Deaf Campers Who Performed 'Happy' in Sign Language Get Ready for Their Next Big Hit: 'Deaf People Can Achieve Anything'
PEOPLE will have the first look at the camp's 2015 music video in August
This summer, the campers are keeping their highly anticipated music video project under wraps until it is released exclusively to PEOPLE on August 25.
Camp founder and director Stacy Lawrence expects the new video will surpass the almost 1.4 million hits that last year’s video garnered since its release, promising it to be “bigger and better.”
“I can’t give too much away, because we will reveal in August!” Lawrence, 44, tells PEOPLE. “But this year, we will have more campers signing in it, which is huge.”
Interpreters have been working feverously over the past 12 months to perfect the translation for the unreleased song.
Lawrence says it takes a lot of time to translate songs to American Sign Language (ASL) because each lyric must be examined for meaning, especially the ways in which children might interpret certain phrases. The process is long, but rewarding.
“The kids in ‘Happy’ shined. They were so comfortable and so happy, so at home,” she says. “I think that’s one of the reasons it went viral.”
Deaf Film Camp, a non-profit organization located in New York’s Adirondack region, opens its doors to campers ages 13 to 16 every summer for two weeks of filmmaking courses that focus on everything from set design to screenwriting.
On July 26, the camp will welcome over five dozen campers from all over the world.
“When I was growing up, I did not see one deaf filmmaker or a movie with deaf actors, but it’s very important for deaf children to see them,” says Lawrence. “It’s important to know that you aren’t alone in your dreams.”
Preparing to attend camp for the second time, Zahra Chauhan of Livermore, California, says she can’t wait to head to camp and work on her movie-making skills.
“It’s a lot of work to make a movie, you have to be able to work as a team and collaborate,” the 14-year-old tells PEOPLE. “This summer, I want to work on my cinematography and editing.”
In addition to producing and editing the “Happy” music video last year, Zahra also created a short film that featured a mummy who was lost in time and trying to get back to his pyramid. She and her collaborators built the set, wrote and directed the film and edited each scene.
Zahra says after the “Happy” video went viral, she felt as if she would be able to achieve her future goal of becoming a filmmaker.
“Deaf people can achieve anything,” she says. “Just because you’re deaf doesn’t mean you can’t [feel] music and make music videos or do anything you want.”
Check back with PEOPLE on August 25 to get the exclusive first look at the 2015 Deaf Camp ASL music video.