EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 28, 2008

Catching the 'drama' of their senior year

HAVERHILL - Take four close friends, give them video cameras to carry around after school and on weekends, and what do you get? A series of online reality videos of their last year together before they head their separate ways.

A high school student's senior year is usually highlighted through photographs in a class yearbook. For Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School seniors Eric Gosselin and Benjamin Simmers, both of Haverhill, and Pentucket Regional High School seniors Eric McDonald and Jeremy Weiner, both of Groveland, it just wasn't enough.

"We're really close friends, and we wanted to film our last year together," Simmers said. "So far we've finished four episodes. We try to produce one a month, then post it on YouTube."

The soundtrack is often edgy, the language can be raucous and the production is a bit jittery, but the end result can be compelling to watch, and maybe even a little controversial.

Whenever they get together, and even when they're alone, they record whatever is happening, then post it online for the world to see. They call their project "The City Spotlight."

"It's like the "O.C." or "90210," only not scripted as much," said Gosselin. "After high school you can lose a lot of friends, and you might not remember what happened. We'll be able to look back on our senior year for the rest of our lives."

Their episodes range in length from 15 minutes to a half hour and are filled with everything from the mundane, such as a casual dinner together, to tense and unexpected moments such as fights with friends or girlfriends.

"We do have a waiver we give to those we are filming," Simmers said.

"If they say 'no,' we have to cut it out," Gosselin said. "We're just teenagers, and we can't afford a lawsuit."

Episode one, titled "Got Chocolate," features one of their cars coated in chocolate syrup as a prank that was pulled by one of their acquaintances.

Episode two, titled "Trick or Carol," finds three of them dressed in the holiday spirit and singing Christmas carols on Halloween night in Haverhill.

"I took no part in this," McDonald joked.

Episode three, titled "Out of Control Month," finds the four teens attending random parties, pizza nights and football nights.

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