Love at Harvard

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Sanyee Yuan, junior, special concentration, Eliot

It was raining.

It was raining outside and I had no idea how I was going to lug what felt like ten tons of video equipment down five long blocks. Squinting through the glass doors of Eliot House, I shifted the heavy black tripod case from one hand onto my shoulder and moved the sturdy video camera bag into my other hand. The rain drizzled in a thick mist and the gray clouds overhead threatened a heavier shower any minute.

“You ready to go?”

My two block-mates appeared behind me, materializing magically. One held an umbrella ready over our heads and another took the video-camera bag from me. My roommate pushed the door open, lugging a brown box which contained a long paneled wooden screen over her head.

“You guys are awesome.”

Although I had gotten a mere four hours of sleep the night before, adrenaline pumped through my body and I could barely contain my excitement.

I had been named producer of the campus reality dating show, Love@Harvard, the spring of my freshman year, right before the senior producer had graduated and during my first few weeks of sophomore year, I had been living and breathing television production.

After becoming a full-fledged producer through the Harvard Undergraduate Television Network, the Vice-President of Show Development—a senior English concentrator who was working on a screenplay for his thesis—had run through the details of putting together schedules for my show. From coordinating the shoot location and accruing my cast members to reserving the school’s equipment to planning ahead for the extensive amount of post-production with editing and publicity efforts, I soon realized that producing a show on campus was no simple feat.

I had begun by scouting for crew members—seeking everyone and anyone who could lend a helping hand and show dedication to reviving The Dating Game on campus. Eager freshmen who were enthusiastic to give their (still-bountiful) time to an activity. Senior concentrators in the Visual & Environmental Studies department who had ample knowledge of the editing process with Final Cut Pro, a seemingly daunting program that I had only heard about and not yet laid hands on. I soon found out that the former was more open to joining my team, and one of the freshmen from the dorm for which I was a Peer Advising Fellow expressed great interest in being a part of the magic of creating Love@Harvard.

He became my right-hand supporter—taking on the roles of Director and On-set Photographer, as well as working on the publicity for the show through managing the Facebook and Twitter. We scheduled our first shoot, getting ready for the premiere episode, which would conveniently be themed “The Roommate Episode,” because it featured three bachelors who were roommates.

Two days before the shoot, I spent my entire morning and afternoon running across campus to gather our equipment. The cameras from one of the HUTV members’ rooms. The clip-on microphones from one of the other shows. The screen which would separate the bachelor and bachelorettes from the storage basement. The Christmas lights that we had decided would make for good decoration and soft lighting from my former freshman year roommate. The cassette tapes for filming, from another show’s recycle bin. And just as I had wrangled all of the equipment, the bachelorette canceled on me.

On such short notice, I called the Director in a confused daze, unsure whether to push the shoot back another week or to start the frenzied search for a replacement bachelorette. Disappointed, he said that he would go through his Contacts and see if he could find another willing girl. I agreed and started texting away through my Address book as well. That night, just as we were about to give up on the search, one of my friends’ Facebook statuses popped up on my computer screen. Complaining about the lack of a dating scene at Harvard, she bemoaned how she had gotten dressed up on a Friday night and had received no attention whatsoever. I instant-messaged her right away, and got an okay from her within only two seconds of convincing.

And two days later, I found myself happily lugging my equipment through the rain with my block-mates behind me, getting ready for my first Love@Harvard shoot. The whole process of setting up the shoot really encapsulates the Harvard experience of putting any production together: the willing help from numerous fellow students, the need for resilience and flexibility when plans go awry, the dedication from self-motivated staffers, and the incredible support from friends on campus.

At the end of the day, I realized that I had found love at Harvard. My love for television production on campus.

To see how the Love@Harvard shoot turned out, visit: http://hutvnetwork.com/shows/loveatharvard

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