BELFAST — There’s no telling when a song will go viral, like “Gangham Style” and “the Harlem Shuffle” did in the last few years. In November 2013, singer-songwriter and seven-time Grammy winner Pharrell Williams sparked the world when his super catchy hit Happy” debuted in the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack album. Following that, just for fun, he created a video around his song called 24 Hours of Happy. Filmed in one take over the course of 24 hours, the video featured more than 400 people dancing all over Los Angeles, including Williams, locals, and celebrities, such as Steve Carell and Magic Johnson.
Because the video was well, so happy, and paid homage to so many LA landmarks, hotspots and people, other American cities like Detroit and Chicago and countries from Paris to Berlin to Singapore started to do their own dance video to the song.
This spring, the town of Belfast decided to get into the act. Belfast Councilor Mike Hurley explained why he came up with the idea to start the movement “Belfast Maine: We are Happy” and get as many people and locations in a video to Williams’ song.
“Williams filmed people of all nationalities, sizes, ages, colors, levels of fame,” he said. “And now 250 million people have seen that video. Almost immediately people all over the world and even small towns started to do their version of this song on video. So I saw this and said, we need to do this in Belfast.”
Starting in April, Our Town Belfast and local Belfast businesses chipped in as sponsors to provide videographer Ned Lightner with the funds to film footage of Belfast citizens dancing to the song in a variety of iconic Belfast locations and businesses. This past weekend, more than 100 people showed up to dance on the Belfast foot bridge (even though it was raining) and they’re still working on filming for another week or so in various spots. By they’re done, they will have filmed in about 80 locations.
“It’s been really intense,” said Hurley. “One minute we’re in Athena Health filming people dancing in their cubicles; the next minute we’re down at Three Tides and the brew master, the bartender and all the waiters are all dancing around the fire. The next minute we’re at Rollie’s, then at the YMCA and then the Belfast Co-op. Every one of these locations comes with very different emotions and capabilities.”
The goal is to have the video finished by Memorial Day.
“I’ve listened to this tune a million times and I’m still not sick of it,” said Hurley. “Every time we start playing that song, it’s really infectious and you just want to start dancing. But the real goal is to make a video that not only shows the people and locations of Belfast but that the background would be iconic. The dog park. The tug boats. The public landing. The big bridge. The walking bridge. The high school and things like that. It’s really a promotional tool for Belfast. ”
The crew is still looking for individuals who really like to dance.
“We’ve got enough crowd scenes,” Hurley said, we just want three or four people. “However, they are anticipating a final shoot on Main Street to wrap up filming. Keep posted to their Facebook page for future times, dates and locations. And stay tuned to Penobscot Bay Pilot as we bring you more footage and photos in the days to come.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com