Susan Layton

Film Producer - ASL Performer - Life Learner

Tag: Christmas

The Making of “JOY to the World”

JOY-SnowThe making of

“JOY to the World”

I’m a little late in posting how the video “JOY to the World” came to be.  But I wanted to still share this … because as you will see throughout this and then reminded again at the end, you will find how “JOY” plays in to the world as we know it – a new year, a new start.
IMG_9875When I first began the thought process for filming “Joy to the World”, I thought that maybe the focus should be at a Christmas party, sharing joy with family, friends, acting out the Nativity, etc.  But then I thought to myself, JOY!  JOY to the World!  HOW?  How can we have TRUE JOY?  Where does JOY come from?  What can one do to experience LASTING JOY?  How can someone my age, someone older, someone younger recognize and long remember the JOY that comes from the Christmas season? And then it came to me!  GIVE! Give of yourself!  That can really mean anything – our time, talents, money, our heart.  That’s what Christ did.  He gave of himself and JOY, lasting, true JOY came and that is why we celebrate Christmas!  Isn’t that why we live, period?!  Men are, that they might have JOY!

One of the challenges that is faced when trying to film a video that requires other people is … getting the people.  Smile.Pix-14  This particular weekend that I’d be shooting this video, and the ONLY day I was available to film, was on Black Friday!  I know, you’re thinking, “You need people… on BLACK FRIDAY?!? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!”  I know!  But somehow, they all came together! Of course, I enticed the first group with milk, donuts and hand warmers. They agreed, thankfully, and we met at the nativity on the grounds of the St. George, Utah Temple.  That morning was SOOO cold and we were all in a hurry to get it done, which we did, but somehow, I totally forgot the hand warmers in the car!  Yes, we froze.  I think my brain froze or something! Ha. But the entire time, there were nothing but smiles! … I’m glad they still love me!
Pix-18We only had half of an hour to film at the nativity and then my family had to drive up to the blizzard-like Cedar City, Utah, about an hour north of St. George.   We met our next group at SubZero, a deliciously fabulous ice cream shop.  (If you haven’t yet, you gotta go there!)  Thankfully, we put up the decorations the day before, so we only needed to set up the lighting and get my camera-girl up to speed on shots.   And then we waited for our cast.  A few people couldn’t come last minute, so gratefully other friends came to fill in.
I feel so blessed to know such amazing people! Pix-12 All of the cast enjoyed great big ice creams, hot chocolates and steamed milks.  Man, I’m salivating again.  Ha. I was worried about the time, because we only had two hours before SubZero would open for regular business.  But somehow we got everything shot under those two hours. Phew!  I couldn’t have done it without these very giving people and SubZero! I filmed at SubZero because I wanted to go back to “normal life” after the first verse of seeing me with the homeless man.  I wanted to show that when you give, you have a greater hop to your step. When you give, the feeling of JOY just wants to burst out of your seams.  There wasn’t anything else I really wanted to show there but JOY IS CONTAGIOUS and it comes from the things we do for others.

 

JOYPix The part of the homeless man in the snow was a “must” from the creation. As far as the weather went, the weeks forecast was: “Wednesday: snow; Every other day: sunny”.  So I was praying that either the Wednesday snow would last till Friday or that it would snow again on Friday for the shoot.  Well, Wednesday’s snow completely melted before the sun set that very same day.  Drats!  So, I kept praying it would snow – I believed it would just make this part of the video so much more if there was snow.  On Friday, when I woke up, my folks called to say, “We see you’ve been praying cuz the snow is here for your video!”  Sure enough! All day, it continued to bring down gorgeous big flakes.  The snow stopped falling  about an hour after we were done shooting.  I was so grateful!

With all the hustle and bustle of prepping everything else, the one thing I didn’t bring for myself was a coat.  Oh well, it’s hard to sign in a coat anyways. Ha.  When it came to deciding who would play the part of the homeless man, it was clear in my mind who it needed to be.  Pix4This man was absolutely perfect and patient in every way!  We had a few minor “issues” when it came to filming the part outside.  Let’s see, where do I start?!  Ok! … As we began shooting, the music kept freezing on us.  We couldn’t get it to start at the part we needed.  So, my helpers (who volunteered last minute, but also didn’t have coats) put it inside their clothes, thinking it was the cold that was causing it to wig out on us.  But then, inside of clothing, they found it was hard to start/stop as needed. Ha. Once we got that all worked out, we shot a few parts and then it was the camera’s turn.  Yup, the camera decided to totally turn off, telling us that the battery was dead!  Impossible, I thought, it was almost fully charged before we went out 15 minutes ago! So inside we went and plugged it in to recharge.  Don’t get me wrong, I was NOT protesting coming out of the cold – my hands and feet were as ice cold and burning as I had ever experienced before! I was sick to my stomach, it was so painfully cold!  I thought, HOW did the pioneers do it, walking across the plains in the bitter winter storms?!?  I guess the Lord knew I wasn’t one that would be able to weather that too well.  Pix-19Ten minutes later and the camera was still not turning on.  Remembering the hand warmers that I forgot to give to the morning group, I grabbed them and we placed them all over the camera.  Within a minute or two the camera turned on, with full charge.  Sure enough, it was frozen! And then we put the hand warmers in our shoes, pockets and anywhere else we could to keep us warm when we headed outside again.  Of course, while we were waiting we each ordered another round of hot chocolate and deliciously mouthwatering caramel steamed milk.  Mmmmm… my favorite!  When it was time to go outside again, the camera kept it’s warmers in every crevasse possible and our music volunteer and device got a blanket and several warmers as well!  No more issues with electronics from then on out!  Yay!

