Did you spot some of your classmates or coworkers in the cast of FGCU’s holiday video this year? Wonder how many strings of lights it took to create the dazzling effects? Or how we managed to turn the entire academic corridor into a winter wonderland?
Well, weeks of brainstorming, planning, filming, editing — and sweating — went into the production by University Marketing & Communications (UMC) before the holiday video was emailed to nearly 50,000 students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors and other members of the extended FGCU family. In just four years, the short but festive film has become a popular annual tradition spotlighting some of FGCU’s “best and brightest” and celebrating the spirit of the season.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen scholarship recipients thank donors, a sand sculpture built on the North Lake Village beach, and FGCU community members pay-it-forward both on- and off-campus,” says videographer and FGCU alum Tim Clark (’07, Theatre), who led the production team. “This year’s theme was ‘Spreading Light,’ using string lights to connect the FGCU community across the campus and beyond.”
The video racked up the views (7,500 and counting) and the comments glowed (“Really great job on this!!!” 2016 alumna Tessa Mortensen commented on Facebook; “It’s Lit,” Naples Realtor Graham Barraco chimed in on Instagram).
Videographer and alum Hadassa Romero (’19, Art) and UMC student intern Matt Burge were key players in bringing the concept to life, according to Clark. They were the “light artists” responsible for hanging and arranging — and untangling — the glowing strands that tied together the many scenes enacted across campus and beyond.
If you’ve already watched the video, you’ve seen how many people were involved in front of the camera: 62 students, faculty and staff, including familiar faces such as Azul, “Mr. Green” (AKA Robert Green), soccer star Evdokia Popadinova and Assistant Vice President for Campus Life/Dean of Students Michele Yovanovich. A whole dozen entrepreneurship students turned out to help ETI Director Tom Missimer and School of Entrepreneurship Director Sandra Kauanui deck out the Emergent Technologies Institute in sparkling lights. In all, a dozen locations were decorated and filmed, including a chemistry lab, a nursing simulation lab, soccer goal posts and even a boat at the Vester Marine & Environmental Science Research Field Station in Bonita Springs.
“The most challenging scene was in the academic corridor, namely because of the number of shots we planned to film in one evening, and the time needed to move the lights from one location to the next,” Clark says. “Hadassa and Matt were instrumental in making this possible. While we were filming in one location, they were setting up lights at the next.”
Spoiler alert: With just 217 feet of lights on seven strings, they had to rely on moviemaking magic to achieve the final shot of the video, where all the buildings in the corridor appear to be outlined in light strings.
That’s not to say the team didn’t go to great lengths to bring their concept to life. Clark went so far as to bake and decorate cookies for a scene where students sit down at a party table. Unfortunately, the blue-frosted treats wound up mostly obscured by a candle centerpiece.
Nevertheless, true to the spirit of the season, the Eagle undergrads involved in the shot truly appreciated the generous gesture. They are starving college students, after all.
“The cookies were a big hit with the students, so it was worth the effort,” Clark says. “I want to thank everyone who helped make this happen, both on- and off-camera. Each individual scene may not have seemed like much at the time. But when they’re seen all together, they really show the light spreading across FGCU.”