A TikTok-Inspired Holiday Video

Click here to watch the 2020 #WSU Holiday Video

One December tradition that COVID couldn’t wipe away was the higher education institutional holiday video. You know, the videos where your favorite university wishes you season’s greetings in a sentimental/funny/ creative way?

During my time at Coastal Carolina University I had the pleasure of being involved with the annual holiday video whether it entailed me being in it, conceptualizing it, or just promoting it. It was always a fun project so I appreciated the opportunity to assist with Washington State University’s 2020 video.

“Illumination” was the theme of the 2020 WSU Holiday Video.

Although a pandemic couldn’t halt university holiday videos, it did limit what could be done (say goodbye to large festive group shots!). But could new limitations perhaps open new avenues for creativity? At WSU, the answer was yes.

We debuted our 2020 holiday video via our President’s Twitter account. Creativity played a big role this year.

In a year that many across the world might consider “dark,” we wanted to show how WSU was able to offer some light. We settled on the theme of illumination and decided to express it in a way that our student audience could relate to.

Our holiday video was successful because it appealed to all audiences. However, it especially resonated with students because it actually used students and it utilized a format popular with GenZ.

This is a bold claim as I have not watched an overabundance of other university holiday videos yet, but I think we might be the only ones to produce ours based off a TikTok theme. That’s right, the WSU 2020 holiday video is definitely TikTok-inspired…we even shot it vertically. Drawing motivation from the infamous Pass the Brush Challenge and other TikTok videos that pass objects off screen to other participants, we decided to go with something similar.

We had numerous students who appreciated our TikTok-inspired theme and who filmed clips to be included in the holiday video.

The basis of our video showcases WSU students dropping a holiday light from one screen to the next. The students catch a non-illuminated light, react to it, and then—magic—it illuminates! The light is then dropped to the next participant.

The video centers around people catching a holiday light, illuminating it, and passing it on.

The video kicks off with our mascot, Butch, illuminating the first light. It culminates with our First Lady catching the final light and passing it to the President. He then screws it into a string of lights and with a snap from the First Lady, the string and the state of Washington illuminates. Throughout the video, a voiceover from the President recognizes that it has been a difficult year but credits the WSU community for creating its own brightness.

Butch kicked off this year’s holiday video.

Our social team had a seat at the brainstorming table when developing the illumination theme. Our primary responsibility was to recruit holiday video participants by promoting the opportunity on social media. In just an hour or so after posting the callout we were inundated with willing Cougs. We sent out Christmas lights to the people (mostly students) who expressed interest along with directions on how to film their portion of the video. Our volunteers didn’t disappoint. Within a week we had received more than enough material to hand over to our video team.

Our video professionals did an incredible job piecing the video together and adding the illumination effect to each Christmas light. A talented staff member who writes for our magazine penned the President’s voiceover that really hit home. One of our designers built the video into an email to send out to the WSU family. It was a true team effort by our University Marketing and Communications department and it paid off.

The video all comes together at the end when President Schulz screws in a missing light and Dr. Noel Schulz, our First Lady, illuminates the string with a snap of the fingers.

The video was a major success. It was received extremely well because of its uniqueness and natural flow. As of Monday night, it has been viewed more than 40,000 times on social media and I am yet to see one negative comment on any platform. During an extremely tough year, it feels good that this project has given people a reason to smile. Don’t Blink.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Kingsman: The Secret Service”

In honor of the Academy Awards tonight, I thought I would briefly review a couple movies I saw in the theater this weekend. Mind you, neither of these movies will be up for an award soon, let alone an Oscar, but since both are bringing in the cash at the box office I thought I would give my two cents. By the way, if you do want some throwback Oscar literature from yours truly, click here.

This weekend I enjoyed two movies that were both released to quite a bit of fanfare. Last night I watched “Fifty Shades of Grey” and then this morning I saw “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” Let me tell you what I thought.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” – Yesterday evening, Sidney and I went to see the movie that garnered gasps from women when the secretive teasers were shown in theaters months before the release date. I swear these same women came back for our showing yesterday. Besides them, many couples around the ages of Sidney and I also took up room in the theater. But even with these two groups, the auditorium was only about 75% full, making it very puzzling why an older gentlemen climbed all the way to the top row where Sidney and I sat and decided to sit down in the unoccupied seat right next to me. Hmmm…Fifty Shades of Weird.

My ticket for "Fifty Shades of Grey."

My ticket for “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

For everything I have heard about the “Fifty Shades” franchise over the past couple of years, I was preparing myself to see something completely graphic, taboo, crazy, and sinister. When the movie concluded, I was honestly asking myself what the big deal was. I really didn’t find the film that offensive or shell-shocking.

I was pleasantly surprised that the film took place in my home state of Washington. I did not know this detail prior to last night. I enjoyed the shots of Seattle and I took pleasure in seeing the great promotion of Washington State University, the college I grew up cheering for and where I thought I would one day attend. The institution is where the lead female character, Ana, went to school.

As for the movie itself, I thought it was well-done. I think it had a very interesting plot, one in which the dilemma of Ana is very captivating. I loved the acting job of Jamie Dornan, the man who played the title character of Christian Grey. He did such a superb job of making himself a man of intrigue, someone who might really qualify as “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” He played his role so smoothly and did a convincing job of portraying the secret life his character must live. The ending absolutely sucked but I guess that is what is expected when a sequel is to follow. Even though the movie ended with me on the ropes, “Fifty Shades of Grey” exceeded my expectations.

“Kingsman: The Secret Service” – The plot for this movie is much too complex to explain so I won’t try to do so. However, I hope that by describing what the movie is like you might have a better idea on whether you want to see it or not.

My ticket for "Kingsman: The Secret Service."

My ticket for “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”

“Kingsman” is a mix between a thriller/spy/comedy film. Although the movie is very humorous and on the lighter side, you must be tuned in from the beginning to the end to understand everything that is going on. Although Samuel L. Jackson stars in the movie, it is very much a British film. Because of this, at times it is hard to catch everything that is said because of the English accents.

It is a very clever movie with lots of twists, killing, and crazy ideas. Dialogue is quick and witty. There is actually a moral dilemma that is at the center of the film but it is purposefully overshadowed by the action and humor. For me the movie lasted a little too long and I became really annoyed with a few of the characters who reappear throughout the whole feature. With that said, if you like comic books and enjoy spies, you will most likely enjoy “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” I was entertained, but like I said above, this movie will not be taking home an Oscar.


Enjoy the Academy Awards! I will be turning back and forth throughout the evening. As I said on Thursday, my fingers are crossed for “American Sniper” to take home Best Picture. Don’t Blink.