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The story behind the Stephens 'Happy' video

April 9, 2014

Students taking Art Direction and Photo Styling this semester put their skills to use by creating videos set to the catchy tune “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
Associate Professor Lisa Lenoir and Instructor Amy Parris assigned the video to teach students how to apply lighting, art direction and other technical skills by using a class project relevant to them. Students were asked to create a unique story using people of various backgrounds, ages and ethnicities.
“We want to be forward-thinking in terms of storytelling and diversity in front of a camera,” Parris said.
Students created mood boards and had to navigate pre-production concepts such as location and time of day before actually filming, skills students will need when they're working on professional photo shoots or sets, Lenoir said.
To get a better feel for what students were up against, Lenoir and Parris created a video for the assignment, as well.
“When we give an assignment, we get in the trenches, too," Lenoir said.  
Dani Kelley ’14 and her team took their video camera to the University of Missouri campus to capture employees and students there before bringing her film crew back to Stephens to film faculty, staff and students dancing to the song. Just like Williams' video features cameo appearances from celebrities, Kelley's video includes some well-known Stephens women, including Margaret Campbell, director of the Student Success Center and Stephens President Dianne Lynch.
Asking strangers to appear on camera was the toughest part of the project, Kelley said, but the project ultimately paid off.
“Our goal was for 100 people to see the video” on You Tube, she said.
Kelley exceeded that goal. A Huffington Post College blogger Diane Propsner featured it on a blog post highlighting “Happy” videos from women’s colleges.
Kelley has now had close to 1,000 viewers on the two versions of the class project she posted on her You Tube site. Check it out: 

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