Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis students are dancing in a music video to Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off.” But they are doing more than dancing to the catchy beat. They are raising awareness about a social issue and challenging other college students to do the same.
The video was created by an IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI freshman student Jacob Harris, who was inspired by videos of others dancing to Swift’s song. Harris is pursuing a Media Arts and Science degree.
“I saw the videos and kind of brainstormed a little bit,” Harris said. “I thought it would be really cool to do and to do it for a great cause.”
He settled on raising awareness about suicide prevention. In a message posted with the video, Harris provides the Web address for a suicide prevention website and a telephone number. He wrote, “If you are having thoughts of suicide, there is always help…You are loved and you are important no matter what. And if you still don’t think you are, you’re wrong. There are so many great things about life still ahead for you.”
Harris also challenged students at Indiana University Bloomington, Purdue University and Wabash College to produce their own “Shake It Off” video. He urged them to choose their own cause about which they could raise awareness.
Using University Library at IUPUI as a backdrop, Harris set up a video camera on a tripod. With the help of a roommate and two signs, Harris asked students as they passed the camera if they would dance for a few seconds in the video.
He had a box with an assortment of props, including wigs of various colors, a clown nose, a magic wand, a lime-green traffic vest, sunglasses and a pirate hat that dancers could wear, if they wished.
The fledging filmmaker learned that it is harder than one might think to get people to be in a video.
“About 80 percent of the students walking by wanted nothing to do with the video,” he said. “We had to beg some to do it. Some people wouldn’t dance alone on camera, so my roommate and I danced with them,” he said.
Two and a-half hours later, after a second shoot at the Campus Center and a little editing, the video was done.
“It was fun to do and it would be so cool if it could help save a life,” Harris said.