‘Funny or Die’ looks familiar

Sophie Kupiec-Weglinski

It all started with a promise.

“Vote for me, and I’ll convince the school to sell candy and junk food in the cafeteria,” a candidate for student body president says in the “Funny or Die” video “Snackpocalypse.”

He wins in a landslide, obviously.

Fast forward a few weeks. All of the bright students have been reduced to zombies by their unhealthy diet. Sprawled across floors and tables, they can only move so far as to reach for another candy bar or chip bag.

Out of this sluggish and trans-fat-filled nightmare emerges the heroine, a girl who rejects the unhealthy ways of her peers.

Instead of chomping on chocolate bars she munches on carrots. Instead of slobbering on the ground and struggling to move, she briskly makes her way across the cafeteria with a purpose in mind.

She’s going to save these souls with the power of nutrition. She makes her way to the only remaining vending machine with fruits and vegetables.

She puts in the coin. She waits for the apple to fall. She’s so close to victory. The apple gets stuck, so she improvises. It turns out that all of this has been inside a TV screen, and the screen turns off.

“I hate it when movie teasers give away the ending,” first lady Michelle Obama says before taking a bite out of a carrot.

The video ends.

Watch this comedy sketch. Notice something eerie in the background? Does the campus on which the video takes place look familiar?

That’s because the film was shot on the upper school campus during the summer. The video, which was posted online Sept. 2, had 680,000 views as of press time.

The video aims to promote healthy eating, which the first lady supports.

As a rule, Harvard-Westlake never lets outside companies use the campus for filming, but the school made an exception in this case.

Drew Foster ’08 was a summer assistant at “Funny or Die,” and when the producers needed a campus on which to film their video, he had an idea.

“We needed a photogenic and versatile campus with many eye-catching nooks and crannies,” Foster said. “And equally as important, we needed a great location partner to work with. Harvard-Westlake was the gold standard for both of those needs.”

In came the video cameras, producers and cast (which included names like Chloe Moretz and Tyler Posey). For “Funny or Die” to gain access to campus, the producers had to get the permission of Chief of Campus Operations and Construction Jim DeMatte, who oversees daily operation of the campus.

Director of Communications Jill Shaw said that Foster and the rest of “Funny or Die” crew was lucky to be able to film on the campus, as she receives dozens of requests to film on campus from college students and executives needing a site to film commercials. The answer to all of these pleas is a resounding “no.”

“We almost never allow filming on campus because it’s very disruptive to how the school operates, but we’ve known the Foster family for a long time,” Shaw said. “It was a very quiet time on campus, so we agreed to do it. They were great to work with, very courteous. They did not disrupt at all.”

Foster is now a full-time employee at “Funny or Die” as a production assistant.

Performing arts teacher Ted Walch, who taught Foster in high school, is not surprised at all with Foster’s work.

“He was one of my very best cinema studies students ever, and he was an impressive and articulate co-leader of the Harvard-Westlake Film Festival,” Walch said. “My hunch is that Drew will in time become a fine and successful filmmaker. He’s got what it takes.”

Students are also impressed with the film.

“I think it’s so interesting and cool that Harvard-Westlake is appearing in the media, especially something as widespread and popular as ‘Funny or Die,’” Alexandra Kass ’15 said. “I loved recognizing the campus in the video.”