‘Harvard Still Sucks,’ the film

After a Harvard friend sent him the “That’s Why I Chose Yale” parody video last year, Alex Goel ’14 knew he wanted to top it. And with the help of freshman filmmaker and fellow Berkeleyite Ryan Kline ’15 , Goel has set out to do just that.

With The Game less than a week away, “Harvard Still Sucks 2011” (which can be found at www.harvardstillsucks.com), does what all good rivalry movies do: it belittles and boasts simultaneously. And America’s oldest institution of higher learning is of course the comedic fodder of the film, as it portrays a high school prefrosh’s disastrous trip to “Visitas,” Harvard’s bastardized Bulldog Days.

Goel initially wrote the basic script for the parody video while working at a lab over the summer. But Goel knew that if he wanted to bring his idea to fruition, he’d need help.

“I’ve only done one or two parody videos before in high school,” said Goel in a recent interview with the News. “I figured I’d have to email Bulldog Productions [Yale’s only filmmaking group]. But then I spotted [Kline] on Facebook.”

It was clear from Kline’s profile that he was a serious student filmmaker — he’d directed several short videos in high school and is hoping to hit the film festival scene this spring with “Meat,” a short about a high school student’s relationship with a cannibalistic female peer. The two began exchanging Facebook messages shortly afterward and started preproduction of the video in September.

Before commencing on the actual film shoot in October, Goel and Kline reworked the script together, refining awkward jokes and adding a new ending. But as with most campus film projects, the production was not without its practical and logistical hassles.

“We had to shoot on mainly just weekends,” said Kline. “We also knew that we weren’t going to have a solid crew.”

The two thus turned to Margaret Zhang ’14 to act as producer.

Primarily charged with finding sponsors, Zhang was able to amass small donations from a unique group of local businesses, including Toad’s, Yorkside Pizza, Alpha Delta Pizza, Mamoun’s, the Yale College Council (YCC) and Bookzingo (an Internet startup for which Goel works). Though these contributions were admittedly insubstantial, Kline is appreciative nonetheless.

“It helped, especially since most of our budget was spent on buying Harvard shit.”

But the duo also faced mistrust from the Yale administration.

“[Yale] was really hesitant at first about letting us shoot a video,” said Goel. “We had to go over the script with the public relations department to get their approval. We worked really hard to make this video tasteful.”

Kline admits that appeasing the administration was extremely important, especially after the national backlash last year’s Harvard parody received for its ill-chosen reference to the recent murder of Annie Le.

“We parody Harvard, but we also poke fun at ourselves,” he said. “We want this to be a kind of spirit video, and we want Harvard fans to enjoy this, even though we know the hate comments on [the film] are going to be really bad.”

The filmmakers are quick to say that this will be due more to the video’s popularity rather than its actual quality, as evidenced by the positive feedback they’ve received thus far.

“We showed the video to the YCC Executive Board,” said Goel, “and they liked it a lot.”

Still, external praise does not amount to much for either student.

“[The film] was planned very well, and I know we did a great job,” said Kline.

Both Berkeleyites hope this bravado comes out through the video — after all, Yale has its biggest game of the season this Saturday, and we’re going to need all the self-assurance we can muster.

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