RMCC Gangnam Style: Behind the Scenes

Gangnam Style: Royal Military College of Canada


Article by 26549 OCdt (II) Kai Zhao

Whether it’s the catchy beat or the silly dance moves, Gangnam Style by South Korean pop singer Psy has swept through the top music charts of western countries.  The music video itself has been a source of parodies for many different groups including universities, workplaces and even the North Korean government. For us cadets, we were particularly interested in the parody videos produced by the American military academies starting with US Naval Academy (USNA) and soon joined by USAFA and later USMA.

I am 26549 OCdt (II) Kai Zhao and I was the director of the RMC parody of Gangnam Style.  When my buddies and I first saw the USNA video, we were really impressed by their production and we had joked on how hilarious it would be if we also made a parody and danced around in our Scarlets. However no one really thought seriously about the idea because to the best of our knowledge, no such thing has been attempted at RMC for a while, and there might be a lot of red tapes as we would be dancing in our uniforms. Moreover, with all the academic pressures and preparations (endless parade practices) for Reunion Weekend, no one had the time or energy to actually attempt such a feat.

Right after Reunion weekend on October 2nd, USAFA posted their parody on Youtube too. It was then that I decided there was no way that RMC was going to lag behind and we had to produce our own video. When I approached the Chain of Command for permission, it was met with enthusiasm and soon approved.  The C Division Cadet Division Leader helped me to draft up an admin order but I was in charge of the plan, the coordination and finally the execution of this plan.

The first thing I had to do was to send a call out to the wing for volunteers who also wanted to show off our College on the world stage. I was extremely pleased with the talented individuals who came forward. The production crew were all skilled individuals who each had something to offer towards producing the video, between script writing to video-editing; and the dance crew were all enthusiastic and eager to perform.  Together, they helped me to turn my vision in to reality; I couldn’t have done it without them.

The week after Thanksgiving was a busy one; everyone was stuffed full of turkey and whatever treats had waited for them at home. But when we came back, we gave ourselves a very strict timing of one week to finish filming all the footage required.   No one complained because we all wanted to get this video aired before the hype faded away.  The next several days were the busiest days I’ve had since entering the college.  Between preparing midterms and managing the minor hockey officials, I also had to coordinate with my production and dance crew to figure exactly how we were going to be ready for Saturday.  We had two practices scheduled and in between that, tonnes of emails being exchanged inquiring who else in the wing could and would like to make appearances in the production.

On filming day, although some of our plans did not work out, we did get a few spontaneous scenes along the way.  We had not planned for the Paladin’s solo on the point, but as we were shooting the pier scene, I had noticed the point behind me and I couldn’t help but try to have something on the point as the scene was just so dramatically laid out.   Another random add-in was 26229 OCdt (II) Richard Harding’s wedding which we had unintentionally crashed; they had spotted the Paladin as they were doing a photo shoot on the steps of Currie hall and wanted some pictures to include the school mascot.  I thought, why not have them dance too?  There are a few more unplanned surprises, but I won’t give them all away.  Decide for yourself which one you think is an add-in.

Members of the production crew:

26193 OCdt (III) Vanessa Banks (Manager) was my 2IC for the entire production. Not only did she spend countless hours coordinating with the dancers and people who wanted to appear in the video, she also danced in the video itself.  On filming day, she provided rides and used her car as a portable boom box for all of our outdoor scenes.

25804 NCdt (IV) Francis Holtken (Executive Producer)gave me his full support from day one, drafting up an admin order and giving me endless help in coordinating with the Chain of Command.

26140 OCdt (III) Hansen Tan (Screenwriter) was my official screen writer. Even though I knew what I wanted, it was he who actually took the time to come up with a working script that saw us through the chaos during the production week.

25664 OCdt (III) Francois Savard (Editor) handled all of the post-production by himself, stitching all of our footage together and syncing it to the music. Without him, you would be watching silly videos of a dancing Paladin and a lot of yelling from me instead.

26346 OCdt (II) Dan Ryan (Cinematographer) is an aspiring pilot, a skilled photographer, and best of all a really good friend. Initially he had doubts that he would have the time to help me film the production, but like a true gentleman cadet, he pulled through with his prior commitments and filmed us for the entire day. His brilliance behind the lens brought us fantastic footage to work with, and I am truly grateful for his help.

25596 OCdt (IV) Alida Stockermans (Choreographer / Dance Lead) currently holds the position of CWHDL (Cadet Wing Highland Dance Leader).  When we began casting for a female lead, she was my first choice and she agreed without hesitation.  She also handled the choreography for our talented dance crew, overseeing the two practices that we were able to squeeze in due to our tight schedule.  She wasn’t too happy to be in a dress on a chilly October morning but still gave a spectacular performance!

