Writer brings music to life on YouTube

By Eli Haims

Leland Frankel ’12 walked backwards down a street adjacent to the Venice Beach Boardwalk with a video camera in one hand and an iPod in the other. “Beach Chair Reserve,” by Giant Pony, a band whose members include Frankel’s former tutor, played from the musical device. A woman in a bluegreen dress and red Ray-Bans followed Frankel, singing the lyrics to the song.

“Even with the person who wrote the song, it’s going to be tricky [to sync the music to the video],” Frankel said, while shooting a music video at the time. “You think you know something, and when you’re trying to sync up to it exactly, it doesn’t always work.”

Frankel began making music videos when he was given an assignment to make one in his video art class. That project, which featured Gus Woythaler ’12 and Dory Graham ’13, was filmed on the construction site in the Mudd Library and was one of nearly two dozen student films screened at the Harvard-Westlake Film Festival last month. The day before the festival, Frankel posted the video on YouTube, where it has since massed over 100 views.

“I liked the thought that I could share it with people, and hopefully I guess I could get a lot of people to see it,” he said. “I want to get a lot of reactions to it.”

Frankel started to upload videos to YouTube in seventh grade, when he first started making videos.

Although most popular videos on the site are watched hundreds of millions of times, he said that most of his videos have close to no views on the site, except for one entitled “Agent Bernard & Agent Fernando: Part 1.”

“Like five years ago, [the video] leapt up to having like 30,000 views overnight because suddenly all these video watchings were coming from Spanish speaking countries and all of the comments were in Spanish,” he said. “I think it was because the word Fernando was in the title of the video and for some reason that just popped up on more people’s browsers.”

Brian Gross ’12 said Late Nite Run, the band he and Jack Bloomfield ’13 play in, has been talking about making a music video since last November.

He added that once the band is able to get into the studio and record another track, they will start working on a video.

Gross said the band will most likely work with Frankel, as he is impressed with Frankel’s work.

Late Night Run currently has a couple of recordings of them performing live on YouTube, some of which Frankel has shot.

“I would say primarily Facebook is where we get the most views from and even then, it’s not a lot because people have a billion things on their wall,” he said. “One more video posted by some guy they kind of know isn’t going to stick out.”

Gross agreed that Frankel could do more to promote his videos to get more hits, but said that he does the majority of the promotional work for his band’s videos.

“A new-school way of doing things is Facebook and YouTube and unfortunately, in today’s society, that is the only way, that is the way to do it,” Gross said. “It seems like that’s where its headed and that’s what he should be doing.”

Frankel said he is primarily a writer, not a director, and keeps many of his screenplays off of the internet, as he sends them to studios in hopes of them being picked up.

“The stuff I do for fun, the stuff I make myself, I shoot myself, I put on YouTube to share,” he said. “The projects I make myself, independent of my agent or my producers or anything, those I’ll tend to put on YouTube.”

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