The Casting for Happy Monaco
It was mid March when I received an email asking if I would agree to participate in a clip “Happy” by Pharrell Williams adapted to Monaco. I answered with a categoric “Yes” attaching a photo and agreement to be filmed, even before I read the rest of the message; such was my excitement to be part of such a cool undertaking. It was afterwards that I realized that somebody I knew well, Lucette Legot from the locally based Kanzaman film production company was part of the production team that included film students all volunteered for the project. Their main objective was to produce a video in several landmarks in the Principality and show the Monegasque diversity in all its dimensions: human, social, professional and generational, with the shooting spreading out from April 1 to 5. The weather did not cooperate but the filming crew and production team worked long hours for free to get the job done on schedule, and they succeeded beautifully! This newly released six-minute Happy Monaco video is unique in capturing the heart of the Principality through the joyful performance of more than 40 residents of all ages, including several famous faces in familiar places and also most unusual locations, including the Oceanographic Aquarium (underwater), the Opera, the heliport and in the underground caverns of the Exotic Garden.
As for my expected participation, I was asked to meet the filming crew at the Exotic Garden mid afternoon and the dress code called for black tie attire! To my surprise I had to go down 300 slippery steps into the heart of the humid observatory cavern. I gathered some courage and went one step at a time, and begged Lucette who accompanied me not to tell me how many steps were left! Fabrice from the Exotic Garden took good care of our safety and that of the filming crew so we will always be grateful. When I arrived to the center of the Earth I was ready to be filmed dancing to the rhythm of the “Happy” song! It will be an experience I will never forget and the video is there as a reminder!
If you have never been inside the Observatory Cave, take a look: http://www.jardin-exotique.mc/en/the-observatory-cave/the-observatory-cave–29-06-2011/
Some of my friends that were also part of the clip are: Zhang Zhang well known violinist for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Monte-Carlo who danced in the Sanitation station in Fontvieille for a contrasting effect; Nico de Monaco ex dancer with the Ballets of Monte-Carlo who was cast as a very happy helicopter driver; ever smiling Kate Powers founder of much loved sports bar complex Stars’N Bars; dance teacher Stefania Zefiro who opened the clip with her sensual middle Eastern moves; Marie-Cecile Proust wife of the ex State Minister of Monaco; diver extraordinaire Pierre Frola dancing under water; as well as my dear girlfriend Sabine and her son Ben among other members of the cheery cast.
The premiere at Stars’N Bars
The Happy Monaco video official version was finally screened on April 29 at a special Happy Hour at Stars’N Bars for the Monegasque public who came in great numbers to meet the members of the production team and the protagonists. The day after it was released in YouTube and to this date it has received from than 16,680 hits and counting. Pharrell Williams Happy Monaco (official edition) by Kanzaman: http://youtu.be/WSKPqXw6l8g
Who is Kanzaman Monaco?
Kanzaman Monaco was founded in 1993 and has produced and co-produced various feature films including several James Bond films, the Mummy, Bourne Ultimatum and Basic Instinct 2. The group also produces television commercials and musical videos. Frederic Bovis, cofounder, said the video is “a gift of love to Monaco thanks to everyone involved who offered their time, materials and hard work free of charge.” He added that the video, directed by Roberto Anastasi, shows Monaco’s “human side” not often evident in press coverage of the Principality and that viewers will be moved by how the film captures Monaco’s “happy” sense of community.
The song Happy by Pharrell Williams
“Happy” is a song performed by American singer and producer Pharrell Williams from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack album. It also serves as the lead single from Williams’s second studio album, GIRL (2014). The song was written and produced by Williams and came out on November 21, 2013, alongside a long-form music video. It is a neo soul and funk song on which Williams’ falsetto voice is comparable to Curtis Mayfiel, and has been highly successful, peaking at number one in the USA, UK, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and 19 other countries, selling over 1.3 million copies in the UK. The song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 86th Academy Awards on March 2, 2014, but lost to “Let it go” from Frozen. When GQ magazine asked Williams “how badly” did he want the Oscar, he responded: “When they read the results, my face was…frozen. But then I thought about it, and I just decided to…let it go.”
To coincide with the single release, the website 24hoursofhappy.com was launched featuring a visual presentation of “Happy” advertised as being “the world’s first 24 hour music video” by creative director Yoann Lemoine. The video consists of the four-minute song repeated with various people dancing around Los Angeles and miming along. Williams himself appears 24 times on the hour with a number of celebrity cameos including Kelly Osbourne, Magic Johnson, Sergio Mendez, Jimmy Kimmel, Steve Carrell, Jamie Fox and so on. The minions from Despicable Me 2 make several appearances.The original video spawned many cover videos on YouTube in which people from different cities throughout the world dance to the song. Those videos are usually called “Pharrell Williams – Happy – We are from (name of the city)”. As of today the phenomenally popular song Happy has inspired more than 1,500 YouTube videos in nearly 130 countries.
There is a website that showcases the remakes: http://www.wearehappyfrom.com