USF, Students Star in Wyclef Jean Video

On the Set: Wyclef Jean (left) collaborated with USF students Alexandra Platt (center) and James Kilton on the production of a new video for his song, If I Was President.

Wyclef and students

WYCLEF JEAN versus Democratic Party rivals Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton? That’s the premise of a new music video of the hip-hop artist, directed by University of San Francisco media studies major Alexandra Platt.

In the video, shot on the USF campus and around the city, supporters wave signs reading “Wyclef for President” and mob the musician as he exits his tour bus en route to the War Memorial Gymnasium stage to perform a timely remix of “President,” a song he first recorded in 2004.

Platt, a sophomore filmmaker for USFtv and director of films for the Campus Activities Board, originally agreed to shoot Jean’s Feb. 15 concert as part of the university’s homecoming festivities, only to be contacted later by Jean himself asking if she’d make a new music video for him to be distributed to MTV, VH1, and other outlets.

“Of course, I said I would love to,” Platt said.

She immediately gathered a video crew of about 16 USF students, including USFtv co-founder and ASUSF President James Kilton to produce, and plotted the work ahead.

Then, a spur-of-the-moment bid by Jean to include the video as part of his scheduled appearance March 3 on CNN’s “Larry King Live” halved the production and editing time, throwing their well-laid plans into disarray, Kilton said. From the concert date Feb. 15 to the time they delivered the final edit Feb. 28, he and Platt lost sleep as they pulled all-nighters to incorporate edits from Jean, his recording label, and USF.

The quick turnaround required more than just production and editing skills. Key to pulling it off was the ability to juggle Sony BMG contract lawyers, USF concerns that the university not appear to endorse one candidate over another, thereby threatening USF’s nonprofit status, and other pitfalls, Kilton said.

“Because I’ve never done a production that is connected to a big company, I didn’t realize all of the steps that would be involved just to get to the actual shoot,” Platt said. From managing Sony and USF legal department requests, to organizing and securing release forms for students who appeared in the video, to meeting Jean, it was all a great learning experience, Platt said.

“I’ve never met a celebrity before, but you hear stories about how they think they’re better than ‘regular people,’ but Wyclef was amazing,” Platt said, explaining Jean’s excitement in meeting and working with USF students and the film crew.

With the video now in Sony’s hands and everyone reportedly pleased, she has finally had time to reflect on the experience. “The best part is realizing that all of the planning and time I put into this really paid off,” Platt said. “We have a final product that we can be proud of.”

Click here to view the video on YouTube

    « Back