The biggest lip-syncing endeavor ever attempted in Saratoga Springs is scheduled for Sept. 1 and envisioned to reach an Internet audience of more than 10 million, potentially boosting the city’s tourism industry.
“We’ve set a pretty lofty goal,” said Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, who came up with the idea for this grand promotion after he learned of a similar venture by his daughter’s college.
What she turned him on to was an advertising campaign Emerson College had created that consisted of students, on and around campus, lip-syncing to a medley of Lady Gaga songs in one continuous camera shot. Since being posted on YouTube in December, the video, which falls into a category known generally as a “lip dub,” has received more than 1 million views.
The massive exposure of this advertising tool immediately prompted Shimkus to think of the local implications. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, that’s great. Can we give people a tour of Saratoga County … using a similar campaign?’ ”
The project will start at the City Center on Broadway and end in Congress Park, with filming done from an all-terrain vehicle that will be blasting a medley of songs from the band Train, including “Hey, Soul Sister,” “If It’s Love” and “Drops of Jupiter.” Train was chosen because their drummer, Scott Underwood, is from the city and because the band is world-renowned.
Before the film concludes with a dance number by thousands of volunteers in Congress Park, it will incorporate 45 “stages” that showcase various businesses and opportunities in the county. One example Shimkus cited is the county’s sports and recreation ventures, which will be highlighted with people kayaking, running, cycling, cross-country skiing, fishing and golfing.
Even though the lip dub concept has become more mainstream in recent months, with videos made by the sitcom “The Office” and local News Channel 13, Shimkus said the size and scope of the project led to some initial reluctance when he pitched it to local production startup Modern Mix Marketing.
“They [thought] we’re nuts when we [talked] about doing this,” he said. “I mean nuts in a fun way.”
Jacob Hopper, a partner in Modern Mix Marketing, said the concept of a lip dub video was new to them. After taking a couple days to consider the logistics, which included a time window of less than two months, they signed on to the project. “Initially it was a lot of brainstorming and coming up with ideas,” Hopper said.
In the wake of that period, a team from Modern Mix Marketing and the Chamber have been holding half-day meetings once a week to nail down every loose end of the production, which is incorporating dozens of local businesses and organizations and hoping for thousands of volunteers to turn up for the final shot in Congress Park.
The biggest challenge they had to overcome in pre-production, according to Hopper, was a plan to cross Broadway during the filming, since they won’t be shutting down the street. City police and public safety were brought in to serve as traffic control during film. “We want the town to be alive,” he said of the decision to film under normal Thursday afternoon conditions. “We were a little nervous about whether we would get permission.”
In the weeks leading up to the filming, the crew of about four, including the cameraman, the director and driver, have been and will continue to do practice runs of the film route at 6 a.m. These practice routes are so they can figure out the exact timing for the choreography of dances, which include routines planned by the Museum of Dance and Saratoga SAVOY.
Hopper said the video will have a grand premiere three to four weeks after filming. At that time the video will also be released on to YouTube.
Chamber President Shimkus said he believes the video could be seen by 10 million pairs of eyes, based on the success of other videos, like a lip dub production by Grand Rapids, Mich. Their video, set to Don McLean’s “American Pie,” received national media attention and garnered over 4 million views on YouTube.
“When you involved all the partner organizations we have working on this … we can hit that number,” Shimkus said of the 4 million views.
He added that Grand Rapids didn’t have the luxury of using Saratoga Springs’ downtown for a backdrop in filming.
In an attempt to foster the spread of the video, everyone who appears in the finale at Congress Park will have their names added to the end credits, with the rationale that these people will then forward the video link to their network of friends. “If you’ve ever [been] looking to have your name listed in the credits of a music video, this is it,” Shimkus said. “But you got to be in Congress Park at 12 noon, and learn the dance and the lip-sync.”
The rain date for filming is Sept. 2. Lyrics to “Drops of Jupiter” will be available on the Chamber’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SaratogaLipDub, as will photographs and other updates.