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Behind-the-Scenes: Making Hong Kong's 'Happy' Video

Warning: Pharrell Williams' latest music video is contagious. In it, the foot-tapping song 'Happy' is brought to life with people taking turns to dance on the streets of Los Angeles, seemingly without a care in the world.

Released in early December, the video has already inspired copycats in Paris. Now it has caught on in Hong Kong:

The original version, a 24-hour interactive music video produced by Clement Durou and Pierre Dupaquier of We Are From L.A., is made up of 400 ordinary people showing off their dance moves. Hidden among them are Magic Johnson, Steve Carell, Kelly Osbourne, Tyler, the Creator and others. Pharrell appears 24 times, at the top of every hour. Scrolling around the 24-hour clock, viewers can seamlessly skip around to different times and locations, without interrupting the flow of music. If you don't have a day to spare, you can catch the four-minute cut.

The original video is shot simply, with each dancer filmed in a single take using just one steadicam. The approach inspired freelance video reporter Hélène Franchineau, 29, to do her own take.

'I loved the concept and thought it was a great way to showcase a city,' she said. 'I thought, why not do the same with Hong Kong? It is a very visual city.'

With the help of freelance videographer Edwin Lee and a couple of friends as assistants, Ms. Franchineau shot Hong Kong's version of 'Happy' in dozens of locations over 10 hours with more than 60 dancers. From the Happy Valley race course to Maxims dim sum restaurant to the neon lights of Mongkok, the dancers turned heads wherever they were filmed.

Several WSJ editors caught the dancing bug. Below, they shared their experiences of being in front of the camera.-Diana Jou

Maya Pope-Chappell, Social Media & Analytics Editor

When I first heard about a 'Happy' video being shot in Hong Kong, I assumed that Pharrell Williams would be there in the flesh. I envisioned steadicams, lights and Skateboard P fitted in a quirky button-down shirt, shorts and Vans sneakers.

I headed to the city's Yau Ma Tei district to meet Diana Jou, a multimedia editor at the Journal, but Pharrell was nowhere to be found. That's because this was a remake of his 'Happy' video-a Hong Kong take on the one that had already been created in Paris.

My excitement deflated, giving way to nervousness. Did we really have to dance?

'Yes, of course!' Diana said.

As we walked over to the fruit market where a portion of the video was going to be shot, I began to wrap my mind around the prospect of dancing in the streets among complete strangers. Somehow, the randomness of the idea delighted me.

Next thing I knew, I was dancing on the sidewalk alongside oranges, durians and leafy vegetables. People were staring, holding up their phones to record the flash mob composed of a camera crew, a guy in a horse mask, Diana in a Chinese opera mask and myself, hands up in the air, feet shifting from side to side, moving to the beat without a care.

At one point, we danced around a red taxi that was pulling out of a park. The driver just smiled.

After the four-minute song ended, I realized my nervousness had disappeared. Instead, I felt exhilarated, out of breath and, sure enough, happy.

Thomas DiFonzo, Multimedia Editor

I arrived at Heritage 1811, a shopping mall complex converted from a former marine police headquarters, dressed in a purple jumper and yellow socks. I'd only listened to Pharrell's 'Happy' a handful of times, but to take part in a video while dancing against the backdrop of Hong Kong's amazing streets was just too good a proposition to turn down.

My slot included six people, and I was the first one up. The director, Hélène, asked me to approach a group of students posing in their graduation gowns and encourage them to start dancing with me. They did!

That helped take the focus away from me, but it only lasted for a minute. Moments later I was directed to break away, leaving me alone to glide through crowds of shoppers. I concentrated on moving in time to music I couldn't hear properly while at the same time looking happy - very, very happy.

At the very least, I hope to have entertained a few people that day.

Diana Jou, Multimedia Editor

Hong Kong is one of the most cinematic cities out there - just ask Wong Kar-wai. It contains two contrasting worlds: grimy, dimly lit market stalls and the most extravagant shopping centers. I couldn't pass up the chance to dance around the 100-year-old Yau Ma Tei fruit stalls.

纽约时报中英文网 www.qqenglish.com

I asked Maya [Pope-Chappell] to be my partner-in-crime. I brought with me a mask inspired by the painted faces of Chinese opera singers. It's bright pink and it has the ultimate sad face. It was the perfect odd prop for this video.

