Roli-Poli: A Preview

Merry Christmas, Folks!

A few months ago I wrote mysteriously and vaguely about the ongoings at Nariqala Fortress.  I wasn’t at liberty to talk about them at the time, but I think that you’re all finally ready to hear about Roli-Poli.

The unstoppable hip-hop dynamo!

Roli-Poli, as a concept, came to life in Kutaisi during Georgian lessons.  We learned that most Georgian names end with an “i,” so Paul would become Pauli.  Luckily my name already ends with an “i” sound, so mine stays the same.  Pauli and I became inseparable buddies, hence the age-old nickname, “Roli-Poli”.  Roli-Poli got fleshed out a bit during Halloween weekend when the girls were all decked in their windbreakery and looking glamorous.  The following morning both Pauli and I found ourselves wearing other people’s windbreakers.  Combined with silly hats, we knew we had to form a boy band.

A kick-ass boyband!

So one weekend, a very epic weekend, we decided to make our music video aspirations come true!  Months prior we had started writing a song together.  It’s called “Georgian Man” and it’s a reflection on the trials and tribulations, the vices and virtues, the beauty of being a man in Georgia.  It was time to put that vision to film.

Pauli was staying at a hostel with Maristen (Another personal fusion), Stephanie Bradley, and Ian while Joanne stayed with me in Mukhiani.  Our co-habitants helped us craft the perfect douchey facial hair.

Pauli was hesitant, but he came around.

Our plan?  Storm Nariqala Fortress and make the world’s awesomest Georgian music video.  It was fool-proof.  While Ian and Cristen went to take a nap, Joanne, Stephanie, Marissa, Pauli, and I hoofed it to Nariqala.  The girls were all dressed very nicely, but the hill was pretty steep.  We’d failed to warn them of that.  Sorry, ladies!

Stopping and waiting for our women to scale the cliffs. Please note the juice-box in Pauli's breast pocket.

I’m going to have to forego the nice scenery shots that I also took.  They include Tbilisi’s mosque, a church, several panoramas of Tbilisi, and a very pretty portrait of Marissa.  Maybe I’ll make a slideshow and include them as bonuses.  Who knows!  It’s all crazy up in here, what with the snow and being in Maine and all!

We made it to the fortress and started shooting.  Stephanie Bradley served as our camerawoman, cinematographer, producer, director, and later editor.  I seriously cannot praise her skills enough.  Pauli and I are mere actors/superstars.  What could we have done without Bradley at our side?

Taking a break to set up the next shot.

We started off at the fortress entrance, rapping and dancing with the best of them.  In this case, the best of them is an old beggar woman and two Asian tourists.  There are a lot of outtakes from that portion of the working day.  Quickly we moved inside and decided on several types of shots and locations we wanted.  Not all of them made it in to the final cut of the video, but that’s what multiple shots are about.

Stephanie did a great job assembling her cinematographic vision as we went. By the time we finished she had several surprises filmed for us!

Let me pause to point out that while we filmed ourselves rapping and hip-hop dancing all over walls and rocks and grass, the fortress was far from Tourist-free.  On the contrary.  In the video itself you can even see a tourist or two exploring in the background!  We got lots of strange looks that day, but I think most of the confusion on the tourists’ faces was there to mask their awe of the glory of Roli-Poli.

We now have a trademark "bounce" that Pauli and I perform in all the clubs of the world.

We had a notebook full of lyrics in our hand and used it to continually remind ourselves of our lines.  Joanne and Marissa stood by during shoots, ready to prompt us if we forgot a lyric.  They also got in a lot more sight-seeing than Pauli and I.  Overall it was a phenomenal afternoon for everyone.

"What are we doooin'?" "Ahh, my hat!"

We tried our best to match the lyrics with the scenes we were filming, but some of them were trickier than others.  We ended up at Nino’s house the next day to film pick-up shots and have a delicious breakfast with the Nino herself.  We got some great shots of a “taxi,” someone’s beautiful sister (pronounced “seester”), and a hip-hop graffiti.  After two days of shooting we had fantastic footage.  Stephanie took her camera home with the intention of working on editing it together, at which point we would write the music and re-record the words for more consistency.

Use of our surroundings was paramount to the success of the video.

Stephanie finished a rough cut of the video within a week.  It was awesome.  With a few minor tweaks, it was ready for a preliminary Thanksgiving debut.  Pauli and I requested that the Thanksgiving suphra at the school include a projector.  Ian and his director didn’t necessarily know what it was for, but Stephanie Bradley knew.  A short while in to the party, Pauli and I stepped out.  We had to retrieve our sunglasses and hats from Ian’s house.  While we were gone, PR Manager Stephanie Bradley set up the projector to her laptop, preparing the video for the world to see.

We returned to the party and peeked in to the party room.  Marissa saw me through the crack in the door and angrily demanded where I’d been.  I rudely shushed her so as to not spoil the surprise of Roli-Poli’s entrance.  I felt bad about that, but she got over it once she realized the importance of the element of surprise.

Maxi made an announcement to get everyone’s attention and as he said, “We have a special surprise prepared for you tonight…” Roli-Poli entered the room.  The audience got pumped.  We gave a rousing hip-hop speech and cued the video.

As it is as of yet incomplete, I cannot show you the video here.  What I can do, however, is show you the preview version called Roli-Poli: Daddy Cool.  Let’s see if I can get this sucker to work.  (I can, but only in about twenty minutes!)

We do have plans to complete the video, at which point it will be properly announced.  We also have plans for countless more music videos!  It’s going to be phenomenal, I tell you.  We’re on the road to becoming Georgian hip-hop sensations!  Get ready, world, because Roli-Poli is with you!  (Remember to check out the slideshow for bonus photos! [This is far and away my most media-heavy post ever!])

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