CMA students and commercial music alumna unite to create “Banana Pop”

Aluma Ellery Sablan and crew discuss the filmmaking process behind the music video for “Banana Pop.”

Chris Charpentier, Staff Writer

Filming for “Banana Pop” began on Sept. 3, a unique collaboration between commercial music alumna Ellery Sablan and cinema and media arts students. The music video reflects the sentiments of Sablan’s single about heartbreak and the longing to experience happiness again.  

With help from her director, junior cinema media arts major Sam Brown, and her producer, junior cinema media arts major Julia Vartuli, Sablan took her vision for the song and translated it perfectly. All three offered a sneak peek into CMA and music collaboration, the highs and lows of production and the eventual creative bliss that ensued.


Although smaller CMA productions are usually covered by the amount of equipment the department allows their students to use, it soon became evident during pre-production that Sablan’s vision required more funding to fully realize. 

“We shot in a studio and all the props needed to be accounted for,” Brown said. “All that required a hefty amount of money.”

Vartuli added that their initial GoFundMe campaign was not making enough money. Eventually, they switched to Kickstarter despite their reservations about the site’s funding system.

Kickstarter only allows people to take out fundraiser money once the set goal is reached. The lack of initial funding meant the money could be wiped if their goal was not reached, according to Vartuli.

Although they did not reach their initial goal, a donor covered the rest two days into filming, putting them above their goal of $1,000. This allowed the crew to continue to film, while the rest of the project went smoothly. 


The song “Banana Pop” explores breakups through the metaphor of a banana ice cream popsicle. Sablan manages to make the heartbreaking topic sound lighthearted and earnest. That same thought process was then brought over to the music video as well.

“I wanted to bring viewers into an experience that goes through the different stages of grief, while still keeping it lighthearted and fun,” Sablan said. “In knowing that [Sam and I] are both creative people, our ideas were very complimentary.”

Because of the inherent collaboration that comes with the filmmaking process, each team member brought their own creative input to the video’s goal.

Sablan noted, “I had been working on some dance choreography for the studio scenes so we decided to try those out before moving onto what Sam had envisioned. But then we shot it and he preferred what I brought so that was one of those ‘Yes!’ moments for me.”

Brown adds to the collaboration by praising Sablan’s creative input. 

“Ellery had such a strong vision coming into this and brought so many different ideas to the point where I felt like I didn’t have to direct,” Brown said. “By doing that, I thought it was great because it’s what she wants and I’m loving everything she was giving me.”


The music video is projected to release sometime next week on YouTube. Although filming went smoothly and fundraising worked out, the process of making the film provided an educational experience for every person on set, especially Sablan.

“The music video gave me a lot of confidence as a creative artist to continue on this path and share my music and perspective with everybody,” Sablan said.

Vartuli reminisced on meaningful aspects of the project, though, not from filming directly. 

“My biggest takeaway was building relationships with people I’m working with,” Vartuli said. “It was amazing to see everyone come together as a community and have a common goal in mind.”

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