The signs of school bullying can manifest themselves in many ways. Maybe it's an unprovoked shove into a locker, or perhaps threatening messages posted to a social website.
In whatever form it takes, Seekonk singer/songwriter Eric Barao is attempting to get the anti-bullying message across in his new music video, "To All You Guys."
An only child, Barao moved into a neighborhood that didn't have a lot of kids to play with. Music become his outlet for expression, and he developed a penchant for songwriting early in junior high school. "Songs were my friends," he said.
"In grade school and through junior high, I was that easy-to-pick-on kid with the glasses and braces ... not a very popular guy," Barao said. The bullying that Barao endured was mostly verbal, though the video depicts bullying of a more physical nature and was spurred by stories told to him by friends. "I wanted the video to speak to as many kids as possbile and to help them get through this," Barao said.
A graduate of Seekonk High School and the Berkely College of Music, Barao produced the video in association with the Narragansett Prevention Partnership and it was filmed at Narragansett High School using student actors, many of whom are involved in the school's bullying prevention program.
"It was great getting the kids involved, but on the day of the shoot I found that we were lacking boys so I had to quickly recruit some additional actors from Seekonk and Pawtucket," he said.
"We needed a few guys with an athletic build to play the part of the bullies and those guys from Pawtucket saved my video!" Barao added.
The shoot day itself was long, lasting from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. "The kids did see the storyboard, but there were no rehearsals. Normally a music video is shot in about three or four days, but we didn't have the luxury of time," he said.
The first-time producer didn't realize the toll directing was going to take on him. "By the time I was on camera, I was a complete mess," Barao said. "With students throwing dodgeballs at me, it made lip-synching very difficult."
One notable scene in the video portrays bullying going on in the classroom with a teacher standing by doing nothing about it. "I didn't want the teacher to actively stop it, so that I could illustrate that everyone needs to get involved in order to put an end to bullying," Barao said. "Teachers, administrators and fellow students all have to take an active role in stopping bullying, because bullies feed on approval of their behavior through a lack of action on the part of others," he said.
Barao said he's received many positive comments about the video, with some people who've gone through bullying saying that it's a very realistic depiction. "I had a vision in my head about how the video should look, but wasn't sure I could execute it to the point where it would mean something to to other people," he said.
While this was Barao's first attempt producing a music video, he said there are many people to thank, most notably his father, Seekonk commercial photographer Stephen Barao, who brought in the lighting, booms and equipment to put this together. "I couldn't have done this without my dad," he said. "He's responsible for anything that looks good in the video."
"To All You Guys" will be included in Barao's upcoming solo album, which is due out in early 2012. For addtional information on Eric Barao, check his website.