For our third attempt at a Virtual Choir, we wanted to up the game a little bit. Let’s face it, since we produced our first virtual choir video back in April, lots of other choirs have now caught up and joined in with this trend.
Therefore we needed to do something a bit different. Gone was the concept of lots of men singing whilst staring out of boxes on screen, and in came the idea to recreate an entire movie in 3 minutes.
In order to do this we needed a song from a film. And luckily we know one. ‘She’ is the main title track from the film Notting Hill and currently in our repertoire. Or at least so we hoped. The downside of ‘rehearsing’ on zoom is that neither AM nor I can actually hear what the men are singing. Mostly therefore, we play a choir track that we made earlier and then drink gin whilst the men sing silently at us!
None of us profess to be professional or even amateur film makers, and ultimately this was only meant to be a bit of fun. The men were told simply to sing the song to camera in the way we did for the other videos, but include something in their video which related to Notting Hill. That was is it. No rules, not really much guidance.
They were also given the option of recording vocals only and producing a short video provided it was somehow related to the film Notting Hill. There was no particular requirement for it to be funny but there was the hope it might end being vaguely entertaining.
If nothing else it was going to be fun just seeing what the men came up with. They certainly didn’t disappoint.
In order to create a bit of a ‘stir’ about our video, we decided to put together a poster. Aided by Anne-Marie’s keen eye for detail, we produced something vaguely related to the film promo poster. This seemed to set up the music team for playing the roles of ‘Will and Anna’ in the film, although at this point we hadn’t really thought that through.
It’s worth noting that actually at no point were we trying to create anything too slick. It’s deliberately a bit of a ‘spoof’ movie because ultimately, we are just a Male Choir doing something for a bit of fun.
The Music Team
Having set the men a challenge, Anne-Marie and I figured we would therefore also have to come up with something slightly entertaining. Rather than just conduct and play the piano which we had done in previous videos, we instead produced and recorded our own bespoke backing track based loosely on the original.
This left us free to ‘recreate’ a few scenes from the film. Of course the obvious ones were some of the best known scenes featuring Will & Anna. So we started with ‘that kiss’… although hastily decided it would be best toned down, at least a bit, from the rather full on passionate snog acted out by Hugh and Julia.
We also, with a little help from Corsham Bookshop, filmed the scene where she’s “just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her”….
However, I think our dialogue was more along the lines of:
AM “what am I supposed to be saying? Are you sure the camera is actually running and where are you going to be standing?…”
J “Yes dear, just smile at the camera and all will be well….”
This whole debacle seemed to greatly amuse the lady who owns the bookshop who it turns out isn’t actually that keen on the film Notting Hill!
And of course, we couldn’t finish without the iconic bench scene at the end. That caused more hilarity as despite many takes, an ‘acceptable’ camera angle eluded us. We therefore adapted the scene a bit… (I learnt from a brief foray Into location sound for films that it is always best to keep the female talent happy….).
Eagle eyed viewers will also spot that I am not in fact reading the correct book – I felt that ‘Men are from Venus and Woman are From Mars’ was more appropriate!
There are of course, many out takes from all of these scenes that AM and I filmed, but I am forbidden on pain of death from sharing them with you!
That aside we also wanted to feature AM playing her cello as this proved very popular in our version of ‘I Believe’. Since the men aren’t always as tuneful as they could be during the ‘Oooh’ section we decided this would work better on the Cello. Just don’t tell the men they were virtually muted at that point.
There were also some notable performances from the men. Andy Wyatt, produced an outstanding rendition of Spike eating breakfast – almost too true to reality. It was Leigh Harrison who perhaps stole the show with his attempt at the ‘climbing into the garden scene’ using a gate outside Cirencester Parish Church. Again it’s very amusing, so well worth watching for that!
We also received a great video from Mark who actually left the choir a couple of years ago to return to Canada. But since this is all virtual we have been inviting him along to our zoom rehearsals and we were delighted with his unique take on the bench scene.