By Kevin Jiang
“Three, two, one, start!” During a seemingly ordinary afternoon at South, something unordinary is happening right outside the doors of the music hallway – junior Steven Lin is working on his music video that will bring him onto the stage of the Grammys.
Casual observers passing by the scene can hear a mixture of argument and laughter, all playing to the soundtrack of the world-famous Korean pop song “Gangnam Style.” At this point, Lin is like a ghost, floating from set to set, trying to get his cast and crew organized; at times, he seems to regret the fact that he forgot to bring a loudspeaker, because his voice does not project enough to get his team’s attention.
“It always starts like this because this is the first time that I am both directing a music video of my own and working with so many people,” Lin said.
Why is Lin in the middle of so much chaos? Someone who follows his instinct and never looks back, Lin has taken on a challenging new project: to write, direct, and film his own music video.
For someone who is playing the role of director for the first time in his life, Lin has a lot of confidence both in himself and the crew. “They are the best people in the world; I couldn’t have done so much without them,” he said.
Even though the “Gangnam Style” video is his first project, Lin has always loved photography and acting; he is currently taking Improv, and he is involved in the school’s winter play. Both of these activities have given him the courage to do this project.
As for the real inspiration, the credit should be given to PSY, the Korean singer. Lin admitted that every time he watched the original “Gangnam Style” music video, he put on a pair of sunglasses and irresistibly started shaking his body and singing the only parts he knew: “Heyyyy, sexy lady!” and “Oppa, gangnam style!”
Though Lin is playing the role of a sloppy high school student in the music video, when the camera shifts away from him, he is as strict as some of the famous conservative film directors like James Cameron. Lin said, “I required them to act based on every tempo of the video. I really want it to be as perfect as it gets.” This includes Lin’s own acting. During one scene, Lin’s role required him to fall and slide; in order to achieve the perfect fall, Lin paid the price with six new bruises on his knee.
Initially, Lin merely wanted to make an imitation of the original video; however, after seeing so many imitations on YouTube, he decided to take it further. Lin wanted to make something different and unique; thus, he decided to add a story line to the video based on everyday events happening in school.
Lin’s creativity is also shown through his methods of creating special effects. Lin said, “I wanted to make many amazing computer effects, but no one was actually an expert in it, so we had to use whatever real props were available to make my video look as good as it gets.” For instance, to create the special effect of him surrounded by flying leaves, Lin and his crews had to use leaf blowers and man-made leaves.
Lin did run into conflicts with his crew, mostly with his assistant directors, who had different ideas concerning some aspects of the video. One of Lin’s assistant directors, Owen Fang, said, “Sometimes he is just like a dictator. When we want to correct him in something, he will just say, ‘I am the director, you guys have to listen to me.’”
Although Lin can be a bit strict or even imperious, he also has a lovable side. Sometimes, he will laugh at his own mistakes, and he will not be offended when his crew laugh at his errors. Lin always carries a big smile on his face whenever he is shooting, and is more excited than anyone else when he shoots a perfect scene.
Lin welcomed anyone who was interested in participating in his project. There were a total of about 20 students involved, and according to Lin, he didn’t know all these participants in the beginning. “I had never or rarely talked to some of them before this project, but now we are very close friends,” Lin said.
Sometimes, when unfamiliar students walked by his project set and stopped to watch, Lin simply went right up to them, introduced himself and what he was doing, showed them what he had done so far, and asked if they wanted to join.
Lin’s Improv teacher, Mr. Marr, described Lin as creative, positive, funny, hard-working, reliable, and consistent. Mr. Marr also admitted that he eagerly wanted to see the video after it was finished.
The video was finished in early January and is on YouTube for everyone to see. The name of the video is “Gangnam Love Story.”
Meanwhile, Lin is also preparing for his next project, which he implied would be something “huge,” but he declined to go into detail since he wants it to be a surprise. Lin would also like to establish a video club. “It would be a club where students that are interested in movies, acting, or directing could get together and produce videos. I believe making a video would make your college application look good,” Lin said.
Lin has a message for everyone who might be interested in making a video of his or her own. “Take action! Don’t just think! I had an idea of making a video way before this one, but it only existed in my dreams. So if you really want to make something, stop dreaming! Just do it!”
Next time, you should wear the jacket—Junior Steven Lin gives his crew new directions for his “Gangnam Style” music video project.
Photo by Kevin Jiang