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Islander YouTube video wins tires

Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Islander Megan Hamp, 18, and her father, Tim, collaborated on a teen safe-driving video that is posted on YouTube. -
Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Islander Megan Hamp, 18, and her father, Tim, collaborated on a teen safe-driving video that is posted on YouTube.
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Megan Hamp and her dad love to make videos. In fact, the entire Hamp family does. Whether it’s for work, school projects, archiving memories or simply for laughs, the Island family lights up around the camera. And now, the whole world can watch one of their videos on YouTube.

Megan Hamp is a top 10 winner of the Bridgestone Safety Scholars Video Contest, a youth scholarship competition organized by the Bridgestone tire company. The Mercer Island High School graduate entered the competition hoping to win a $5,000 scholarship to Seattle Pacific University, where she will attend as a freshman this fall.

“I’d been looking for scholarships for a while, and then I found the Safety Scholars Video Contest on the Internet. My dad’s a video producer and I’ve made a lot of videos with my friends, so I thought it was a good idea,” Hamp said.

As part of its national campaign to promote safe driving, Bridgestone invited youth across the country to create and submit three-minute videos on driving safety. In August, a panel of Bridgestone judges chose the top 10 videos — based on their creativity and strength in message — and posted them on the Internet youth portals YouTube and Safetyscholars.com. The public was then asked to vote online for the best video. The top three winners received $5,000 in college scholarships.

Although Hamp didn’t win top three, her video, titled “The Safety Fairies,” beat hundreds of entries, and was ultimately chosen for the final 10. The three-minute clip is still posted on YouTube along with the other finalists.

Bridgestone representative Dan MacDonald, who was part of the judging panel, said that many of the winning videos — Hamp’s included — used humor to reach a teenage audience.

“Megan Hamp’s video was really humorous, and that appeals to teenagers,” said MacDonald. “Even though it was funny, she really got the message across.”

A comic parable with genuine driving-safety heart, Hamp’s video pokes fun at a ditzy teenage driver — played by Hamp — who unmindfully texts friends on her cell, speeds in a school-zone and nods off to sleep while driving. In each of these three scenarios, Hamp spins out of control and crashes the car. Cut. Hamp wakes up dazed on a RIP tombstone and two laughable Safety Fairies jump out to deliver the moral of each story.

“Fact: Speeding increases crash rates in teen driving. So when you’re speeding, you’ll soon be bleeding,” the fairies, played by Hamp’s brother, Spencer, and high school friend Janet Summerfelt, chime in unison.

The video is akin to a cheesy used-car commercial: The ridiculously-dressed Safety Fairies jump at the camera — arms waving, grins plastered to their faces — with a sing-song jingle of responsibility. You can’t help but laugh and the image — ludicrous jingle and all — sticks.

“Driving safety is our thing. Not everyone can go by wing,” the fairies rhyme.

Although Hamp wrote most of the dialogue, several parts were pure improv. Overall, Hamp said, the video was the creative product of all three cast members.

“We all talked about it and came up with the idea together. I wanted to make it humorous. I mean, it can’t be a boring driver’s ed video,” she said with a laugh. “And so we decided, ‘Lets have these safety fairies pop up and lecture when I’m dead.’ And it turned out hilarious.”

As for the camera work, Hamp gives all due credit to her father.

“My dad is really the master-mind behind our video,” she said. “He filmed it with his digital camera and also helped me with the editing. Really, we did it together.”

Tim Hamp, who has been involved with video production and editing for 25 years, currently runs his own media productions company called T.V.H. Productions.

Even in his spare time, Tim is often behind the camera filming home videos with the kids.

“[Making the safety video] was really a family affair,” the father of three said. “Our cousin, Leah Hamp, did the sound and I was able to help shoot and edit the film. It was just a lot of fun.”

Asked what he thought about the Bridgestone Safety Scholars Video Contest and the team-Hamp video being posted on YouTube, Tim was more than enthusiastic.

“The Internet has changed the ability for the independent producer — whether it’s a student or an adult — to publish to an audience. If you go back 20 years, the access to do this was limited. I think it’s a great thing because it liberates people to express who they are,” he said.

Even though Megan didn’t win the $5,000 scholarship, she didn’t walk away empty-handed: Every finalist receives a set of free Bridgestone tires.

But more importantly, her safety video will be seen by thousands of teenagers on YouTube.

“I think people forget that cars are actually a weapon. It’s a lot of responsibility to drive a car. You can kill yourself and you can kill other people if you’re not careful,” the MIHS graduate said. “Even if it is funny, this video still has a good message to it.”

To view Hamp’s video and the other nine finalists, go to: www.safetyscholars.com.

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