Production on ‘the world’s largest LipDub video’ continues

Courtesy Photo / Rob Bliss
Rob Bliss

Courtesy Photo / Rob Bliss Rob Bliss

Not too long ago, GVSU successfully made its own LipDub video, which now has almost 160,000 views on Youtube and features faculty, staff and students promoting the university.

Piggybacking off the idea, Rob Bliss, well-known for organizing various events in downtown Grand Rapids such as the Zombie Walk and the Grand Rapids Electronic Music Night, announced earlier in March the concept for a Grand Rapids lib dub.

Bliss said the idea hit him after having read that Newsweek claimed Grand Rapids to be one of America’s dying cities.

Bliss could not disagree more.

“I originally thought about doing a citywide LipDub in November 2010, but I lost interest in doing the event over winter,” he said. “After reading the Newsweek article, it definitely reinvigorated my desire to see it happen.”

Now, in hopes of promoting Grand Rapids and proving that it is not such a dead place to live, Bliss has teamed up with Creo Productions and Scott Erickson of SEF video. Together, they plan to create “the world’s largest LipDub video.”

“The level of my ambition and the level of Rob’s accomplishment and mutual ambition match very well,” Erickson said. “I am most excited to finally show my aptitude in managing a large group of talented crew for a project that is both wide-reaching in scope, execution and creative challenge.”

The video will be a single nine-minute take that will be taped to a nine-minute version of Don McLean’s “American Pie.” The final product will ultimately be uploaded on YouTube for everyone to view.

“Listening to a live version of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ inspired this entire project,” Bliss said. “Simply watching it made it all happen. It just sparked something creative inside me, and I saw a world within this song that I wanted to make real.”

The LipDub route will start on Lyon Street and end inside of a helicopter, which will take off at Gillette Bridge. Video rehearsals began April 2 in downtown Grand Rapids and have been taking place every weekend since, which has resulted in a good amount of progress.

The video will feature well-known faces such as Dick DeVos and many happenings such as parades, confetti being thrown out of windows, marching bands, football games, gymnasts, weddings, motorcades, choirs and kayakers.

Anyone is welcome to participate as an extra during the filming of the video, which will be a daylong event on May 15 starting at 10 a.m.

“People who want to be in the video should try to bring a big sack lunch,” Bliss said. “It’s going to be a very long day.”

Currently, Bliss still owes the city $10,000 for his last project, a water slide that stretched down Lyon Street last August. The project cost was initially underestimated, and the price tag for the event ballooned to $70,000. This oustanding debt hinders Bliss from applying for the permits himself, but Todd Tofferi, special events manager for the city, said all production permits have been filed through Bliss’ production partners SEF Video.

“We can’t know a final cost for this video until its finished,” Tofferi said. He estimated the city bill for the LipDub will be around $5,000.

Part of the cost to the production comes from employing police officers. Tofferi said that these officers receive overtime pay for their work on these events at a rate of $55 per hour. During the water slide event up to six officers were on duty 12 hours a day for two days.

“The price can add up fast,” Tofferi said. “The final bill really depends on how many takes this video needs. It could take only a couple (thousand), but who knows.”

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