Tuesday, November 3, 2015

EVENTS | Shark Tale: When our office went under the sea for Halloween

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So much glee under the sea!

Oh, the Halloween blues... You know, fun times at the office and all. Where I work, annual Halloween celebrations are a blast--and last Friday was no exception.

While in past years departments were given free rein on their theme and choice of decor, this year our HR stepped in and, based on the results of a survey, assigned a movies theme for all. They tied it with iflix, a movies and TV streaming service with which Smart has a partnership.

You can check out http://smart.com.ph/pages/iflix for more information about the service, available subscription packages (like a measly Php99/month, anyone?), and more.

Reps from each floor drew lots to determine their designated movie. The choices were reportedly from iflix's top 200 movies. Personally I wasn't very happy about this--at least at first--because we already had grand plans for something else. It also didn't help that we got Shark Tale.

Shark Tale. When I broke the news to my colleagues I was met with bewildered expressions. Only a handful recognized the movie. It's understandable because Shark Tale isn't exactly a beloved animated feature. If it's any indication, the film received a stinking 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Ouch.

I didn't want us to join anymore was my initial childish reaction. But less than a week into Halloween, everyone in our department's Events committee felt like the occasion wouldn't be complete if we skipped the decorating contest. So after a quick town hall with the rest of the department, we gave it a go. We were, like, common, we were last year's winners with our Hogwarts-themed Halloween decor!

After all, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And join did we. Now here's a quick tour:

Underwater metropolis
Pretty much everything in Shark Tale happened underwater, so the challenge was to transform our boring office space into something with an undeniable underwater vibe. We also had to orient ourselves with the film to come up with the proper design and layout for our area.

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The door to our office. Quite a mess, actually, after all those visitors. We had to put that cardboard shark up the last minute because someone mistook us for Finding Nemo.

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This was the view right after entering the door.

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We hung blue cellophane everywhere to help set the mood, twirled crepe paper attached to the ceiling to resemble ripples from the ocean surface, and fashioned all sorts of corals, fish and other sea creatures with everything from newspaper, crepe paper, used soda and water bottles, and more. Took us a lot of time, to be honest.

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Just look at this school of fish made from plastic bottles and crepe paper. It's quite the effort already to make a single fish, but a school? Common!

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We also randomly hung more plastic bottle fish elsewhere. After all, we had an entire floor to fill.

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Also from a plastic bottle, I don't know what to make of this thing. With more than eight tentacles it's definitely no octopus. But whatever, it's cute, and there's more of this and other variations around.

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Our version of a sea turtle. Yup. we like 'em puffy and cute.

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Plastic bottle and plastic bag cutouts make a jellyfish. We sure took note of the 25% Resourcefulness criterion, didn't we?

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There are a lot of insane things about Shark Tale, one of which was how they made a coral colony resemble Times Square--replete with corny billboards. They called it Reef City. Let's just say we stuck to the theme and put up little signage amid corals made from painted-over newspaper and what-have-you.

The different stations and activities
More than just decking up the whole place, we also had to offer kids a few activities and gimmicks. Sorry but we don't just give away candies; we make the kids work for them first.

The whale wash
The movie soundtrack included the Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliot hit Car Wash. Well, in the movie, there's a whale wash where these ginormous mammals go to to get cleaned up. The whale wash was the first stop we had in store for kids. Using a meeting table and some chairs as frame, we made a whale with some garbage bags. Instead of making the kids literally wash the whale with water, we put some rubbish on it and asked the tots to remove them to clean the whale--along with some short environmental lessons--before they could get their first giveaway.

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A lonely starfish manning the whale wash. Her fish assistants must have went on a strike and left her.

Snorkeling/diving areas
We assigned two spaces for the same purpose of asking the kids to "swim" around and look for specific species before earning their treat. We thought with two similar stations, we can handle the kid traffic more efficiently. The "starfish" in one of these two areas soon began telling jokes on the side to keep the kids entertained.

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Hey kids, go find a photo of a puffer fish! We did manage to create an underwater vibe here, didn't we?

Photo wall
Of course there had to be a photo wall. We cut out three of the characters's faces so the kids could fit their own heads instead.

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Still don't recognize the movie?

