Watch: Funny Pre-Viz of NPH's Musical in 'Harold & Kumar Christmas'
by Ethan Anderton
November 9, 2011
Last night we featured a fun behind-the-scenes video featuring the crew of A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas in 3D (the film is truly an irreverent comedy that will be around for many Christmases to come), but now we have something that actually gives us a peak behind the curtain at the outrageous flick. Director Todd Strauss-Schulson (@TheRealTSS on Twitter) just keeps the goodies coming, and his latest treat is a pre-visualization video storyboard of the showstopper musical sequence that Neil Patrick Harris, John Cho and Kal Penn brought to life. But before that, the sequence was crafted just as you see it below!
Here's a video storyboard sent our way by director Todd Strauss-Schulson from his official website:
As for shooting such an intricate musical sequence in such an inexpensive and simple fashion, director Todd Strauss-Schulson said it was an invaluable part of the process:
I did a video storyboard of the NPH showstopper musical sequence to communicate my ideas to the crew. That includes shot sequencing, timing, movement, and all the gags. The sequence is nearly a shot-for-shot duplicate of what ended up in the final cut of the film. Basically, it was like shooting a little movie back in high school and allowed for a lot of creativity. The cunnilingus leg spread gag was actually invented on the spot and it's probably my favorite image in the whole movie.
The sequence itself is actually inspired by a legendary musical director and choreographer, and it was that style from decades past that actually dictated how the camera moved through the entire sequence, thus making a pre-visualization like this not only helpful, but necessary. Strauss-Schulson elaborated:
"We wanted to shoot the sequence like a Busby Berekely musical number with the camera being choreographed along with all the dancers. They don’t do musicals like that anymore. I didn’t want Harold and Kumar to get trapped on stage during a musical. I wanted them to get trapped IN A MUSICAL. So we’re hard cutting from location to location, the camera is dancing alongside with them like in 'Dames' or 'Gold Diggers of 1933.'
I wanted to have a clear game plan going in and how this shot would cut to that shot. How that take would last this seven seconds and cover this chunk of music, how Neil would wipe his cane left to right and the legs would spread open through the center. Piecing those concepts together was easier to do with a pre-viz than just storyboards since it's all about movement. We didn't have David-Fincher-fuck-you-money to throw around and spend weeks on computers pre-visualzing everything like 'Panic Room.' So it was me and a Mini DV camera in a dance studio and then I edited it all on my laptop in a coffee shop."
It's always great to get a look behind the scenes at a major studio film like this and see some of the simple methods that are still employed in order to end up at a final product as wild and outrageous as A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas. Everyone knows hard work goes into putting a feature film together, but it's almost mind-boggling to see such simplistic techniques employed in order to meticulously plan a spectacle like Neil Patrick Harris' showstopper musical from the film. Thanks to Todd Strauss-Schulson for sending this our way and giving us insight into his creative process.