IUSB filmmaker behind viral proposal video

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Cody Clemons says he aims to stick with the trade


Staff Writer

Cody Clemons had no idea that filming a proposal video between a couple of friends would ever result in viral fame.

And yet, as the video’s views began to skyrocket earlier this month and the calls requesting interviews started coming in, Clemons knew without a doubt his video had indeed gone viral.

Among the first outlets to run the video were websites like The Huffington Post, AOL, Yahoo and CNN. Interviews with WSBT and WNDU soon followed, generating more local notoriety for the newly-engaged couple, Bethel students Mike King and Katie Barabas.

A snapshot of Yahoo's homepage featuring the viral video. Yahoo is frequented by millions of users each day. photo via/Cody Clemons
A snapshot of Yahoo’s homepage featuring the viral video. Yahoo is frequented by millions of users each day.
photo via/Cody Clemons

The video features King, disguised behind a lifelike mask and worn clothing, when he asks his girlfriend jokingly to marry him. Before she can answer, King takes off the mask, drops to one knee, pulls out a ring, and, to the elated surprise of his girlfriend, asks, “What about now?”

Though Clemons, the man behind the camera, has been filming weddings for a while now, he admits this is the first time he’s captured a proposal on film.

“I thought it would be a unique experience,” he said.

Clemons, a 22 year-old studying English and business, has attended IU South Bend since 2009. His passion for filmmaking has only increased since then.

“It all started right after high school,” Clemons explained. “The first movie I ever made was in Uganda, Africa. I was on a missions trip and we were doing some community work. One of my friends showed me the video feature on a digital camera and some free editing software on my computer. Using that, I put together a little video capturing a kids’ camp.”

That experience piqued Clemons’ interest not only for filmmaking, but also for using his talents to enact change.

“Since [Uganda], I’ve made maybe 150 movies,” he said. “But I’ve still focused all this time on people, on community. My projects are really focused on accomplishing some sort of social goal.”

Although he’s experimented with fictional narratives in the past, Clemons’ passion as of late has been for the real life characters and situations around him.

“This year I’ve really been focusing on documentaries,” he says.

Currently, he’s working on “West of Main,” a film that, according to him, is “built around the goal of raising pride for the west side [of South Bend]. How the associations and neighborhoods are really the foundations for communities.”

Perhaps it’s no surprise given his outlook that the idea behind “West of Main” is to use the DVD profits to establish benches throughout parks on the west side.

Clemons in action. “The video keeps me humble,” he said.
Photo via/Cody Clemons

“We want to not only raise pride, but to also accomplish something tangible,”

Clemons said.

While he mostly produces and edits on his own and therefore could easily be categorized as an independent filmmaker in the truest sense of the term, that doesn’t mean he won’t accept help when he can find it.

“Filmmaking is really about collaboration,” he admitted. “For bigger projects we look around for other filmmakers in the community. But I’m really trying to build a brand around my name.”

For Clemons, filmmaking hasn’t been much more than a passionate hobby for now, at least until he graduates next May. But he would eventually like to turn filmmaking into a full-time pursuit.

“This last year has been the first time I’ve been able to be a paid filmmaker,” he said. “It was maybe two years into my time at IUSB that I decided I wanted to make filmmaking my career.”

In fact, Clemons, a senior, has plans to move with his wife Katy to Los Angeles after graduation. He hopes to continue producing his own films in an environment that will provide him greater opportunities as a storyteller.

“Moving out there, my goal as a filmmaker is just to make movies. It really comes down to story,” he said.

But for the time being, perhaps you’ll spot him downtown, video camera in hand, continuing to capture snapshots and scenes of the community he loves.

Whatever his future holds for him, one thing’s for certain: Clemons won’t let his talents go to his head. After all, you’d think a globally viral video would lend itself pretty well to hefty bragging rights.

Instead, its success doesn’t really seem to faze him.

“The video keeps me humble,” he said.

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