Seahorse race
Yes, the Shark Tale creators made a bunch of seahorses race like horses on a racetrack. But because we really couldn't do that here, we improvised and came up with this:

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We taped a bunch of seahorse printouts on used paper cups and positioned them on a makeshift racetrack from scratch paper. And how exactly would these paper cups race? We made the kids blow them towards the finish line. To manage traffic and accommodate more kids at a time, we made two of these tracks.

Fishing pond
Though not in the movie, we thought that an activity where children would fish for their little loot bags would be cute. To fit--or rather, force--this idea into our whole theme, we thought of an atoll. Kids would first have to "surface from the ocean," proceed onto the atoll, and fish. Then they all go back underwater.

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After all the loot bags were gone, this toddler thought of "swimming" in the "pond."

The shipwreck
The shipwreck in the movie was that of the Titanic but we opted not to display any reference to the ill-fated liner, else we confuse people. Did I say Shark Tale isn't very well-known?

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We made a section of the ship's bow and cut a hole where people could enter. The wreck served as the sharks's lair in the film.

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Oh yes, we do have a chandelier down there. But what we've adorned our wreck with was quite tame compared to the movie's utter insanity.

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Broken steering wheel and a couple more props. We basically created this dark space to let kids in and then scare them. No treats here.

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We snuck in a little "Kalye's Angels" in the wreck. Harhar!

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As the octopus Luca from Shark Tale, I had my own little nook inside the shipwreck. Apart from providing some fancy light effects, the speakers are there to blast off some piano music because, well, I'm supposed to play the piano.

The biting shark
Another activity-driven installation, we put up a cardboard shark and some monster-like teeth that clamped down on hands attempting to get some candy. We placed it right before the hallway leading up to the exit. It was a hit with the kids although some parents took care of the candy-grabbing on behalf of their frightened children. Boo!

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Dare to put your hand in the shark's mouth for some candy?

The exit
And that was the last stop, after which is the hallway leading back to our office door.

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I'm just loving the effect here. But I'm biased.

Characters and costumes
Aside from all the props and decor, we also spent considerable time on making our costumes. Yes, we practically made everything. First off we had to assign the main characters, where each one should be distinct. Then we let everyone else pick a specie--fish, jellyfish, starfish, and shark--who would be sporting quasi-generic looks.

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Meet the sharks. Fashioned from a few sheets of scratch paper then painted over, the shark headpieces were the most practical alternative we had to full-body shark costumes. We also made shark fins out of used folders that each one tied around his shoulders. For a touch of individuality, the painters created different expressions for each shark head.

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But no matter how many fish in the sea, it just feels so empty without me. Everyone was given freedom to design her own fish head from cartolina.

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Merry Christmas from the starfish trio! Their costumes were among the last to be completed because they went through a series of modifications so they won't look like parol (a star-shaped Philippine Christmas lantern). The costumes were made from old boxes and newspaper.

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The fabulous gang of jellyfish. So we had three who did the umbrella route and three who used hats as base for their fun jellyfish costumes. Aren't they cute or what? And oh, they don't sting.

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These are supposedly the "main" characters (never mind that I'm just a sidekick in the movie). Left to right: Katie Current, the news reporter (one of the fish served as her camerawoman); the beautiful but ultimately villainous angelfish Lola; the hero's love interest Angie; main man Oscar, the underachieving bluestreak cleaner wrasse who misrepresented himself as a "sharkslayer;" and Oscar's puffer fish boss Sykes. And oh, that's me, the irritating and clumsy octopus Luca, in the front. We're missing the sharks and jellyfish here, though, who chose to join their respective species for photo ops.

Everything from the layout, the decor, props, and costumes was done in less than a week: 4 days to be exact. And despite our current workload, we are more than proud to say that we did it.

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Paint jobs under the sun? Are you kidding me? Shark costumes being painted and left to dry under the sun.

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Prototyping for the shark costume.

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We made boulders, rocks, and corals from newspaper with the help of some latex and spray paint.

Those days of hard work all boiled down to an exhibition that only lasted some 2-3 hours. Then it was all over. Having enjoyed everyone's cooperation in setting everything up, I'm equally proud to say that that team spirit was not lost when it came time to take everything down, as everyone lent a hand in restoring our office back to the way it was before Halloween.

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And just like that it was all...gone.

Meanwhile, I believe they were looking for Nemo at a certain floor in the building that day. Apparently he strayed into shark territory at the 10th.

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No, haven't seen Nemo since Halloween. Ask the sharks.

Next up: Christmas!

UPDATE: We won the contest! Two years in a row now!

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