By RAY SMITH
When Ryan Cunningham entered Allegheny College, he thought of film production as a hobby and planned on studying to become a dentist. Now, two years removed from establishing a production company named Live Productions with his friend Matthew Burek, Cunningham is set to produce his first music video.
Cunningham is currently designing his own major at Allegheny: digital filmmaking and producing.
The music video, which will feature the rap group The Soof Boyz and their new song “Ray Charles,” will be filmed at an off-campus house at Allegheny on Feb. 27. The video will be shot in two parts; one taking place in Meadville and the other in Times Square in New York.
“The Soof Boyz are a small group out of New York City, and they contacted my friend, who will be directing the shoot,” Cunningham said. “They really wanted to do a music video to their song ‘Ray Charles’, so they were really excited about it and they saw our work online and asked if we wanted to do it.”
After contemplating with his lifelong friend and Live Productions Director Matthew Burek, they agreed to go forward with the video.
Burek, a student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, is the co-founder of Live Productions, which was started in the summer of 2008.
“My love for directing came many years ago in high school when I fell in love with the power of cinema,” Burek said. “Since then I have been developing what was once a hobby into a lifestyle of capturing the character’s story through the power of a lens.”
Burek, who describes his career thus far as “a blessed mix of networking luck,” calls filmmakers Clint Eastwood and Quentin Tarantino his mentors who have helped him understand the craft of directing and producing.
“The knowledge I receive from them and from film studies have paved the way for this December where I will finally be moved into my permanent home in Los Angeles,” Burek said.
Cunningham, ’12, who is a producer and actor for Live Productions, has worked on small public service announcements and short films. Live Productions is currently working on a feature film that Cunningham and his company plans to pitch to Dreamworks and Universal this summer in Los Angeles.
The PSAs completed by Live Productions in the past have focused on drug use, using the creative element of telling a story from the eyes of a child, and drunk driving, in which Cunningham stars as a high school football player who made the wrong choice to drink and drive.
“We’ve done a lot of stuff that would be beneficial to put on the air,” Cunningham said. “We usually do stuff that we believe in and that a lot of people can find useful.”
This is the first time that Live Productions will be producing a music video.
“I have worked on feature films, shorts and commercials, but have never filmed a music video,” Burek said. “Variety is crucial in the film industry so I am thoroughly excited to film my first music video at Allegheny College.”
Cunningham was able to lay out the time frame for producing the video.
“We were originally going to shoot the video the first weekend back here [after winter break],” Cunningham said. “But we wanted to make sure this was good. We wanted to give us as much time we were able to work with as possible. By doing that, we are able to fulfill everything we need to do.”
While the video shoot is a month from now, Cunningham and his production company are casting and making sure logistically that everything will work out just fine.
The Soof Boyz and Live Productions will be in Meadville on a Friday to set up, try to complete filming on Saturday and then edit and be ready to shoot the second part in Times Square the next weekend.
“We’re probably going to have a 10 person staff,” Cunningham said. “Two camera operators, my friend [Burek] directing, I’ll be there, two or three grips, a DP [director of photography] and a few other people to work with the extras.”
Though there will not be any alcohol at the party, it could turn out to be one of the most popular parties on campus.
“We’re hoping for 50 to 70 people extra wise,” Cunningham said. “We’re going to make it a black light theme party, with black light paint, fog machines, strobe lights; we really want to go the whole nine yards.”
Burek, the music video director, did not have trouble deciding on Allegheny for his choice.
“Selecting the house was probably the easiest decision I made,” Burek said. “My best friend and fellow producer, Ryan Cunningham, is currently a sophomore at Allegheny so I have spent many nights up there and taking in the ‘Gatorville experience.’ When I come up, I spend most of my time either at Ryan’s or at C.J. Bell’s house, which he shares with four other awesome guys. So when location scouting begged for a college house, C.J.’s place was my first choice.”
Even without alcohol there, Cunningham is planning on reaching out to the Meadville police. There will be music and a large crowd, so he does not want to have to worry about neighbors calling the police about what may seem to be a regular Allegheny party, but is in reality a professional production.
C.J. Bell, ’10, lives in the house that is hosting the music video.
“I’m doing it pretty much to help out my friend,” Bell said. “I’m not really worried because it’s an alcohol free event. People are going to be on set so they can’t really be drinking.”
Burek, Cunningham and the rest of Live Productions are looking to create a fun, party-like atmosphere for everyone while also producing a quality music video.
“Our goal is to depict a fun college party where DJ DoubleClick is rockin’ hits until the early morning,” Burek said. “College party theme aside, we have spent time developing new creative elements to make this video not only a ‘college party’ music video but also an artistic music expression.”
Cunningham says that his goal is to promote the Soof Boyz.
“We’re looking to get their name out there as much as possible,” Cunningham said. “They’re a really good group and I think they can go far as long as they keep going and pushing forward. We really believe in them in that sense.”
Filming will take place on Feb. 27. Students interested in more information about the event or possibly becoming extras should check out the Facebook event here.
The Sunday Special will also be printed in Thursday’s edition of The Campus.