The bad news is that I have Katy Perry's single ROAR in my head.  The good news is that I like how it got there.

You see cotton candy pop icon Katy Perry recently appeared on GOOD MORNING AMERICA and invited high schools across the country to show their school spirit by creating a video featuring her ROAR single.   Young America responded.
Luckily my good American morning does not include waking up to watch GOOD MORNING AMERICA -- and so I was utterly clueless about this marketing ploy to enlist a nation's high schools to strut their stuff to Katy's latest pop confection.

Marketing aside, young America dove at this opportunity to show school spirit and maybe win a visit from Katy Perry.  I don't remember the late great Donna Summer offering to do this when I was in high school.  (Yes, I'm that old.) 

My biggest surprise is when I learned my promising filmmaker nephew slipped this stunning video into the mix --
Any video that can get me through this cloying anthem is by definition terribly impressive -- but this version may be better than Katy's own version.  You have to know I don't offer such compliments readily.  I was truly blown away.  My eyes left my head, rolled across my glass desktop, fell to the beige carpeting, and now my two cats are playing with them.

Seriously -- as a budding filmmaker myself I had to ask this gifted director some questions.  When I remembered I was related to him, I reached out immediately.   Graciously Sam Dodd said yes and only charged me a small fee.

SCREENPLAYHOUSE
Hiya Sam.  So please fill in the uninitiated how Katy Perry's contest works exactly.

SAM DODD
Why'd you make my name pink?

SCREENPLAYHOUSE
Because you charged me a small fee.  So talk to me.  How does this Perry context work?

SAM DODD
It was open to every and any high school, nation wide.  The video had to have a portion of her song "Roar" in it.  We posted on the internet full length versions, but the contest versions couldn't be longer thanNo longer than two minutes.  (Versions posted on the internet can run longer.)  You lip-dub/synch, but you couldn't use any other songs or melodies in the video.

SCREENPLAYHOUSE
Was your entry your idea? Meaning you approached your school to do this? Or did your school want to enter the contest and they approached you?  In Hollywood speak:  who did lunch with who?

SAM DODD
I would've wanted to do the contest either way -- haha.  About two weeks ago a promotional company named "Moxie" sent an email to our school asking us if we wanted to participate in the contest.  Ms. Freedman, our teacher and sponsor of our school's SGA, asked me if i'd be up for the task -- to which i responded:  yes.

SCREENPLAYHOUSE
The production values are amazing.  Was this all done with school equipment? 

SAM DODD
For the production of the video, we used our own personal equipment.  A DSLR and a Glide-Cam for filming, Final Cut X for editing.  However, we did borrow some of the school's lighting equipment for the shots with the soloist.
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SCREENPLAYHOUSE
Yes -- who is that girl doing the lip-synching? She was so spot on I kept forgetting ROAR isn't her song.  Is she a theater/actor type person?  Or just a serious Katy Perry fan?

SAM DODD
That's Madison Walsers, a senior at Walt Whitman High School.  Madison comes from a dancing and performing background, but she sings as well.

SCREENPLAYHOUSE
She was fantastic.  So too was the young lady who beat cancer with the help of her fellow Whitman students.
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So tell us what was the hardest part of this video to capture?   As in how many takes?   And what was the easiest?

SAM DODD
The hardest part of it was organizing almost 2,000 high school students to cooperate and do two takes.   Madison was the easiest.  It's funny, she did such a good job, her first rehearsal was actually the take we used.  No "re-dos" required.
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SCREENPLAYHOUSE
That big scary mask dude? School mascot?  Halloween Early Bird Special?

SAM DODD
That's our school mascot -- THE VIKING.  #GoVikes #VikingNation #WhitmanVikings.
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SCREENPLAYHOUSE
Phew!  That's a relief.  I was afraid Carrot Top had a child.  Are you aware of an early favorite in this contest?

SAM DODD
Yes.  Lakewood High School Colorado --
SCREENPLAYHOUSE
Wow.  That was pretty great.  I don't even want to know if that was all one shot.  That's some impressive competition. 

The problem is they kind of cheated by deploying a secret weapon.  Where Whitman dazzles with the lip synched stylings of one Madison Walsers, Lakewood unleashes a squad of twerkers with this dude out front -- 
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If this were baseball I'm sure there's a rule in the book that would disqualify this entry.  However, since it's Katy Perry's book, all bets are off.  (Maybe Carrot Top had more than one boy?) 

Anyway it's clear both of these videos deserve great admiration and attention.

SAM DODD
Indeed.  The SGA wanted the nation to hear us roar -- and from the results --  I'd say our plan to get Perry to Whitman is working.  The amazing thing is that we were given only four days to organize almost 2,000 people.

Personally I saw this as an opportunity to raise the standards of "high-school filmmaking." A lot of people in the business look down on the young & inexperienced.  I want to break that expectation by making a professional looking music video worthy of a visit from Katy Perry.  In my eyes this video will hopefully be a "game changer" for my generation of filmmakers to be taken seriously as young professionals.

SCREENPLAYHOUSE
I can't imagine a film school that wouldn't accept this film as the work of anything but a young professional.   Do you have your eyes set on any yet?

SAM DODD
I'd be honored to get in anywhere -- haha.  There are so many good film school's that I just hope some of them will eye me. Currently, I've been influenced a bit by NYU, USC, UCLA, UNCSA, Chapman, Emerson, North Western, and AU.

SCREENPLAYHOUSE
I'm convinced you're holding a film worthy of such attention.  Well, Sam, thanks for your time, and would you mind telling the kind readers how old you are?
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SAM DODD
My name is Samuel B. Dodd.  I am 16 years old and a Junior at Whitman High School.  Thanks for posting that picture.

SCREENPLAYHOUSE
There's... a small fee for that. 

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UPDATES --

While writing this piece, my nephew Sam appeared with his fellow students on FOX News in Maryland --

Margaret fagan
10/2/2013 16:46:35

Cool to hear the process behind this amazing video.

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