“Tic, tic … Boom!” Sound ‘louder than words’ to LA students with Netflix video – Daily News



Students at Los Angeles County High School of the Arts took on a major Netflix challenge to produce a music video for the song “Louder than Words,” the latest in a dozen “tick, tick… BOOM!” Film directed by award-winning actor and director Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame.

And the 57 students and the school staff who supervised them did it all in just under two weeks. A major achievement given that they would normally have months to complete a large-scale production like this.

Miranda’s film adaptation is based on the musical of the same name which never premiered on Broadway.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (Photo by Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP)

It is the story of the late Jonathan Larson, an American composer and playwright, who created the musical and the protagonist.

It is a biographical account of Larson’s struggles to enter the theater industry, navigate his love life and experience the onset of the HIV / AIDS crisis, which then inspired the musical “Rent”, his most famous play, a work credited with reinvigorating Broadway. and American musical theater when it first hit the stage in 1996.

Jonathan Larson (AP file photo)

Larson died in 1996 at the age of 35.

The song “Louder than Words” puts an end to characters and storylines that focus on inequality, injustice, creativity and ambition.

The streaming company approached five schools nationwide, which produced individual videos that were compiled into one now featured on Netflix Film Club YouTube and other platforms.

Drew McClellan, chairman of the high school’s film arts department located on the Cal State LA campus, reached out to two of his top students, Benji Tucker and Vivian Wolfson, to lead the project.

“Benji and Vivian wrote the script in 24 hours,” McClellan said. “We had broad conceptual traits (Netflix) that we wanted to achieve. Benji and Vivian came up with the script and from there gathered the student team, put the film faculty around them to support them.

The duo slipped into the roles of co-producers, co-writers and co-directors.

“We wanted to create a video that we knew we could handle on its own and that Netflix could use however they saw fit and I think they used it beautifully,” McClellan said. “The fact that Benji and Vivian were able to shoot the script in 24 hours not only (highlights) their talent and work ethic, but I think they had a lot of good practices throughout the pandemic in terms of work under tight deadlines. “

Students lost over a year of on-set experience due to the deadly coronavirus.

For some, this almost 6-minute video challenge was their first time collaborating with peers in person and experiencing being on a movie set.

The crew and cast were masked throughout filming, except when the cast was on screen during filming.

The students had just under two weeks after receiving the assignment in mid-October to deliver the final cut.

This is the first time that the school, one of the top visual and performing arts high schools in the country, has worked with Netflix or any production company on this scale.

Andrew Garfield attends “Tic, tick … BOOM!” Netflix’s New York Premiere at the Schoenfeld Theater on November 15, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper / Getty Images)

“We did some collaborative projects with some people already established in the industry, but for Netflix to come and ask us to do something, we were honored and I think the students rose to the challenge,” McClellan said. “Netflix’s contribution was the opportunity, the inspiration, and a high enough self-esteem that we wanted to be a part of this special project. It was all we needed to put the drums behind us and do sensation with our submission.

Wolfson, a 17-year-old from Los Angeles, had little time to show off the skills she had learned over the previous three years.

The team, led by her and Tucker, have had a weekend to write, budget, schedule, put the crew and the cast together and whatever goes into pre-production.

“We’ve written musicals in the past, so we’ve taken a lot of time working on the visual history by going back and watching musicals that we love, which include ‘Rent’ (Jonathan Larson’s musical hit at Broadway), ”Wolfson said. “We felt really lucky to honor (him) in this project. It was a huge challenge. Usually we spend months doing pre-production for a project of this magnitude and we only had a week to do it, but everyone was super collaborative and all of our teachers were really willing to help. We were able to use all the resources in our department… and we brought in a young graduate to be director of photography… overall there was a really happy air on set.

The senior students showed their classmates the tricks of the trade. A recent graduate was brought in to fill the role of the electronic photography directory.

There were students who had never touched a professional camera light before and at the end of the day they set up sets like professionals.

Tucker, an 18-year-old in Tarzana’s film arts program, said the Netflix challenge was a great opportunity to spotlight student work after 20 months of the pandemic.

“It was a (way) to feel like things were back to normal and that we could work as a team again,” Tucker said.

He said that while the experience was uplifting, it was also educational.

“I understand (now) that this is how real directors like can work with such a large crew,” Tucker said. “And all the actors. We also had so many extras on set, it was just crazy.

The cast and crew, left to right, Vivian Wolfson, 17, Benji Tucker, 18, Randy Damas, 18, Sam Karpinski, 17, Liana Bartolome, 16, Leilani Patao, 18, Pascal Connolly , 15, and Elton McCrudden, 15, from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Louder Than Words” high school edition, a piece for “tick, tick … Boom!” pose at LACHSA in Los Angeles on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News / SCNG)

Tucker said the team haven’t met Miranda in person, but some of the main cast in her film have sent in congratulations via video.

Leilani Patao, an 18-year-old who lives in Los Angeles, was one of the quartet’s four lead singers. She spent six hours in the studio one day recording vocals and about 15 hours on set.

“Honestly, it was so great to be able to collaborate with my talented peers at this school and the pace was so fast,” said Patao. “It meant a lot to be a part of our school’s representation to Netflix. It meant a lot to be able to show what I’ve been able to do over the past four years. It was honestly a huge honor.

While the song’s theme, “Louder Than Words,” is about growing up during the AIDS / HIV crisis, the students in Los Angeles have taken a more modern approach.

“We took a stand… on mental health and the crisis there and how each is dealing with their own crises in their own way,” said Patao. “What I took away the most is that, especially in my school, a lot of people care about each other more than we thought. Most of all, I’m not alone, (I know) everything what I do has an impact and actions speak louder than words… and not only do I have such a great support system with my close friends, but also here at school with my creativity.

Pascal Connolly, a 15-year-old sophomore from Los Angeles, was a handful and worked alongside the cinematographer to set up the dolly track and push it to where it needed to be.

“It was really cool to be around the camera and the (photography repertoire) and learn how they use the camera and how the camera movements work,” Connolly said.

He not only learned the camera, but also how it works technically, how to prepare for the shots and how to get organized.

Due to the pandemic, this was his first chance to be on set to do practical work in the real world.

“It was really exciting because obviously my freshman year I didn’t really have the chance to enjoy getting my hands on the really nice gear or being on set with anyone,” said Connolly. “So it was a great learning experience and I learned not only a lot about camera work, but also how a set works in general. “

Elton McCrudden, a 15-year-old sophomore from Los Angeles, played the role of a key grip, meaning he worked closely with camera and electrical departments to move things like indicated.

“(The grip) isn’t just important on set, but (is it there to) achieve the scene our directors were looking for,” McCrudden said. “For example, lighting; we would plan the lighting. It was so much fun working with Netflix, it was like a dream come true.

All of the students agreed that even though they were working “technically” it didn’t seem to feel that way since they were doing what we were passionate about: creating and making art.


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