Here’s a running list of the Happy Dancers in the Pharrell Williams official 24 Hours of Happy video. At the very bottom of this web page is a list of everybody’s names, and I’m beginning to cross-index their dance times. I’m not going to try to rate these dance vids too harshly; the main purpose of this page is just to list the dances and identify the people. Asking people to do impromptu dances on a city street is hard enough. So everybody receives 1 star unless there’s something highly unusual about it (with 3 stars being the best).
The Fastcocreate article about the filming said that filming took 11 days and 2 separate days for Pharrell’s stuff.
Those chosen by audition had the advantage of getting the song in advance, allowing them to rehearse their moves. But on the day itself, everyone got just one take, including Pharrell. “That’s what accounts for the charm,” says Valdes. “Everyone knew they had one shot–this was their moment to go all out, and we love that.” “The video’s imperfections, the funny bloopers and mess-ups, are what give it character,” says Pharell, whose own performances alternated between what he calls “semi-choreographed” (see the bowling alley at 11:00 p.m.) and improvisation. “I’m not interested in perfection. It’s boring. Some of my favorite moments are accidental. There’s one where I’m underground. I was turning a corner just as a train was coming in our direction, and it stopped right on cue! It was weird. The universe gave us great moments that day.” … WAFLA chose to shoot in Los Angeles, … starting at sunrise in Downtown L.A., moving to LAX, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Hollywood, among other places, ultimately circling back to Downtown.
I was lucky enough to be a part of this as the location manager. It was a rough one. Not sure how Jon (Beattie) did it. We did 12-15 hour days. There was a crew of 15-20 people with us at all times. Sometimes when we where shooting, we would have to make a u-turn to head back the other way. So all of a sudden, this mob of people would have to stand behind the camera, and do a 180 in sync. It was madness. There would also be times when we had to make a quick decision on which way to go. We would scout ahead and find out that the street was blocked, so at the last second, we changed the route. We also had fun with the talent. We would find someone walking down the street, and invite them to be a part of the video. It turned out amazing.
The biggest obstacle was the fact that we were walking backwards through non-locked off streets and side walks. I ran into many a telephone pole and street sign, and on several occasions had to crawl under John to stay out of the picture. It was a lot of fun to work on, and I think the 4 minute edited version looks great.
Background about the Video: 2 Minute Behind-the-Scenes Video and interview with the directors, Fastcocreate profile of the production process, A video production blog describes the lens, filming process, etc.
Other articles with lots of photos and snarkiness: We Watched Pharrell Williams 24 Hours Happy Video so you didn’t have to , Pitchfork’s 5 Best Things about the Happy Video, Christopher Grant Harris expanded account of dancers (with generous screenshots); Wikipedia page for the Pharrell Williams Happy song (it doesn’t yet have a separate page).
My favorites so far are: Happy Hair! 3:32AM, Bollywood-style dancer Monica Moskatow 7:56AM, Elegant Blonde Girl in Street 9:56 AM (just magical!), Jiggly guy with a fan 11:28AM, Preteen Acrobatic Girl 12:28 PM, Asian Gene Kelley 1:28 PM, 2 Asian guys in tuxes in front of a Star Bucks 2:20pm, Girl in Polka Dotted Dress 7:16PM (unbelievably good!) Man on Stilts at 7:36 PM, Amazing & Speedy Guy at 10:44 PM (Amazing Choreography!), 2 Cute & Entertaining Girls at the Bowling Alley 11:08PM, Hula Hoop Girl 11:40 PM (but seriously I’m only getting started)
How to Help: If you know the name of any of the dancers, mention it in the comment section. (If you were one of the dancers who participated, drop me a line — I’d love to do a brief interview!). I’d also like to identify the buildings and neighborhoods if you know it. (I will probably look through Youtube comments for help, but give me time!) . April 2 Update: I’m currently gathering information about places where everything was shot. I hope to have a nice map showing landmarks and dance paths fairly soon. Stay tuned. I definitely appreciate everybody who identifies the dancer’s name. By the way, I’m behind on doing my screenshots and commentary, but the index of all the actors (at bottom) is updated every day.
Disclaimer: I am aware that the video project was part of a world-wide social media campaign for the movie. I am a willing pawn here. But I think the 24 hour dance project is interesting for its own sake and really transcends the song or the movie it’s trying to pimp. It’s a great way to document a city and the fashions and decor of the time. I shall write more about that later.
This page will be extremely long and is definitely a work in progress. A lot is still incomplete. I’ll fill in all the dances and hours eventually, but for now I’ll be just skipping around, giving first preference to non-celebrities. As an aside, let me say how tricky it is getting a good non-blurry screenshot from youtube on a Linux PC when the dancers are moving so swiftly (and often in the dark!)
Tangential Aside #1: You may already have heard about the fatal car accident of Courtney Ann Sanford, caused by the Facebook update she posted while driving, “The Happy Song makes me fell so happy.” What a tragedy! I do not condone texting while driving (and certainly don’t believe the song deserves any blame here), but this page needs to acknowledge that a song about being happy is just a song — ephemeral, distracting and even a bit escapist. All humans need a little bit of happy in their lives, but we also need to recognize that happiness — like life itself — is a fragile commodity. Ultimately this dance video (and this page) is precisely a celebration of this ephemerality — while we still have time. Tangential Aside #2: You knew it was going to happen: some repressive regime was going to ban the song “Happy” or arrest the people who made the dance clip. Seems like Iran couldn’t resist the opportunity to steal the thunder. (Read more) This seems to come straight out of a Kundera novel.
Postscript 1: While clicking the links from this page to the youtube video from an iPad, I noticed that the link doesn’t cue to the right time on the hour. I also noticed that youtube feeds too many commercials. Shucks! I guess I’m going to start changing the URLs to the 24hoursofhappy.com domain so you don’t have to sit through unnecessary commercials. This will take a while for me to do.
Postscript 2 (April 18 2015). Sorry, guys. Work stuff has prevented me from doing anything since September. (I’m a first year teacher at a middle school). I will resume working on this page in May and hopefully finish in mid summer.