give love lip dub: the behind-the-scenes story

One shot, three takes, no edits, 60 people and a whole lot of spreadsheets. This is just a small slice of the work that went into Queen Street Yoga‘s super fun lip dub to MC Yogi‘s “Give Love.” The Kitchener, Ontario-based studio produced the lip dub (a single-shot music video in which participants lip-synch a popular song) as a study in new media and an experiment in community building.

QSY director, Leena Miller, and producers Emma Dines and Aimée Morrison talk about the planning, preparation and coordination of the three and a half minute video.

What inspired this lip dub video?

Leena: The idea for the video came from one of our keenest students, Aimée Morrison. She’s an English prof at University of Waterloo and specializes in Critical Media Studies. She proposed the project as a way for her graduate students in new media to study what’s involved in making a YouTube video (copyright, filming, editing) and how then videos spread through social media networks (like awesome yoga blogs!). We loved the idea and thought it would be a really fun community-building event. Emma, one or our lead teachers and studio manager (who also happens to be an amazeballs drama/music geek) took on the project and enlisted the help of one of our work-trades, Jill. We invited our students and friends in the community to get involved at the studio and on social media. About 60 people turned out on filming day.

Emma: If I wasn’t a yoga teacher, I would have been a drama teacher, so this was a dream project for me!

Aimée: I got the idea while my daughter (blonde kid sitting on the floor in the final shot) and I were dancing around to Pilgrimage at home. It’s such a catchy album, and “Give Love” is such a great song, I knew immediately that I wanted to do a lip dub with QSY. The community just has that vibe, that joy. It seemed perfect.QSY3

How did you coordinate all the scenes and people?

Emma: Jill, Aimee and I started off the process with some meetings where we walked around the building listening to the song, timing how long it would take to get from place to place. We divided the song up into sections and then set about filling each section with interesting a different activities (meditators, kids, acro-yoga, handstands, beginner-looking yoga, our staff at the front desk, people on their way to the studio). Some of the “choreography” was pre-determined, some of it was created by participants on the day.

For the final week before the lip dub video I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about it, planning different sections and trying to figure out the best way to communicate it to the section leaders. The few days before the lip-dub, Aimee, Jill and I met often. Jill and Aimee worked on practicing walking around with the camera, and I made a ton of colour-coded spreadsheets of different volunteers – especially since we had some people participating in multiple sections, and they needed to make sure they didn’t cut in front of the camera to get to their second scene!

We were amazed that the rehearsal and filming went as quickly as it did. A lot of that was due to being really organized beforehand, as well as our amazing staff (teachers and trades) who coordinated their sections beautifully! 

QSY2How did this project bring together the QSY community?

Leena: We wanted to create a really dynamic video that showed off our quirky old building and, more importantly, the joy and diversity of our community. It was really awesome to see people chatting before or after our rehearsal or during our snack break. It was a chance for people to know each other better, and talk about how they came to the studio and what else they’re involved with in the Kitchener-Waterloo community.

One of the things I love best about our downtown studio is the wide range of students here in terms of age, gender, physical fitness, experience and background. In one class you might have a retired school teacher, an engineer, an organist, a social-work student, a mom who’s on social aid, a banker… I’m really inspired in by initiatives like Kula Annex’s Positive Spaces Initiative, and I agree that like most of the yoga world in the West, QSY still has a long way to go in terms of making our studio truly reflect the diversity of our city and be truly inclusive to all genders, sizes and socioeconomic backgrounds.

I think fun and life-giving community-based projects like these help bring people together in a really positive way and take a step in that direction of inviting and making a safe space for more diversity in our studio. We also saw the project as a way of offering a fun and free activity to the community, no consumption required!