Andrew Cohen: UBC LipDub gives students a sense of belonging

Throw in a bunch of students lip-syncing to a catchy tune over one film shot and you have yourself a LipDub video.  Add one thousand volunteers, a unicorn, a Maserati, a helicopter, and the band Marianas Trench, and you have yourself a UBC LipDub video! Thanks to the work of BFA acting student, Andrew Cohen, and his team, UBC’s LipDub is quickly becoming the latest YouTube sensation.

UBC LipDub is an electrifying showcase of UBC school pride with a film shown in one shot highlighting exciting features of UBC campus life. Acting director, Andrew Cohen, started this project as a means of meeting new people and building a stronger university community.

“I have been a commuter student for the past four years and, as a result, I have never really felt any connection or affiliation to this university,” said Cohen. “I figured that since UBC has a population of almost 50,000 students, faculty and staff, and only 10,000 of which live on campus, there must be other people in my situation. So I thought this was a good place to start—it would give me and others an excuse to get involved in campus life”.

Of course a project of this scale is a huge undertaking.  Finding resources, getting financial assistance, and coordinating people requires a great deal of effort.

“I had an absolutely phenomenal team of volunteers,” said Cohen. “My co-producer, Bijan Ahmadian, former AMS president, was absolutely invaluable.  All of these things that ordinarily would have cost thousands of dollars, we were able to get for free because of the reputation he had built up with UBC.”

When asked how this grassroots production managed to score such a high profile band as its guest performer, Cohen said, “It was a friend of a friend sort of thing. I had a mutual friend who passed it along to Josh Ramsey and he was stoked about it.  They were fantastic!”

The appearance of Mariana’s Trench was also a great way of marketing UBC to a younger audience. Many teenage fans eagerly participated in the event in hopes of getting a chance to meet the band.

“If you look at the demographics for a video like this, it is not only the current students who made it, and their respective networks, but also the up-and-coming sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen-year-old students who are thinking about where they are wanting to go to university.”

As Cohen’s project continues to gain YouTube momentum. He wants to continue pursuing his passion for the arts long after graduation. And while it may be very difficult to sustain a living in professional arts in Vancouver at the moment, Cohen stresses that projects like this are a great way of promoting the Arts.

“I am really glad that we have something like this to show people that is, A: possible to make art for free that is respected, and B: we are just craving the funding so desperately. If we can do this with no money, imagine what we could do if we had financial support.”

UBC LipDub is raising money for Make a Wish Foundation for every hit and share they receive on YouTube. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised will go to this charity. Please continue to share this video with your friends and family. If you know anyone interested in pledging money, please contact: andrew@ubclipdub.com

Written by Erin Catherall
Article Published April 14, 2011