark residents gave their all throughout a grueling three hours of shooting.

Jane Brierley, director of Marketing and Admissions at Clark asked Kim Roberts to help assemble a production crew for Clark. Roberts, associate professor of film and video in the School of Communications, produced the GVSU LipDub, which broke the Top 100 in YouTube’s “Entertainment” category shortly after it was posted online last fall.

Roberts gathered recent graduates Alan Ledford, director; James Morse, director of photography; and André Guimond for visual effects and a section editor. Current film & video students involved in the production include Dayna Campbell, producer; Chris Coleman, 1st assistant director; Brian Kung, art director; and Christopher Greene, sound designer. Assisting on the set were other faculty members from the School of Communications, including Deanna Morse, Danielle Wiese Leek, Gretchen Vinnedge and Maggie Annerino.

“I think what most surprised everyone was how the young crew and Clark residents bonded with each other,” said Roberts. “It was a win-win project all the way around.”

by Mary Isca Pirkola