Photos by Ankit Gupta
The summer after his freshman year, sophomore Nicholas Jiang decided to make a lip sync video, partly driven by his interest in film production and partly for fun. Jiang recruited his friends, sophomores Evan Yu, Charlie Yi, Elvis Lang and Revan Aponso, to join him in his new hobby.
And so began the creation of their boy band, Back from the Mainland.
Though Jiang was the one to initially drive the creation of Back from the Mainland, each member has their own unique role. According to Yu, each member brings something different to the table, uniting a variety of people and personalities.
“Nick’s the one that really pushes, like a leader — he’s pretty much the leader of the group,” Lang said. “Everybody likes Charlie, and if you see him in a video, you’re like, ‘Hey, it’s Charlie, I like the video now.’ I think I’m more like the nice guy. Evan, [he’s] more like the visual.”
As the director of the band’s videos, Aponso has similar commentary regarding the varying roles of each member. These roles came into play when the band shot their first lip sync video.
“There’s Nick — he unofficially directed it because he bossed around the other three,” Aponso said. “Then Charlie, I remember when I was shooting it, he was on the side. I was silently signaling, ‘Come to the front — what are you doing?’ Evan is just — he’s very passionate about the work. Elvis is kind of just in the middle. He’s just there.”
For the making of Back from the Mainland’s first music video, the band picked four different locations, shooting several clips of the members lip syncing in each setting. Jiang and Aponso were in charge of filming and creating the video, from the cinematic scenes to the editing.
“[I do] a lot of the camera work,” Jiang said. “I set up most of the shots, so we have two cameras rolling. We have one that’s just on a tripod I set up, then Revan doing his own thing, trying to be cinematic.”
It was up to Aponso, the group’s manager and editor, to stitch the video together. Aponso joined MVHS’ film club, Neutral Density, last year, so he combined what he learned from the club and his previous interest for film production to apply it to the editing process, managing the behind-the-scenes aspects of the band.
Even with his past experience, Aponso still found video editing difficult, as he had never edited a music video before. He encountered a few problems with layering the clips, having to start over at one point. Eventually, Aponso finished the video in about three hours, with the majority of the editing process happening late at night.
Once they put their video into the world, they received 2,500 views on YouTube, and Yu considered Back from the Mainland’s first music video a success. After it was uploaded, the group realized that their video was becoming more popular and being spread around on Facebook, with many of their classmates and relatives seeing the video.
Even some of the band members’ teachers had seen the video. Yu noted one experience in which he was in class, right before a presentation. His teacher, business teacher Carl Schmidt, mentioned that he had seen their video and commented on its comedic qualities.
As the video gained traction, however, there were also some negative reactions, with the video getting 14 likes and 16 dislikes on Youtube.
“We got more dislikes than likes, but I mean that’s them trolling, you know?” Yu said. “I’m pretty sure the dislikes are, you know, likes. They hate us ‘cause they ain’t us.”
Though Yu was unphased by the negative reactions, Lang had a different response, especially as he initially had his reservations about joining the group.
“This is extremely out of my comfort zone,” Lang said. “I tend to be kind of [a] conservative guy, but then I got dragged into this. This entire thing just put me out there.”
Though the group eventually decided to take their first music video down due to the negative reactions, they already have plans lined up for the next one. They’ve filmed all the footage for their second music video, but with the stresses of school, Aponso hasn’t had the time to finish editing it yet. Either way, Aponso notes that Back from the Mainland is just something that they have fun with. It’s a plus if they manage to entertain others.
“Right now it’s just four guys making stupid videos,” Aponso said. “And who knows where it will go from there?”