Pix-9Finally, we were ready to film the remaining part of the homeless man scene.  We invited people off the street to come help us out, and they were so sweet.  Of course, there were a few who had wide eyes and ran like we were burglars.  Ha.  One older lady drove by, rolled down her window and asked what we were doing.  I tried to explain as simply as I could that we were filming for a music video and briefly shared this particular part.  She said, “You’re not making any sense!  Here…”, as she was fishing through her purse for some money, “let me give you some money.”  I tried to say, if I give you the money, will you put it in the stocking and we can film that?  She said, “NO! You don’t give ME money! I’ll give YOU money!” And then she wasn’t quite understanding the filming part of it all. Ha.  Sweet lady!  So she ended up giving me $1.50 and driving away.  She left with a huge smile on her face.  That’s what it’s all about, I guess!  Give of your heart and joy comes.  Later that day, I passed her kind gesture on to a man asking for help.  It really was a very memorable part of filming for me, even though we didn’t film any of that.
Pix-1The second to last part of this video shows us at a friends’ house having fun and wrapping gifts.  Although it was a crazy part of the night, with eight little people, who are all best friends and really wanted to play more than anything, I caught some very special moments.  Of course, I could not have done it without their mother!  She was getting them in position and keeping them focused and happy and all that, while I was shooting. Pix-4 I was pretty sure she would un-friend me from life after that night.  Ha.  I’m so happy that she didn’t. The next day I had to come back and do the transition scene where I was coming in her house, she was like, “SURE!”  I really have special people in my life!  Having the kids deliver the gifts to the family was neat too — we must have shot that 25 times but from shot number one to the last, the kids were excited and happy and ready to go each time!

 

Pix-3The receiving family was so gracious.  I loved how the mom, and even the daughter, would come out, stand in awe and then hug each other as I could see them offer a silent prayer of gratitude. The sweet little boy did something different each time, but each time it was so precious.  He would give the small gift to his mother, he would look down with the biggest “wow” grin ever, he would bite his lower lip as if he were containing his excitement, he’d jump down from the doorway, he’d grab his mom’s leg in a bear hug.  I loved every one of their shots!

From my storyboard thoughts to the finished product, I think the scene that stood out the most was the very last shot in the finished video “Joy to the World”.  I wanted to show that even when we give, the JOY doesn’t stop there. Pix-23 I originally wanted to show that idea by capturing a shot of my family driving home after the days activities and then from our view, we would see the same homeless man who I gave money to earlier in the day, then giving back to others.  Since there wasn’t enough time to show all of that, I still wanted to capture the homeless man with the stocking in hand, obviously no longer with money in it, giving a bag of groceries to another homeless man. Since it was snowing quite heavily that day, the shot was beautifully portrayed. The last shot came out like this: A homeless man hunched down in a corner behind a building, trying to stay warm from the bitter cold and snow.  The only thing he has is a small blanket draped over his back. Pix-8 In the shot walks the homeless man, seen earlier in the video, holding two bags of groceries and an empty red Christmas stocking.  The shivering man looks up and says to the other, as he’s handed a bag of food, “For me?… THANK YOU!” Squatting down, they both proceed to open their grocery bags of blessings.  That, for me, made the video exactly what I wanted it to show.  That is, that when we give, we should give with our heart.  And sometimes we don’t know what really happens once we give to others.  We may never know.  But you can never go wrong when you give! That’s where the JOY comes in!  JOY to the World can only come when you give of yourself!

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m a little late in posting how “JOY to the World” came to be.  However, just to note, today it’s January 1, 2016.  And every where on social media I see, “For 2016, I want peace on earth!”  Peace on Earth – Joy to the World.  They come from the same place.  Giving of yourself.  Loving others.  Sharing goodness.  Smiling.  Helping.  Being kind.  Forgiving. Those produce JOY.  Those will bring the PEACE that we all seek.  I pray and hope and hope and pray that we can figure out this PEACE that we all seek.  I hope and pray and pray and hope that we will find JOY in our journey of seeking peace.  Love to all!  And from my heart to yours, JOY to the world!

Give (JOY) … and ye shall find (JOY)!

Sincerely,

Susan

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P.S. Isn’t Francesca Battistelli’s version of “Joy to the World” fabulous?!  So love it!

P.P.S. THANKS to ALL who were involved!!!  JUST – SO – GRATEFUL!!!

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Storyboard Excitement!

My father-in-law was here last weekend.  I played him a song I was planning on filming, and asked him to tell me what he saw.  I know what I saw but some places I was left blank.  He shared a couple of things after but added, “I don’t know how you come up with the concepts for your videos!”

For me, the creative process comes when I hear a song.  I always say, “If I can see it, I can do it!” … Mark always says, “If I can see it, I can shoot it!”  Yup, that’s how it goes.

With the song I asked my father-in-law to visualize, I realized that the block (emotionally, mentally, physically, etc) I was having was for a reason.  I went through the scope of Christmas songs again, searching for the one.  …. And it came!  That feeling is just so different!  When I first heard this new song (will share which one soon), I still had to search for the right storyboard idea.  But it came! It came!  It came!  It’s one of those MOMENTS of AH-HA! And it feels just so awesomely great!!!!

… Now for the approval of Mark and then coordinate the timing and all that!  YAAAAY!!!  *Wish me luck!*

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