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Teens’ ode to the city creates a spark

New West State of Mind video director Lorynne Machado frames up Will Clements at Westminster Pier Park, one of the many locations used to shoot the film that has drawn quite the reaction in New Westminster. - Grant Granger/NewsLeader
New West State of Mind video director Lorynne Machado frames up Will Clements at Westminster Pier Park, one of the many locations used to shoot the film that has drawn quite the reaction in New Westminster.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader

A film by two fresh-faced teenagers about their city has caught the imagination of Royal City residents, even the mayor.

Will Clements and Lorynne Machado were sitting around last summer listening to rapper Jay-Z and singer Alicia Keys perform Empire State of Mind. Since the chorus starts off with Keys singing an elongated New York, which isn’t too far off the official name of the Royal City, the proverbial light bulb went off in their heads.

“We can do this with New West,” the 15-year-olds exclaimed.

Clements has been a film freak since Grade 4 when he began using the video camera on his portable device. From then on whenever his birthday or Christmas rolled around XBox or video games weren’t on his wish list. He wanted money to put into his film equipment fund. When he finally saved up enough to buy what he needed he began shooting like crazy and set up his own YouTube channel (Chickenproductions47).

Machado, who wants to be an actress and has been in a few low-budget independent films, is just as passionate about film. They recently teamed up to shoot a 10-minute film called Oblivious.

After penning the New West lyrics for their version they recruited a few friends and shot the five-minute video in October, and posted it Nov. 17. Usually their efforts top out at 300 views, mostly from family and friends. Not New West State of Mind. “This one went crazy within one night,” says Clements. “Within a day of posting the video everyone (in school) had seen it.”

Clements said it really took off after the Downtown New Westminster BIA tweeted about it, and the day after it was posted they got word Mayor Wayne Wright loved it and invited them to show it at an upcoming council meeting. New West State of Mind was pushing 2,000 views as of Monday as word spread through social media including tweets from city councillors and school trustees.

“It’s really the youth speaking about the city,” says Clements, of the lyrics that speak affectionately about the city but also take a few swipes at it.

The chorus is a good example:

New West... Heritage homes and crazy people

There’s nothing you can’t do

Now you’re in New West

These royal parks will make you feel brand new

These schools will inspire you

Let’s hear it for New West, New West, New West

“It’s the truth in New Westminster,” says Clements. “We have a lot of heritage homes and we have a lot of crazy people. We’re all crazy people. Being normal is boring.”

Since Clements was going to be one of the vocalists he needed someone to direct his segment. The more he thought about it the more he realized it might be better to have one director, so one day in music class he asked Machado, “Do you want to direct the entire video?”

She enthusiastically agreed.

But Clements didn’t let go easily.

“I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit of a control freak,” he says of the filming process. “But I love Lorynne and I trust her fully. She had amazing ideas that I thought worked really well.”

They chose locations in Queen’s Park and at Westminster Pier Park for the rap sequences. The most challenging part for her, however, was getting the light right for Jolene Bernardino’s singing the chorus in the NWSS band room. Like the video, they wanted a dark background but daylight kept streaming through the windows. But it also turned out to be the most rewarding part of the shoot.

“Hearing our lyrics being sung perfectly, beautifully, I almost shed a tear,” says Clements, whose father is a music teacher at NWSS.

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