Can you feel the Halchemy?

I’m writing this up because Silas said, “Making the Hal video was a major event in our family, so it belongs in the blog.” … okay!

Several months ago, my friend Mya Gosling sent a group of us a draft she was working on. It was a parody of “I’m Just Ken,” all about Henry V. I shared it with Silas, who was a little obsessed with the Barbie movie at the time.

He started singing it, just messing around, and I said, “That sounds really good…” He also started asking me about Henry V (and especially the Henry IV plays), in order to understand the song. We talked about the themes of strategic presentation, about what it means to “uphold the unyoked humor of your idleness,” to play the long game.

And then Mya released her Good Tickle Brain comic of the song, around the same time that I had gone down a bit of a rabbit hole showing Silas music videos (I think this was while we were getting ready for the eclipse trip—the music video for “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is unhinged). He was messing around, singing this version, and I said, “What if we made a music video as a gift for Mya?”

We started by having him practice the song until he felt really confident about singing it. He got some advice from the music director for a show he was in about how to hit those high notes (a tough reach for a person going through The Change). When we finally had a recording we liked, it was time to start lipsyncing…

Silas started storyboarding ideas and gathering props. We definitely needed a crown. He has a gorgeous sword his friend’s dad made him as a birthday gift. We pulled out the bows and arrows from the shed and he found a hockey glove (?) from somewhere.

Most of this was Silas’ inspiration, with a few things I threw in there. The hair toss, for one. I also remembered that I had a photo of him in a cloak standing *dramatically* at a specific overlook near our house, and I thought we could go up there and film in the same spot to create a transformation/transition effect, like Hal’s growing up.

Petra was helping out a ton behind the scenes, helping us stage shots, showing Silas how to hold a bow, managing the sound system. She was a huge help, but didn’t want to be on camera.

There are a few bits in the video that might be obscure or unclear. One of my favorites was that the original draft of the song had a line about the French, and I gave Silas the direction, “Eat this croissant like you’re conquering France.” It’s not in the final cut of the text, but we kept that moment anyway because the acting is on point.

Silas wanted a bit with him petting a horse, because of Barbie as much as medieval warrior culture. Unfortunately, the neigh-bors weren’t particularly obliging, so we used a photo he had on his phone. Anyone who has ever said, “So is my horse, Octavius,” might find this instant especially funny, but it goes by fast.

Even though I’m not the greatest at video editing, I love how this turned out. It is so ridiculous. We had so much fun making it. My kid can actually sing! He got to show off his dance moves (all four of them). And seriously, he can act (mustache twirling aside—the moment when he says, “Is my moment finally here?” gets me every time). He can take direction, while bringing in his own ideas. He’s an amazing collaborator. We all had so much fun creating together, and we loved getting to create something to honor the brilliant creator of the world’s foremost and possibly only stick figure Shakespeare comic (ps she has books, including her recent Hamlet. They are SO GOOD if you are looking for smart, yet accessible, Shakespeare material).


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