March 21, 2018
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Belfast is ‘Happy’: Hundreds of people participate in local music video

Courtesy of Mike Hurley
Courtesy of Mike Hurley
City employees and customers dance at the Belfast transfer station to the song "Happy." They're part of a music video that will have its premiere Friday, June 13, at the Colonial Theatre in Belfast.
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff

BELFAST, Maine — Paris. Tehran. Somaliland. Tahiti. Belfast?

One thing these locales have in common is the fact that their residents have danced joyfully in videos featuring the hit song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams — videos that have led to lots of smiles and millions of clicks on YouTube.

Belfast’s version is set to debut Friday afternoon in free showings at the Colonial Theatre, and theater co-owner and Belfast City Councilor Mike Hurley would like to invite everyone to come see just how happy his city is.

“I just thought it would be a great, fun promotional tool,” Hurley said this week.

Earlier this spring, Hurley started watching people around the world put their own versions of “Happy” on the Internet, including the one done by young dancers in Tehran who were thrown into prison shortly after the video was made public. He was enthralled by the sight of all the regular folks dancing to the infectious pop song and wanted to make a video in Belfast. He and downtown promotional group Our Town Belfast worked to get financial support from underwriters, and by April they were ready to start production.

Ned Lightner of BEL-TV shouldered his camera and went to nearly 100 places around Belfast to shoot groups of people dancing to “Happy.” They danced on the Belfast Armistice Footbridge on a rainy spring day, at Waldo County General Hospital, on train tracks, at the transfer station, at schools and in the aisles of shops. It became a major undertaking to get the footage for the four-minute music video, Hurley said.

“Well over 60 hours of filming, casts of hundreds, good and bad weather, cooperative and uncooperative people, children, animals of all kinds of fur, talented dancers, stiff-as-a-board dancers, uncontrollable extroverts, unwilling introverts dragged blinking into the light,” Hurley wrote to describe some of the challenges of shooting the video.

Lightner worked for days to edit the footage down into a short and a long version, and both the videos will be screened 3:30-5 p.m. Friday, June 13, at the Colonial. They’ll be shown on BEL-TV, the local public access cable station, on Friday evening and over the weekend, and after that will be shared with the world on YouTube.

“We believe the video will stand the test of time showing all of us and our city proud and ‘Happy,’” Hurley wrote.


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