The Making of Uptown Funk, 15,000 Views Later: A Les Roches Marbella Student Production (VIDEO)

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It was January 2015 and growing popular on the music charts was this catchy tune called Uptown Funk. Every day you would listen to it more and more. And with each passing day you likely found yourself moving to the music and singing along with Bruno Mars. Uptown Funk quickly hit 200 million views on YouTube and became the most viewed video clip of the year. People everywhere were learning the song’s unique choreography and several successful videos were inspired by it. So, after weekly requests from students to do another video like 2014’s hit “LRM is Happy”, we finally had the song that embodies the international appeal of our students and the hospitality community at large. The student project, LRM Funk, was thus born.

In early February, our Student Ambassadors for 2015 were selected and they received the project with great enthusiasm. To begin organizing the production, a small group led by Pedro Costa and Nikita Granin began to break the video down into fourteen different scenes that would include 13 groups of student and faculty dancers.  They met and decided who the leaders would be. The group leaders in order of their appearance in the video clip are: Valentina Kraynova, Nikita Granin, Pedro Costa, Natalie Giger, Renatta Gizatullina, Daniel Fernandez, Vanessa Velarde, Sophia Bleij, Sofia Valente, Publio Silva, Irene Bravo Coronel and Mona el Mousti.  

Friday, February 20th to Monday, March 1st
The leaders of each group then began to put together a choreography for each scene while also considering the constraints of the locations where they would be dancing. None of this happened over night. They first had to select the additional student dancers and worked hard for 10 additional days rehearsing and teaching others the choreography before beginning to film the actual sequences. They insisted that the dancing had to exceed LRM Is Happy, despite the fact that most of them had never danced in a choreographed group. Nonetheless, they were up for the challenge and were ready to go when filming began.

Tuesday, March 3rd
The schedule for filming was very tight since they had to coordinate each scene within free class time, individual schedules, school events, and even a celebrity appearance (more on this below). Thus, on March the 2nd, the first group filmed their scene in the lobby outside of our restaurant, Le Marché. This is the 2nd scene in the final video sequence. The group was led by Pedro Costa and included Guillaume LaFond, Nadine Albeitz, Claudia Cajada, Natlya Kushel, and Eva Salinas Rivada. Having begun just as classes were finishing for the afternoon, they quickly drew an audience and ended up putting on a great show and beautiful clip to get the video underway.

The following day, on March the 4th, Natalie Giger brought her group into a classroom with Ms. Del Olmo and additional backup dancers. Natalie’s group included Ileana Campoy, Dan Taylor, Jose de la Torre, and Carla Pohl. With the music blasting throughout the class, they did an amazing an energetic performance that made the perfect segue to the next scene taking place outside on the putting green.

They had now completed two scenes over two days but on Thursday, March the 5th, they would face their most difficult challenge by filming five scenes in the busiest locations on campus.

Thursday, March 5th

Starting during the peak lunch hour of March the 5th, Sophia Bleij brought her group (including Babette De Leeuw, Kim Kimmerling, Ivan Aberg-Cobo, Philip Kleifel, Dalia Hwaidak, and Dilay Daher) into Le Marché restaurant to pull off an awesome flash mob sequence right in the middle of the dining room while students and faculty had their lunch. This group worked especially hard as both Ivan and Phillip had never danced in a coordinated fashion. Their final contribution was fabulous and helped to highlight the other dancers. It is safe to say that none of them anticipated the nerves that would come with dancing in front of over 150 people. They nailed it.

From here, the camera crew that included Pedro Costa, Ms. Becerra of Student Services, and LRM’s Community Manager, Ben Lilly rushed over to the Olivo restaurant to film Pubio Silva’s group before the lunch hour was over.

Publio’s group included Luka Maric, Hamza Faisal, Bruna Coimbra, and Ana Luisa de Assis. Struggling to come up with a suitable choreography for a short but complicated portion of the song, the group was forced to meet up late at night once the dinner service was finished for the evening. When they finally came to film their sequence, they were ready and put their nerves aside to have fun and film an exciting clip that included a cameo appearance of Mr. Hassan Djeebet.

