Lights! Camera! Action!

Mobilisation. Yes, we have heard that word used a lot when it comes to wars and flash mobs. I guess this is not too far off. Maybe I’m exaggerating. What I’m trying to say is, never underestimate what a group of determined fans can do, especially when armed with the technological wonders of webcams, iPhones and peer-to-peer file sharing.

Confused? Let me explain.

OK, so my last post on this blog was a little tribute to my favourite TV showrunner, Jeff Eastin, and a little recap of what happened in the WHITE COLLAR season finale. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you are way behind the 400+ readers who have hit that page in the week since I posted it but it’s never too late. You can still read it here πŸ™‚

Several weeks ago, frustrated by the fact that international fans of WHITE COLLAR like myself are never eligible to enter competitions related to the show, I suggested to some of my fellow “Collars” that we make our own fan video to show how deserving we are of getting recognition for our fanliness (I admit, this is not a real word but neither was “google” until recent years). I mean, why should we get left out just because we don’t happen to live in the US?Of course, people come up with great ideas all the time but most don’t become reality for a myriad of reasons. Take our video idea, for example. Everyone I asked said they were excited to participate. Suggestions were thrown around but nothing was set in stone. Admittedly, I did say I would take on the responsibility of starting a storyboard or draft script of some kind to kick things off but it only got as far as this:

Then last week, as I was updating my blog, it occurred to me that had I been more diligent in working on the video idea, that our group could have had an awesome fan video in time for Jeff’s birthday. Not to be deterred by the tight timeframe, Ceil’s brain sprang into action. Within hours of my bemoaning my own laziness, she had drafted a script that was a tribute (sounds better than a spoof :)) to some of the key scenes in the season finale. She even made sure there would be enough roles to cover all the people who had wanted to participate.

I quickly reviewed the draft and put on my casting director’s hat and assigned roles to each person. The script was sent to everyone on Friday (or Thursday in the US timezone) with the view to each person being able to shoot their parts on Saturday so that Ceil could also put on her production editor’s hat to put the video together on the weekend. We had a deadline to meet!

There were a number of challenges ahead of us. For starters, none of us was a professional writer or actor. Ryan, the sole male in the group, at least boasts some acting credit for his recent theatre performances (don’t forget the little people when you get your star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Ry!). A few of us dabble in writing as a hobby but not professionally. Make-up, lighting, sound, voice-overs…um…well, let’s just say we did our best.

Another challenge was time. Our deadline was Tues 6th March – the day before our target’s birthday (not to dehumanize Jeff, but seriously, he was our target) – to ensure he received the video in his inbox in time for the big day. With everyone leading busy lives, it was an incredible feat getting everyone to find the time to shoot their parts and send their videos across to Ceil to allow time for her to complete the editing. It probably didn’t make the editing process any easier when we all sent files in different formats either! (Oops!). As she so aptly put it, “We laughed, we cried. We formatted video files.” And I bet there was also a lot of drinking involved, too!

I sure had a lot of fun making my part of the video: figuring out wardrobe, lighting in my apartment to make sure I wasn’t sitting in the dark, remembering my lines (though I did ad-lib a little), and trying to act hysterical which was actually harder than I thought it would be! It certainly made me realise how hard the acting gig is!

When all is said and done, the most important thing is that the birthday boy loved his present and we all had fun making it. It may well be the least professional video he has ever seen but if it made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside, then we did our job πŸ™‚ Thank you to my international friends who all proved my pessimism should be left at the door and that where there’s a will, there is a way.

Happy birthday Jeff Eastin!

You can follow all my amazing cohorts on twitter as listed in Jeff’s tweet above. You can also read Ceil’s weekly “Ask Ceil” column at every Friday. Yes, you can ask her anything, as long as you are prepared to laugh your head off at the answers she gives. And while I’m in the mood to do a sales pitch, you should also check out her award-winning short story, “A Venomous Plan“.

One final note: no art gallery or people were harmed in the making of the stunt video I made as shown above. If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod, you can download an app that I became addicted to called “Action Movie FX”. You could say I am just a tiny bit addicted to that app πŸ™‚


8 thoughts on “Lights! Camera! Action!

  1. Damietta

    How much fun was that?!! Jeff seems to have been blown away (rightly so). Good job at the surprise. Twitter (and LJ) make White Collar even more fun to watch. I’m glad you posted the process here!

    (And BTW….Trendmicro did not block!)


  2. Carol Saul

    Thanks for asking Ryan and I to be a part of this video project! It was so much fun and turned out pretty dang good due to the brilliant and creative mind of Ceil! Thanks Valerie for getting the ball rolling, and I am still amazed that we managed to pull it off in time for Jeff’s birthday! πŸ™‚

    So thrilled to be a part of it! Thanks so much!


  3. Ryan Saul

    We had fun and the end result was just what we had hoped for, Jeff saw and liked the video. Thanks to Val and Ceil for getting the ball rolling, and then massaging the idea into a concept we all wanted in on.
    When do we do it again?


    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      Next one: target Tim’s 49th birthday present! What say you? It’s in June. We just might have improved our performances by then. Maybe you can give us some online acting classes Ry?


  4. Neil Fein

    Valerie, thanks so much for the link to the Nose, we’ve gotten a bunch of hits from it. You comments there are always welcome and interesting to read.

    Everybody else, the site has more than just Ask Ceil, and is updated three days a week. Lotsa stuff about language, writing, and book-ish stuff, with some observational humor thrown into the mix. And of couse, super-Ceil!



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