A LipDub for all ages

Courtesy Photo / dailypicksandflicks.com

Courtesy Photo / dailypicksandflicks.com

Marc Maycroft

“I didn’t have to do much,” Chuck Garrod said. “Just stand here and look like a fool, so no big deal.”

Garrod, along with 102 others, is a part of a unique group. As residents at the Clark Retirement Community, they are the only group of senior citizens to film a LipDub video and, in fact, one of the most successful of all time.

A LipDub is a single shot music video where participants lip sync vocals in one fluid motion. Both Grand Valley State University and the city of Grand Rapids performed LipDubs that gained national attention in the past year.

The Clark video was no exception to nationwide attention. The crew consisted of 29 GVSU alumni, students and professors. Director Alan Ledford attributed the viral quality of the video to the novelty of the participants.

“People like watching old people,” he said. “It’s just funny.”

In just two days on YouTube, the Clark LipDub video reached a milestone 50,000 likes. As of now, the video has been view over 600,000 times since it was posted on the site on July 12. Cast and crew members have been featured on several media outlets including: The Today Show, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, Tosh.0, National Public Radio, United Methodist Reporter, Ottawa radio station Majic 100 FM, Canadian Broadcasting Co. and The European Television Network. It was also featured on the web by sites like the YouTube spotlight, Mashable, Gawker, Bored and the Huffington Post. The video is on the top viewing lists in several countries including: Saudi Arabia, Morocco, India, Canada, Yemen, Ireland, Czech Republic and the U.S.

Safe to say, the Clark Retirement Community LipDub has gone viral. However, unlike most viral videos, the response has been highly positive.

“No one is seeming to find anything wrong with it,” Ledford said. “Everyone has been very supportive.”

While the cast of the video said that the experience was fun, some admitted to being very nervous. Nerves that Ledford said were caused by a lack of experience being on camera and only the vague knowledge of what a LipDub was.

“It took about a week before we got comfortable,” said resident and LipDub participant Rudy Cooper. “My wife and I walked around our house practicing constantly.”

At age 86, Cooper mused that he knew fame would come to him; he was just surprised it took so long to happen. He said the hardest part of the video was having to perform not only the lip syncing, but also all the movements in perfect time with the music because the entire take could be ruined by one mistake.

“The kids were patient with us,” he said. “They were capable, nurturing and supportive.”

Though the cast and crew endured five rehearsals and eight takes before getting the shot, they said they weren’t feeling the least bit worn down.

“It felt like we got better every time,” said Mary Lou Fassett. “We were having so much fun.”

Bob Pearl, Executive Director of Clark Retirement Community called the video “an incredible intergenerational experience” and said it could go a long way toward changing the stereotypes of aging.

Garrod, despite his role of the finger-wagging man, agreed. He said that in his view, the video could change the concept of older people and the perception that retirement means being sedentary.

The LipDub served another, more unlikely purpose – reconnecting friendships lost for decades. One couple that appeared in the LipDub received a call from a friend they hadn’t spoken to in 50 years.

“I had no doubt it would go national,” said Jane Brierley, Director of Marketing and Admissions at Clark Retirement Community. “I was surprised by the velocity of social media and everything that came after.”

Brierley, the mastermind behind the video’s existence, said after seeing the GVSU and Grand Rapids LipDubs, she wondered why Clark couldn’t do something similar. She made a contact with Kim Roberts, head of the film and video department at GVSU and from there, Brierley said magic happened.

Jake Lodwick, the creator of video uploading site Vimeo as well as the creator of LipDubbing commented, “These seniors performed with more heart than practically any of the ‘big hit’ LipDubs on college campuses and Main Streets! I thought the direction was good, and the set design and costumes were excellent!”

The most satisfying part of the experience, according to Brierley, was that the video accomplished all three of the goals they set out to achieve. The video helped the residents at Clark have a fun experience, GVSU to gain more national attention and for the crew to gain a reputation and perhaps a few more jobs.

Since the shooting ended, Ledford returns to Clark once a week to have coffee with the residents.

“I never thought I would connect with older people like this,” he said. “My grandmother was in a nursing home when I was younger and talking with them (residents at Clark) makes me wish I would have spent more time with her. They have so many great stories to tell.”

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