By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan
Covering the biggest events of 2015 did not keep the men and women of ABS-CBN News from spreading some Christmas cheer with a little fun and lip-syncing.
The assignment: a simple music video to cap the 2015 Integrated News Christmas party.
The outcome: a happy project that went beyond the journalists behind it.
News logistics head Mitchelle Tan recruited reporter Jeff Canoy to direct. Jeff then drafted me to the team to help shoot and form the final cut. We wanted to deliver a piece that would represent all departments in the news division.
Jeff–along with fellow reporters Jenny Reyes and Chiara Zambrano—had also directed the 2012 viral video of Kapamilya anchors and reporters singing along to the Backstreet Boys tune “I Want It That Way”.
A sequel to the “I Want It” video was hinted at back then–long before Dubsmash trended among Filipinos. But none came through until now.
This time, American pop diva Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” was the dubbing pick. And it would not just be the on-air personalities singing, but also the drivers, technicians, cameramen, production assistants, researchers, writers, editors, producers, bosses and support employees who keep ABS-CBN’s news platforms up and running.
Jeff wanted to up the ante. The iPad he used to shoot in 2012 now became just the music player. We had a DSLR and a laptop for the rest.
There were only a few days before the division party. So, in between coverages of the worsening holiday traffic (one of which included a bike ride along EDSA), Jeff and I shot the takes at the broadcast center with Mitchelle and some co-workers who tagged along.
We hauled any reporter who was around, picked their lines and paired them with the available members of a news department. We also visited the anchors of our main platforms TV Patrol, Bandila, ANC and DZMM in their studios and convinced them to sing.
Jeff lugged the camera. I borrowed his to shoot when he was preparing reports. News courier Michael Bagtas at times brought his own cam. Fellow field producers July Cruz, Rommel Manimbo acted as “audio people” with me to play music from the iPad.
Reporters Francis Faulve and Jobert Navallo joined us in pitching in lights from our phones, while Mitchelle, July and reporters Zen Hernandez and Chiara Zambrano became floor directors, motivating the “talents” with their own gyrations and shouts of “Energy! Energy!”
Many took heartily to the shoot, like the Field Operations boys who even brought out their LED lights to the ENG truck parking area at dusk. Illuminated by the lights, no less than our big boss Ging Reyes kicked off the video from there.
There were the current affairs staff and make-up artists who dusted off Christmas decorations to use for their parts. Employees who grabbed—wait, borrowed—actual corporate gifts as props. And execs like Futures, Investigative and Research Group head Chi Almario who choreographed steps for her team.
The units’ names can be a mouthful, like News Systems and Technology Management (a.k.a. our studio, field, editing, graphics and technical operations), and they aren’t all identified in the video. But they along with others like the Central News Desk, News Library, Human Resources and Business Development provide the fuel for what you see on the air and online.
Across the globe
The video gradually took shape, but we felt it could grow in scope and tuck in some surprises.
Jeff chatted up our bureaus and reporters overseas if they could send videos. Locally, we also tried getting shots from a station in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to stand for the over 20 affiliates making up our regional team all over the Philippines.
And those who sent theirs in the limited time did not disappoint. One even uploaded a well produced shot just a couple of hours before the music video was finished.
The unexpected appearance of the North America news team led by bureau chief Paul Henson drew the biggest cheers when the video finally premiered at the middle of the News Christmas Party.
Jeff and I were still editing and exporting the video even as the party program had already begun. Hearing the final piece on loudspeakers amid the cheers and laughs of our colleagues gave us a sigh of relief.
Delighted with the video, Ms. Ging also had it shown to Kapamilya employees at the corporate Christmas party the following week, and then cleared it for sharing on social media after.
It took three years, but “ain’t nothing but a heartache” finally found a happier Christmas sequel.
The sight of our icons jamming with our behind-the-scenes personnel expressed the spirit of what our news organization has faced and overcome together in 2015.
It’s our way of sharing the unity and hope that we pray for our country in the coming crucial year.
Aren’t those what we all want this Christmas?