NEW YORK — "We Are the World: 25 for Haiti" director [movieperson id="239826"]Paul Haggis[/movieperson] was responsible for putting together the visuals for the remake of the iconic musical hit. In the spirit of the original version's charitable effort for Africa, the new effort was created to help the survivors of Haiti's massive earthquake last month.
So, to make sure the new "We Are the World" video resonated with viewers, Haggis used Haitian film students as part of his crew.
Future filmmakers from the Ciné Institute in Jacmel, Haiti, helmed cameras of their own as they not only captured behind-the-scenes footage of the all-star cast, but provided the images from the wake of the earthquake that lit up the screens behind the musicians.
Haggis celebrated the premiere of the video with his eight-person staff of students. The mix of young men and women, who range in age from late teens to early 30s, shrieked and smiled as the world watched their work. "It's pretty cool [to watch it with them]. Their excitement is palpable," Haggis told MTV News from an editing suite in New York, where he finished the video just 12 hours earlier.
"To think a week ago [before we started filming] they were in Jacmel, where their homes and schools were destroyed," he continued. "They were literally homeless. And to come here and participate in this and do a really good job of pulling this off, we should feel proud that we made this happen in some small way."
Haggis was surrounded by the students, who have been working round-the-clock on producing the "making of" video and also a documentary on their school being given this opportunity to work with the Oscar-winning director. The student work has been helpful to Haggis but also to numerous media outlets who used their footage immediately following the 7.1-magnitude earthquake. Haggis watched the shortened made-for-TV version that aired during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
Afterward the director cued up the extended version, featuring Lil Wayne, Jamie Foxx doing a Ray Charles impersonation, and the full hip-hop bridge of the song. He joked that the credits that would follow were just as long as the seven-minute clip that he was going to preview.
But once the video ended, the Ciné Institute students whooped and hollered as their names scrolled across the screen. It was the first time they saw the official completed work.
"I remember the first time my stuff aired on network television, and it was very exciting," Haggis said. "Some of [the students] were behind the cameras, some of them were in front of the cameras there. I think they're pretty excited. It's good to see."
Haggis, who has been a supporter of the school since its inception, said he cherished the opportunity to work with the Haitian film students.
"It's good to give but better to cooperate," he said. "To cooperate with this group of artists, I feel blessed."