While a student at Sycamore School, Joey Mervis had already started to accumulate experience and practice, well on his way to the 10,000 hours that Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell talks about as integral to greatness. As a middle school student, Mervis worked on video projects, acted in plays, and started to take leadership roles amongst his classmates.

Now a senior at North Central High School, Mervis spearheaded the recent lip dub at the school and was the key player in the process - he directed and produced the video. They made it a fundraiser for the Caroline Symmes Endowment for Pediatric Cancer Research at Riley Hospital for Children.

"This endowment was started in honor of Caroline Symmes, a young girl who lost her battle with cancer at 5 years old because her doctors simply didn’t have enough research to treat her. In 2016, $5 billion was raised for cancer research, yet only 4% of that was directed to pediatric cancer research. When we learned this statistic and heard about Caroline’s story, we felt that her endowment would be the perfect place to direct the funds within Riley."

How did the pre-production start?
The four senior class council officers met with (teacher) Mrs. Decker for one class period a day beginning last August. We had to make a map of exactly where in the school we would travel during the video, and then determine which hallways needed to be secured and assign some of our crew to those areas. We also had to organize two units of filming, the first was the main lip dub at North Central, and the second was for the opening footage shoot in and around Riley Hospital.

What were a couple of the more difficult pieces to get right?
By far the biggest challenge of the video is that it had to be shot in one take. Once the camera started rolling, we couldn’t stop, no matter what happened. Also, we had no time during the school day to film, so everyone participating in the video had to volunteer their time on two days after school, one for a dress rehearsal and one to film. So the biggest challenge was time and being able to organize 1,000 people at one time.
What did you learn by doing the video?
I learned a lot about video production, marketing, the struggles of non-profits. However, the most important lesson I learned was that everyone can, and should, make a difference. That sounds very simplistic, but it really has changed my worldview. When we started this project and we learned about Caroline’s story, it became much less of a school project and much more of an obligation, in the best kind of way. It felt like it was completely within our power to accomplish this and therefore we had a responsibility to do it and do our part to help children battling cancer.


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