Bearded, singing dwarves invaded a Van Buren elementary school, and all the "Middle-Earth" excitement was captured on high-definition video.
Students from the Parkview Elementary Music Club and their instructor, Kevin Croxton, posted a music video they recently created for their cover version of "Misty Mountains Cold," a song featured in the 2012 "Lord of the Rings" prequel, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." The club, which is comprised of fourth- and fifth-grade music students at Parkview, wore fake, hand-made beards and clothing for the video, which can be seen at www.youtube.com.
"People can find it on YouTube easily by typing in ‘Hobbit Parkview’ or ‘Misty Mountains Parkview,’" said Croxton. "It’s also on Parkview Elementary School’s website, www.vbds.us/parkview, which is pretty exciting, too."
The video also can be seen at www.theonering.net, a website created by fans of "The Hobbit" creator, J.R.R. Tolkien. The site called the young cast members’ costumes "adorable."
"The Parkview Elementary Music Club is something that gets to do things like Christmas carolling, field trips and other activities that you normally don’t get to do in the music classroom," Croxton said. "I had this idea to do a music video. I had to raise the key a little bit for their voices, but it turned out really cute."
Croxton, who won a 2009 Emmy Award for scoring the music of the undersea short film, "The Secret Weapon," admitted he was surprised by the students’ creativity and dedication to the project. Some of the 35 students made their own beards from brown, white and gray fabric, while Parkview educators Kelley Robinson and Donna Helmer and intern Valerie Plummer helped other students with the beard-making process. When Croxton called "action!" on the set, several pupils waved wooden walking sticks.
"It was such a team effort, which makes it great," he said. "The students were troupers and did a great job."
The club’s inspiration seemed non-stop as members made artistic requests to Croxton and Wes Yandell, the video’s camera operator and a Van Buren School District media technician.
"I originally had the idea to have the kids sing the song once — it’s not a really long song in the movie," Croxton said. "But the kids asked if they could do an echo, which was like the lessons we were doing in music class. The video ended up containing a call-and-answer thing, and it turned out really, really well."
Garnering more than 3,400 "views" (as of Feb. 3) on YouTube, the video contains a few traditional camera angles, while other angles aimed to obtain a more unique, cinematic style, he said.
"We put a GoPro camera — it was a camera we borrowed from Brenda Yelvington, who is doing a documentary on the Northside High School band that I will do the score for later — on a rod and some really wild camera angles of the kids, which was fun," Croxton said.
For the video, a lot of the students wore feed sacks from the local farmers’ co-op as their clothes. Within a couple takes, the club members were "completely into" the project, Croxton said.
"The song originally was heard at the very beginning of ‘The Hobbit,’ with the head of the dwarves wanting to take his homeland back from the dragon," he said. "The song is about forgotten gold.
"But in the movie, they sing the song kind of softly," Croxton added. "We did the song bigger, with bagpipes and drums sounds. The students’ version is more outdoors-like, bigger."
In addition to receiving positive comments from his local peers, Croxton is hearing what some out-of-state school officials think of the video.
"I got a message from a music teacher in Missouri, and he said the National Association of Music Education just tweeted our video on Twitter," he said.
Croxton also received an email from officials with the Arkansas Music Education Association, asking if they could show Parkview Elementary Music Club’s video during the upcoming All State Music Conference.
"They want to show our music video as a model for what they are encouraging others to do," he said. "It’s amazing."
Croxton said the public reception to "Misty Mountains Cold" continues to exceed his expectations.
"I’m really proud of the kids and how they made this video," he said. "Everyone is so excited about the video, and everyone is asking how they can see it."
"Yeah, it was the first time we did a music video with the students, and I know everyone now will be asking what our next project will be," he said. "Honestly, I’m not quite sure what we’ll do next, but I do know that I’m very proud of these students. The video turned out great."