26318 OCdt (II) Stephen Kane (Paladin) was initially our back up Paladin, but stepped up to the call at the last minute.  I don’t know how he managed to put up with me on film day, but I know I owe him beers.  As he was the lead, he had to be there in every single take of every last scene we filmed, yet as the day dragged on his enthusiasm never faded.

25881 OCdt (IV) Anthony Matlock (Distributor) uploaded and manages the final product on the North Cadet Youtube channel, which is also home to the University with a Difference series. He also works on our internal publicity, such as here on e-Veritas.


  • John R. Graham

    October 22, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Bravo Zulu! It is a very enjoyable video. I live in Washington, DC, and my American friends agree that this is better than the U.S. academies’ parodies.

    I liked the wedding scene but had no idea it was a real wedding. I caught my breath when I read here that it was a real wedding of an OCdt. OCdts are allowed to marry?!?!!? Times have changed, haven’t they? Back in my day, it was still tough for Lts to get permission to marry!

  • Richard Sylvestre

    October 22, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Really well done! It’s great to see the cadets having fun with this and to hear that the staff were onside. I smiled start to finish – thanks!

  • 21294 Christine Salt

    October 22, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Well done to all! The link has been making the rounds on FB and even my non-military friends are sharing it!

  • 13846 Kevin Bryski, Class Secretary 1983

    October 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Absolutely excellent display of teamwork and pride by members of the current Cadet Wing. OCdt (II) Zhao and his team should be given full marks for their superb leadership in this project, which displayed outstanding initiative, coordination and creativity. Well done to all. Keep going. Your energy is infectious. Peter Mansbridge could take a few lessons from your talent to “bust a move” Gangnam Style.

  • Rem Westland

    October 22, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Excellent. My wife and my son joined me at the desk top when they heard the music. In my own laughter I also felt proud of you guys for the effort and the remarkable outcome.

  • Darren Rich

    October 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Absolutely fantastic! Glad to see you’re all getting good use of the Paladin costume we bought a few years ago. My NORAD-USNORTHCOM (N-NC) co-workers down here really enjoyed it. Keep up the great skylark work.

    D. Rich
    CJOC LNO to N-NC

  • 8684 Peter Holt

    October 23, 2012 at 10:22 am

    What a great way to show the world that life at RMC is not all drill and study – we know how to have fun! Kudos to all the production team, I know this was not easy to do. And I’m glad the C of C supported you 100%. A good sense of humour is essential in a military career – at least, it was in mine!

    BGen (ret) Peter Holt, OMM, CD, P. Eng
    Colonel Commandant
    Electrical & Mechanical Engineering (EME) Branch

  • 2908 Al Pickering

    October 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    An outstanding performance!! My heartiest congratulations to everyone who participated. Obviusly a great amount of planning, co-ordination and performing was required to pull it off. It is tremendous to see that kind of spirit still at our College. TDV!! 2908 Al Pickering, (DCadets, many years ago)

  • CWO

    October 23, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    An outstanding initiative that showcases the magnificent talents of the Royal Military College of Canada. Well done Cadets! You’re awesome!

    Michael Beaulieu
    Chief Warrant Officer | Adjudant-chef
    CFB Kingston | BFC Kingston
    Base Chief Warrant Officer | Adjudant-chef de la base
    National Defence | Défense national

  • Tracy

    October 24, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Bravo Zulu to everyone involved. I can’t express how great this was! My daughter is attending in her first year (Go Hunter Flight!) and to know that the students she spends her days with are smart, talented, motivated and creative is wonderful to see.

    Yay for RMC!I only wish I could have attended myself back in the day…

    Capt T Williams
    CO 2688 RCACC
    Bridgewater NS

  • E3161 Victoria Edwards

    October 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Congratulations. The video is circulating at NDHQ. I was impressed with the production quality and project management of this skylark.

  • 7447 Omar Van rooyen

    November 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Just checked Gangnam Style on Wikipedia and saw mention of other parodies but no mention of RMC. Can you update this?

  • "Cous" Cousineau

    January 29, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Ocdt II Zhao and your team should be recognized for an effort above and beyond. It has become part of my daily routine to watch this. It makes me smile and the world needs as many of those as it can get. My classmate Kevin Bryski, Class of 83 was also in my platoon at BOTC said it well … and for me it seems so long ago… In the this is getting to be small world I believe IV Stockermans may be related to Stoxx of class of ’82 vintage. If the premise is true the world is but blessed she looks like her Mom :) Sorry Stoxx some character defects will remain… If you are chatting with Chris Hadfield tell him I am looking at a picture he gave Lindsey that night at your place. What sticks with me is we didnt even have a space program. At night, when I look up in the skies, I am reminded…”Never give up on your dreams”…. Cous. Class of ’83