HomeBruin Harmony's John He: How We Ended Up In "The Social Network"

Bruin Harmony is UCLA’s only all-male a cappella group. Being in the middle of Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, we’ve always known there are tons of opportunities all around us for performing, but during our four years of performing never really saw any. But in the middle of UCLA’s fall quarter last year, Bruin Harmony got an e-mail from Laray Mayfield, a name you may have seen in the opening credits of some movies, but probably glossed over. She informed us she was the casting director for a feature film for Columbia Pictures, and she was interested in casting us.

The call was for eight guys, ages 18-24, all ethnicities. We were to depict the Harvard Krokodillos, a renowned old school group from Harvard. Needless to say, we were ecstatic. We immediately set up a meeting with Laray and went on over to her office for a meeting. She told us more details when we got there. The film was entitled The Social Network, directed by David Fincher and starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake. You’ve probably seen the promos for the film by now, a movie depicting the founders of Facebook.

We were to sing a cover of “I Swear”, from All-4-One, while depicting the Kroks. To be honest, I’ve never actually heard the Kroks, but I’ve heard from multiple people that the Krokodillos, the epitome of the singing “Harvard gentleman,” would never perform something as poppy as “I Swear”. Being unfamiliar with this old school, East coast a cappella, I asked Laray if she had more details for the scene we were going to shoot.

I was volunteering at the UCLA Medical Center when I got a call from Ren Klyce, who was nominated for an Oscar for his work with Fincher as the sound designer on Fight Club. I immediately dropped what I was doing, excused myself, and went outside, where I spoke to Klyce. He told me the general outline of the scene, and how it fit into the movie (which I won’t spoil for you), and explained what kind of musical sound they were going for.

I was definitely feeling out of my league at this point. This was the beginning of my first year directing Bruin Harmony, and I’d only been singing a cappella for a little more than a year. However, that summer, I had spent a week with Bill Hare and Deke Sharon, the a cappella legends, and figuring that they had a lot more experience with this stuff than I did, I e-mailed them.

One thing I’ve quickly learned in a cappella, in my limited time being in the community, is that there’s always someone who is willing to help you out. In our case, Deke was gracious enough to provide us with a perfect arrangement of “I Swear” for the style and setting of the scene. If the Kroks were ever to go through a repertoire-changing crisis, I’m fairly confident that that’s exactly how they would have sung it.

Fast forward to the day of filming. During the middle of midterms week, we showed up to the set at 7:00 AM, feeling completely groggy. One of us hadn’t slept the night before. The eight of us were ushered into the trailers to change into our costumes (very sharp looking tuxedos), and then brought onto the actual set for filming. They had given us very little time to warm up, but hey, no more bets. We spent the day singing take after take of the song, sometimes with us in focus, and sometimes with us in the background with the actual dialogue scene filming.

At some point they recorded us and played it back for us to hear. We sounded terrible. They seemed satisfied, however, and moved on. I was freaking out, already playing imaginary scenarios where people think less of me as a music director because my group sounded terrible on a feature film.

We finished off the day with an impromptu performance of some of our songs for the costume people. After pretending (I guess they call it acting) to be the Kroks all day, it was nice to be able to finish the day off as Bruin Harmony. Still, I was so worried I shot an e-mail to Klyce, letting him know if the takes they took were too terrible, we were more than willing to come in again and re-record.

We actually saw the film two weeks ago at a cast and crew screening. It’s actually a great film. And that scene that I was so worried about? We sound alright, and it fits right in with the movie. If you’re interested to see how the final product turned out, go check it out. It opens today.

About the author:
John He is a fourth-year Physiological Science major at the University of California, Los Angeles. He currently serves as the Music Director for Bruin Harmony, UCLA's only all-male a cappella group. He has also worked as an intern for A Cappella Records and has also served as a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARA) nominator and judge. John is currently producing and recording Bruin Harmony's debut album, set to release sometime this year.

Comments

So. Awesome.

You dudes are true ballers.

Matt Emery CASA Director of Communications Three-time Recipient of RARB "Post of the Year" Title

Uh...

They spelled my last name wrong. ;)

John He
Executive Producer | Los Angeles A Cappella Festival
Music Director | Bruin Harmony
Nominator & Judge | CARA

How bummed are the Kroks

How bummed are the Kroks right now that they didn't get to play themselves?

Yeah

I wondered the same thing. They probably hate us, heh.

John He
Executive Producer | Los Angeles A Cappella Festival
Music Director | Bruin Harmony
Nominator & Judge | CARA

Congrats!

What an awesome experience!  Can't wait to see it in the film.

congratulations

That sounds like a wonderful experience...a true hollywood time. Hopefully, many more will come your way.

[=#8040BF]http://www.rarb.org/people/thomas-king.html http://www.deltacappella.com CASA Dir. of Ambassador Program SoJam Producer & Concert Mgr Sing Producer CAL jd All Things A Cappella FOTS #1 ICCA Producer Emeritus "the

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