MHS 2020: It’s Your Time to Fly
Music video directed
by Eric Bruggeman
Conceived by David Greenbaum, edited by Jerry Fried.
Film crew and producers include John Hammond, Peter and Erica Daddabbo, MHS grad Maya Gelsi, Cindy Owgang, Steve McCarthy, Greg Pason, Michael Reitman, Montclair Makes Music Day, Indie Arts Montclair, Erica Insana, Scott and Shannon Gibson, Carlos and Kety Salem, Lauren Rosen, Chris Koch, Aviva Patz, Lawanda Beckett, Latascha Forster, Alex Leale, AJ Leale, Riddy Khan, Marilyn Lavergne, Sarah Damaskos, Gabriel Bruggeman, Karin Carson, parents and community members of Montclair.
By GWEN OREL
At Edgemont Memorial Park a few weeks ago, a crowd of about 200 people stood, safely social-distanced, on the island.
Music played through speakers.
The people cheered.
The music played again.
Cars driving by slowed down to look.
What people were witnessing was a gift being made: “MHS 2020: It’s Your Time to Fly,” a music video for graduating seniors.
In it they will see their teachers, administrators, coaches and parents, singing and cheering them on.
The brainchild of local dad David Greenbaum, the music video uses clips of teachers, people in businesses around town, and parents singing rewritten words to The Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These.”
Filmmaker Eric Bruggeman (“Sunshine Superman,” which appeared at the Montclair Film Festival in 2015) directed the short film. Former Mayor Jerry Fried edited it.
As of this past weekend, Greenbaum was still staging shoots at Applegate Farms and other local haunts.
“Nothing is regular,” he said. Greenbaum felt that seniors were being cheated. His own son is in the class of 2020; his daughter is a rising senior at Ohio State University.
He saw a video of the song by The Foo Fighters and thought to himself, “Wouldn’t it be great if somebody did a video and did something over the top, something extra.
“They deserve extra just to become whole.”
He mentioned the idea to Fried when the two men were talking about the election. Fried told Greenbaum he’d been an editor for 30-something years, and said, “I’m in.”
“It was a snowball rolling down a hill,” Greenbaum said. He worked his connections to get a parent list of the graduating seniors, and a teacher list.
He brought in John Hammond, of Outpost in the Burbs, and Bruggeman, both of whom he knew through a father-and-son tribe he founded in 2007 called Hiadudes!
The video tells a story: It begins with a quiet shot of two people (Greenbaum and Bruggeman) strumming a guitar in the amphitheater.
Then the camera on the drone lifts up and films above the trees. The middle part includes vocals of the teachers, people singing around town, and then the song becomes electric.
About 30 teachers participated, including former Principal James Earle.
“Everyone has said yes. The level of enthusiasm is off the charts,” Greenbaum said.
People were sent instructions to film themselves, but others came in to be filmed singing. “Each person brought their personality to it,” Greenbaum said.
And the video will be a surprise to the kids: “No one has a clue. This is all about spirit.”
Hiadudes! has a tradition of rewriting a pop song with lyrics about fathers and sons camping in the woods, Bruggeman said. When he heard about rewriting lyrics to be about graduating seniors he thought it sounded like an “awesome opportunity to create something really dynamic and positive for the seniors.”
The chorus goes:
It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you live to learn again
It’s times like these time and time again
As director, Bruggeman helped plan the filming, and prepared everything to make the shoot
Originally the plan was to film in the amphitheater, where students graduate, but the school did not grant access.
“So we switched it to Edgemont Park, and had parents congregate on the island. We had cameras on Valley Road across the water, and a drone from above,” he said. His 11-year-old son Gabriel found the electrical outlets hiding in the bushes in the park, so there was no need to bring a generator.
One thing Bruggeman is particularly proud of is the way the video reflects the “dynamism and the diversity we’re all so proud of in this town. We realized early on that it’s not worth doing unless we can represent visually the town we love,” he said. “It’s a big high-five and salutation for the seniors.”
In a way, not shooting a crowd in the amphitheater but having two lonely guitar players in the empty amphitheater tells the poignant story of how different this year is, Bruggeman said.
Some of the musical talent of the teachers amazed him.
And then the massive turnout from the parents, from all corners of town, was wonderful to see, he added.
“As they were doing it, there was incredible warmth and enthusiasm. They threw themselves into it, transporting themselves into what it feels like to graduate from high school. They were having fun, being goofy, rocking out, letting their hair down,” he said.
Physics, astronomy and chemistry teacher Jaymar Bugg “rocked his performance,” Greenbaum said. “He is the star of the video.” The teacher sang it in two different registers, first low and then high.
Bugg almost did not participate.
The instructions for filming at home intimidated him. But then the filmmakers put out a call for people to come in and be filmed.
“I said, ‘Why not, I want to do something for the seniors, something to see them off.’ I showed up and we recorded it,” Bugg said. “We all thought, ‘They probably have enough people, they don’t need us.’ Then they sent a couple of desperate emails. I thought, ‘OK, I guess they do need us.’”
Bugg sang in college and then was in the choir of Christ Church Montclair for years.
But people at MHS don’t know him as a singer.
Now he is glad he did it. “I had a great bunch of seniors this year. They are wonderful kids, and this is a way to do something nice for them.”
Local mom Karin Carson, who runs a Facebook group for parents of graduating seniors, knew she wanted to do something for the kids. Her daughter Lucia is in the class of 2020.
Carson thought about having a banner made with the kids’ photos.
When Greenbaum called her up with his idea, she said “Yep. That sounds really good.”
She’s one of the parents standing on the island.
“We were jumping, waving, blowing kisses,” she said. “It was an incredible experience. It had been months since we as parents came together for anything. We sang our hearts out.
“I found it very cathartic, very healing. We’re trying to give our kids something special, a celebration they weren’t getting any other way.”
She is confident that will come through in the video. Like Greenbaum, she’s pretty sure her child does not know.
Carson was involved in getting some of the “surprise” participants, like Earle.
“I think they will love seeing their teachers sing,” she said. This is a way for parents to surround the kids with some love, as they deal with the disappointment of graduating during a pandemic.
“We’ve been so powerless, really,” she said. “Montclair goes to great lengths to celebrate seniors in very special ways. We wanted something to give them.”