One of the many dancing scenes filmed around Grand Rapids in the video “Happy Grand Rapids.” Photo via youtube.com
A fun video showed up on YouTube this Christmas — starring Grand Rapids and its very happy residents.
The video, “Happy Grand Rapids,” is set to Pharrell’s popular song “Happy” and shows off about 30 Grand Rapids residents dancing and goofing around, with the city as their backdrop.
The video has been viewed more than 12,000 times, as of Friday afternoon.
Atikh Bana, Dylan Mathews and Dallas Wade created the video. The three men are all graduates of East Kentwood High School and have previously worked on other projects together.
A happy idea
Mathews said the idea came from Bana, whose enthusiasm for the project was infectious.
“At first, I was sort of hesitant of the idea,” Mathews said. “However, as he continued to explain the idea, I became more and more interested. And what truly captivated me was the potential impact it could have on the community. You know, ‘What if we make something that can spread positivity, something that people can truly enjoy and feel connected with?’
“After getting on board with Atikh's idea, it was a matter of, ‘How can we make this happen?’ Showing happiness is easy, but how can we truly portray happiness that is representative of the Grand Rapids community?”
Recruiting happy Grand Rapidians
The men didn’t want to just turn to their circle of friends to cast the video, so, instead, they reached beyond their close connections.
“We tried reaching out to as many people we didn't know or weren't closely connected with,” Mathews said. “For example, Atikh reached out to employees at Open Systems Technology, high school teachers, parents of friends, friends of friends, etc.”
Mathews said they were looking for people with vibrant and expressive personalities to show off in the video.
“Dance moves were always a plus,” he added.
Mathews noted that the video shows off a lot of couples and families, which is representative of the fact that Grand Rapids has a reputation as a great place to raise a family.
Making the video
The entire video was shot during the weekend of Dec. 21-22, despite some nasty weather.
“The weather wasn't great, but that's Grand Rapids, and we wanted to show that we're still happy!” Mathews said.
Mathews had two days to complete the video in order for it to be ready for its release at 12 a.m. on Christmas day.
“The receiving of this video has been great,” Mathews said. “We are truly enthused. Our objective was to spread happiness and that is exactly what is happening.
“It's so great to be surrounded by people who feel connected with this project — because we made it for everyone to enjoy, share and connect with.”
Who are these guys?
When the video began making its way around social media, many people were asking, “Who are these guys?”
Mathews is a freelance videographer and photography assistant. His background in video production goes back to his days at East Kentwood High School. He is currently working on a script for a short film.
Bana works as a freelance photographer, interns at OST and is completing a degree in advertising at Grand Valley State University.
Wade attends Grand Rapids Community College and has been involved with rap and hip-hip for more than five years. He is also a model with a growing career and will be shooting a calendar in Detroit with a well-known photographer in January.
“This video is truly about the people,” Mathews said. “It's not about us. Our goal is to share the vibrancy of our people and community — and remind us all how great Grand Rapids is.
“Of course, nothing lasts forever, and this video won't be talked about next week, but it can always be a reminder, something to look back on/refer to.
“Knowing that we're spreading such positivity and representing our community is truly a blessing to all of us. Nothing brings us greater joy than knowing we are doing that.”
The video also appears at happygrandrapids.com.