38. No pipers piping
December 21st, 2020

My True Love Gave to Me
(File under: short films, choirs, dictionaries)

Watch: youtu.be/zrUjiw15bYc

A few years ago I made three short films to promote Dictionary Stories. One involved Tom Rosenthal and a piano, another Roman Mars and a fistful of archival footage. But the most complex of the three required much more: months of planning, a venue, a director, a DP, a producer, a sound designer, a gaffer, an 8-person choir, and enough bagels and coffee to keep everybody sated on a cold Saturday morning in December.

The choir sang an arrangement of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, or rather a bootleg version rewritten using dictionary example sentences (‘Twelve labours of Hercules’ as an example of the word labour, ‘Four slices of bread’ as an example of the word slice, etc.) They were lit dramatically from above, sitting on enormous wooden thrones found in the basement of the venue (San Francisco’s Swedish American Hall), and holding dictionaries instead of sheet music. It is easily the most absurd 100 seconds of content I am partly responsible for.

Though it doesn’t hold a candle to 2020, I remember that 2017 was a hard and explosively heart-breaking year, like a 12-month fireworks display choreographed by depression itself. But somewhere in there, weaving between sound and lighting equipment, I tiptoed down a hardwood hallway like a cartoon burglar, and listened to vocal warm-ups eddying up into 100-year-old rafters.

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