Four scenes had now been completed and it was on to film a scene in the new offices of the Career Development and Internship Department. Ms. Veronica Paredes represented the Department and was accompanied by staff from the Enrolment & Marketing Department, including Anastasia Bayanova, Makrina Hernandez, Patricia Rodiles, and Miriam Martin. In all honestly, they are very busy and didn’t have time to rehearse before filming. But since they are all natural born dancers, they worked it together on the fly with a really groovy improvisation set in the Department’s cool new décor.

Next up on Thursday’s hectic filming schedule was Mona El Mousti’s group in the corridor of Student Services. Mona’s group included Farah Ismail, Teresa Delgado, Aron Zwirn, and Sofia de Frutos. Aron, having never been much of a dancer was reticent about performing on camera and in the end his performance in the middle of the group was really smooth! Once again on the fly, they brought in the staff of Student Services to back up their choreography. They included Ms. Sandra Becerra, Ms. Mariana Macri, Ms. Laura Gonzalez, and a surprise appearance from none other than the Department’s Director, Mr. Mano Soler. From here the group swagged out another smooth rendition in front of newly designed waiting area of Student Services.

Five down, nine to go.

The day’s final scene was to be filmed after classes in the main entrance lobby. This is the opening scene of the video. The timing of this scene just happened to coincide with a special visit from Mexico’s most popular YouTube vlogger, Benshorts (aka Hector…) . They talked him into appearing in the scene with his fellow vlogger colleague, BagreTV (aka Manuel…) and they can be seen flanking Mr. Djeebet in a funky head nodding sequence during the first scene.

The reception scene involved two groups. The first was the opening sequence led by the contingent of Valentina Kraynova, Renata Gizatullina, Daria Marcinkeviciute, Regina Ganieva, and Natalya Kuzhel. Their unique style and vibrance put an enthusiastic stamp on the final video that will not soon be forgotten. They rocked it and got filled the lobby with onlookers who found themselves dancing along in the background. Following their brilliant performance, Nikita Granin’s all male group of Pedro Costa, Guillaume LaFond, Daniel Fernandez, and Ruslan Kuvanyshev performed a most awesome choreography that will go down in Les Roches Marbella’s history as one of the greatest student life representations of all time. They were brilliant and awed the crowd with their spirited dance moves.

Now that 6 scenes had been completed it was time to rest before another tight schedule on Friday, March the 5th.

Friday, March 6th
Today’s film schedule revolved around Les Roches Marbella’s Open Day events and began during the morning break on the putting green.

Renata Gizatullina’s group (including Valentina Kraynova, Luca Perenzy, Jorge Carriiho, Regina Ganieva, and Yasminn Ebner) had unexpectedlybeen rained out the previous day. Their scene hinged on good weather and at first the forecast was looking bleak. However, on Friday morning, to everyone’s delight, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen in the sky. They quickly got their group together out in the garden and even brought some back up dancers to help out. Their rocking performance set with the backdrop of a clear blue sky behind the campus brought a fresh ray of light to the final production and served thrust the video into the context of what it means to study in Marbella.

Later in the day it was time for Daniel Fernandez’s all-teacher group to perform their magic. And magic is just what they did. Nobody saw this one coming when Mr. Shah, Ms. Hirth, Ms. Del Olmo, Ms. Sousa, and Mr. Brad came together to show they world that even teachers can be funky! In only ten short seconds they made this school-wide production truly epic in proportion. Brilliant and astounding are but two words to describe their passion for the Les Roches Marbella Way of Life. Team players all the way.

The faculty gem was followed by a really good performance in the campus study area by four of the video’s stars. Irene Bravo Coronel led Pedro Costa, Vanessa Velarde, and Daniel Fernandez in a smooth sunglasses motive that gave the video just the right kind of cool funk and at just the right time in the song.

The day’s final performance was to take place in Bistro Café just when the guests of Open Day had finished their campus tour. This group was led by Vanessa Velarde, one of the original choreographers who helped out a great deal with the other groups. Vanessa’s group included Aigera Akaidor, Kristi Gorchakovskaya, Alicia Garcia, Arseniy Segel, Yarislov Minenko, Daniel Fernandez, and Irene Bravo Coronel. Arseniy and Yarislov, it must be said, put in more work than anyone else to learn the moves as neither of them had ever danced before in their lives. Still, they were driven and possessed the courage to do what many people would see as unthinkable.  When it came time to film Vanessa’s group filled the bar area with back up dancers, donned their fedoras, and belted out another fine sequence to set the pace for the second half of the song.