We started the song off with Maya leap-frogging over my head. Then we went full-out dancing despite not being able to hear the song very well. At one point I took off my mask and did a cartwheel. A Hong Kong taxi backed into our dance space, so we took it as a chance to drum on the hood of the car.

Everywhere we went, we found people looking at us, smiling, some even laughing. It's true what they say about happiness. The key to being happy is making others happy, and there's no better way than dancing in the street.

Henry Williams, Multimedia Editor

I can't dance.

I know this because I spent my weekend gyrating (there is no better word for it) along the shoreline of the West Kowloon Cultural District. My dance partner, Wendy Tang, a fellow journalist, looked amazing in her finest red Chinese dress. I was dressed in a red checked button-down shirt, and blue jeans. I stood out, at least. Red is meant to be lucky in China - I was certainly lucky that I didn't fall in to the sea, but that's about as far as my luck went.

Wendy and I began our routine almost immediately after arriving by the water. Having watched Pharrell's 'Happy' the day before, I was confident I knew what I had to do: dance for about five seconds, look happy, and mime along to the music. It was not to be: I had to dance for the entire length of the song - over four full minutes!

I definitely can't dance.

Trying to look cool, we began walking along the pier with the camera just about 10 feet in front of us. We tried spins, jumps, and extravagant hand gestures. We finally got ourselves in a rhythm with each other, did one more jump, and then the music stopped. Too late to be cool.

警告:法瑞尔·威廉姆斯(Pharrell Williams)最新的音乐视频颇具传染性。在视频中,那首脍炙人口的歌曲《开心》(Happy)经过人们的演绎,变得鲜活起来;人们在洛杉矶街道上轮番起舞,仿佛忘了整个世界。


初版本是由视频工作室We Are From L.A.的克莱芒特·迪鲁(Clement Durou)和皮埃尔·迪帕基耶(Pierre Dupaquier)制作的24小时互动音乐视频,视频记录展示了400名普通人的舞姿。魔术师杰克逊(Magic Johnson)、史蒂夫·加瑞儿(Steve Carell)、凯莉·奥斯本(Kelly Osbourne)、造物主泰勒(Tyler, the Creator)以及其他一些名人则穿插隐藏于其中。法瑞尔本人出现了24次,每次都是在每个小时的最开始处。视频24小时滚动播放,观看者可以在不中断音乐的前提下,流畅地选择观看不同时间和地点的视频。如果没有一整天的时间,可以看看这个4分钟的片段。

最初的视频拍摄很简单,每个段落只使用一部摄像机稳定器来拍摄一位舞者。这一方式让埃莱娜·弗朗西诺(Helene Franchineau)的灵感受到启发,这位29岁的自由摄像记者决定自己做一个版本。


    蛐蛐英语 www.qqenglish.com

在自由电视录像制作人埃德温·李(Edwin Lee)的帮助下,再加上几个朋友做助手,弗朗西诺用了10个多小时走遍数十个拍摄地点、拍摄了60多位舞者参与其中的香港版《开心》。从跑马地的赛马场、到美心餐厅、旺角的霓虹灯,无论在哪儿拍摄,片中的起舞者总是引来人们关注的目光。

《华尔街日报》的几位编辑在里面过了一把做舞虫的瘾。以下是他们谈论自己在镜头前的感受。——Diana Jou

Maya Pope-Chappell,社交媒体和分析编辑


我跑到这座城市的油麻地和我们的多媒体编辑Diana Jou碰头,结果根本没有看到法瑞尔的影子。那是因为这只是法瑞尔《开心》视频的翻版——是一个已经在巴黎制作过的视频的香港版。







Thomas DiFonzo,多媒体编辑





Diana Jou,多媒体编辑





Henry Williams,多媒体编辑


我知道这一点是因为,那个周末我一直在西九文化区的海边转圈子(我找不到其他更合适的词来形容了)。我的舞伴——记者同事Wendy Tang穿着一身精致的红色中式裙子,看起来棒极了。我的装扮是一件红格子图案的系扣衬衣和蓝色的牛仔裤。至少,我很抢眼。红色在中国意味着幸运——我当然很幸运,我没有掉到海里去,不过我的幸运也就到此为止了。







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