Brandon Heard has something big cooking.
Marist’s student body president took to Facebook on October 1st with a cryptic message:
“Six hour meeting with your IT team. Marist, we have something big coming your way. #GetPumped.”
Just over a week later on October 9th, Heard posted an equally mysterious though captivating video advertising “Marist’s next big thing:” bheard. Not much was revealed in the 35-second trailer; just that whatever this was, it was a “really really really really really revolutionary idea.” A tagline at the end of the video reads, “be connected, be foxy, be heard.”
As the video’s hit count reaches 3,500 and beyond, one question still lingers- what exactly is bheard?
“The bheard project,” Heard explained, “was created as a way to promote our goal in the Student Government Association, which is to create a more school-spirited and inclusive atmosphere that brings out diversity in our existing students.”
“I think this project is going to add a voice to our student body,” editor/videographer Amanda Sblendorio said. “Not the protected, generic one from Student Activities describes, this is something real from real people.”
Bheard, both an abbreviation of the SGA president’s name and an apt description of the project’s objective, aims to spark honest conversation and interaction in the Marist community. The project will consist of video testimonials from students around campus, on- and off-campus events and online forum discussions. Heard intimated at the potential development of an app to coincide with the project, though nothing was imminent. If developed, the app would be a blogging app that “promotes inclusivity in a geofenced location,” per Heard.
Mockups would be available for public perusal on launch day tomorrow.
NBCUniversal will be partnering with Marist SGA, endorsing and advising the project in various aspects. Heard interned with the company last spring and began developing the project’s framework towards the end of his tenure last May.
The process has been long and laborious. Heard explained that he spent “about four or five months” recruiting a team, finding advisors for the project and playing the networking game.
Upon arriving back on campus, Heard assembled a group to produce a teaser video for the project’s release. Wanting to model the promo after that of a Google or Apple product, the video releases very little about the project itself, but rather builds the mystique surrounding it.
“It was more about making people interested,” said Talia Acosta, one of the video’s editors. “Then on Monday the whole message and goal of the project will come together.”
The video features dramatically-lit faces of a dozen or so faces facing square to the camera. After a rapid lapse over the faces in black and white, one face turns to color.
In total, the video took two weeks to shoot and edit, with about 10 students working behind the scenes. Sblendorio and Acosta shouldered the majority of the editing responsibilities. Before long, it made the rounds on social media and garnered quite the buzz around campus.
“As a student, I think it might change the way Marist operates socially, or how students get their information,” said Sblendorio.
“It will make being a part of the Marist community much more convenient,” scriptwriter and public relations assistant Mike Pointz said.
Perhaps the most prominent recurring motif from the rhetoric of those involved with the project is celebrating diversity. Heard himself, when updating his Facebook profile picture to promote bheard, captioned his photo with the Stephen Covey quote, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” Prior to winning the presidency of the student body, Heard was the SGA Senate Chair of the Multicultural Relations Committee.
“We’re working towards a goal of giving voice to underrepresented students as the project moves on,” Acosta said.
Sblendorio believed the Black Student Union to be one of the clubs on campus to be prominently featured in the early stages of the project.
The project’s mission is ambitious, and its goals paint with a broad brush. But the Manhattan-born Heard is well-accomplished in charitable and philanthropic fields, and if nothing else, has his team buying in all the way. In explaining his aspirations for the project, Heard was eloquent but charismatic and passionate.
“We’re excited to be a part of it,” Pointz said. “We’ve been working really hard and want it to succeed.”
“We hope to have made a difference [by the end of the year],” Heard added.