After completing the Bistro scene it was time to wrap things up for the weekend but not until some drama was added to the production. Following a long day of filming, the cameraman loaded his car and left. Two hours later he calls the school saying he had forgotten to load his camera and it was sitting on the sidewalk in front of the campus. Panic ensued and everybody involved in the project began to search frantically for the lost camera. Nothing showed up and the project seemed doomed to be delayed indefinitely. Until that it is, the cameraman stopped into Bistro to drown his sorrows in a hot cup of coffee. Upon entering the café, a student and honorable gentleman named Nojus Kaselis from Lithuania stood up from behind the bar with a nicely decorated silver platter. On top of the platter was the cameraman’s camera, complete with the memory card that contained all of the day’s scenes. After tears of joy and countless expressions of gratitude to this gentleman, the show was back on the road.

Tuesday, March 10th
After a frightful scare on Friday and some much needed rest over the weekend, filming began again on Tuesday morning with a tight schedule to finish both filming and editing in order to meet the release date of Wednesday, March the 11th.

The first scene of the day was an extended flash mob sequence outside in the school entrance. The weather was looking great and now we only need to gather up 50 to 60 students and staff to dance during the morning break. Taking a cue from a line in Kevin Costner’s iconic movie, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come”. In this case we put the music on and they came. In no time there were dozens of students, faculty, staff, and even some foreign guests from outside the school dancing to uptown funk in the school entrance. Not visible in the final video is the large crowd cheering them on behind the camera. If the music were still playing, they would probably be dancing still too. This was the grand finale of the production and the flash mob hit it off big time.

Twelve down, two to go.

There was one very short transition scene that didn’t have a specific group so the camera crew caught a group of students (Neel Vaghela, Ribal Saroufim, Pedro Costa, and Younes Ezzardi) playing pool in the Student Club and convinced them to let loose with some improvised moves. They stood tall and let it go to put on an unexpected show during their lunch break.

Thirteen down, one to go.

The final and much anticipated Olivo Kitchen scene took place on Tuesday afternoon just before the evening kitchen operations shift began. Sofia Valente led her group of chefs (including Meryuert Arman, Nicolas Chartrand, Laura Tielve, Gema Martinez, Noyan Goker, Andrea Ventura, and Martim Esteves) through a fast moving and spirited performance that was highlighted by the groovy characters of Chef O’Keeffe, Chef Verdugo, and of course, Chef Schapman. Speechless is how we are left with this most fantastic of scenes. This is yet another priceless contribution to the history of Les Roches Marbella and now it is immortalized on YouTube to top it off.  Theirs was the last scene to be filmed and from there the video editor ran off to compile the final sequences before preparing for the much-anticipated launch on Wednesday, March the 11th.

Wednesday, March 11th  – Showtime!
The video editor was just as excited as the student performers to see the final result of all the work during the previous month so they set out to edit through the night in order to maintain the initial deadline. After  more than thirty accumulated hours of editing, the time had finally arrived. On Wednesday morning the video was uploaded hot off the press, a sharing campaign put in place, announcements made, and at midday the video was launched.

Twenty-four hours later, it became evident that something big was happening. Something even bigger than LRM is Happy. Something bigger than anything else they had done before. During a 24-hour period their video was receiving more than 5 views per minute and by the end of the day totaled more than 7,000 views. This was historic indeed. Everywhere you looked, Les Roches Marbella’s Uptown Funk could be found. Social media was abuzz and the video was taking on a life of its own.

Wednesday, March 25th
After school-wide support and help promoting the video from around the world, LRM Funk is living up to the students’ goal of exceeding the smashing success of LRM Is Happy. With more than 15,000 views to date, LRM Funk achieved in only two weeks what took nearly a year to achieve with LRM Is Happy. Challenge met.

Although they have been thanked and adulated over and over for their great work and dedication to upholding the Les Roches Marbella Way of Life, it is only fitting to offer one more compliment after undertaking such a challenging project. It cannot be said more clearly then LES ROCHES MARBELLA STUDENTS ARE THE BEST. Thank you and until the next project – Keep the funk coming!




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