by Evie Monroe/Lion Staff
Monday morning, students sit anxiously in their seats. We wait through the Ultras giving us the lowdown on whatever teams are playing and the announcements of club meetings, anticipating the moment Chris will click to the next slide letting us have a glimpse of what could possibly be this week’s lunch video.
For many of us, this is the only reason we finally stop hitting the snooze button and roll our tired bodies out of bed and while this may have been the original motivation behind the short films, it has moved much farther beyond this.
The core group of filmmakers is Chris Ocana, senior Richard Nolen, and senior BJ White. The three of them work well together because, according to Chris, they “tolerate each other and think we are good at things.”
Together they spend a lot of time brainstorming and have pages of unfinished scripts on Google docs, most of which will probably never see the light of day. “It usually comes down to us making jokes and then one of us likes it and we go off of that,” said Chris. “But Richard writes the most.” He scrolled through his notes showing me ideas for new possible lunch videos which included an interrogation, rap battle between foods, and kung-fu movie.
While scripts are a big part of it, improv also plays a role in the filming. “Almost all of the Christmas one was improv,” explained Chris. “We had a gist of what we wanted and then we just went off of it.” For those of you out there thinking that there is no censorship because of the improv this is sadly false. “We submit a rough script to faculty every week,” said Richard.
A lot of the props they use are not things they have just casually lying around the house. Richard spent 80 dollars on arts supplies for the Bob Ross skit, but Chris already owned the pizza guy suit and for the long awaited fish stick sketch Richard still has the real fish “sitting in his freezer.”
Chris has often joked in morning assemblies about the time they spend every weekend working on these videos and maybe you laughed it off, equating it to the time you spent filming your MTV cribs video for Spanish, but Chris estimates that they spend anywhere from 3 to 10 hours filming. “For the Bob Ross one we got there at 9am and we didn’t leave until 5:30,” he said.
With all the filming they always end up with way more footage than is useful. Chris estimates it is close to “3 hours worth of film” contained in their two DSLR cameras and a zoom cameras. Both Richard and Chris laughed when I asked about how much footage was actually used. “It all gets cut down to the three minutes you see every Monday,” said Richard.
With all this extra footage it led me to wonder what exactly we were missing. Naturally, there had to be tons of bloopers; they estimated around 30 to 40 hours worth. “There are a couple of ones we will probably show right at the end of the year,” said Richard.
Unlike a classic movie set the team doesn’t scout locations beforehand. “We kind of wing it, we’ll wake up and then try and find the best place to do it,” said Richard. They also rarely cast people beforehand, of course there are a few exceptions. “For the beef stew one we knew it was gonna be McLeod, but sometimes we just see what happens,” said Chris.
The videos aren’t just all for fun. The guys hope that eventually someone important will see them. They admitted that doing sketches had always been an idea of theirs. “I don’t think I realized until last week how much of an act we are putting on,” said Chris. They work out two different youtube channels and publish everything online. Richard even mentioned it in his Princeton interview. “I showed it to the the guy that interviewed me for Stanford and he thought they were really funny,” said Richard.
I asked Chris if he hoped the tradition would continue and he immediately replied with a firm “no.” “It’s funny ‘cause this whole thing started from Evan’s lunch jokes, but hopefully for their time and sake (the next president) won’t continue these,” he said. “Mr. Alig is my teacher and whenever I haven’t finished the reading he’s like ‘Oh, too much filming’ and I’m like ‘nah’, but in my head I’m like ‘Yeah that is exactly right’.”
Although this is a great part of Chris’ presidency, he regrets the fact that this may be the only thing that people will remember from his year as president. “I try my best to do other things and get stuff done, but eh,” he said, “every week it ends up being like I only came for the lunch videos.”