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The following is the behind-the-scenes story that explains the video embedded at the end of this post. You can choose to watch the video first if you like – Šteffi moved to New York and her Prague friends made a great video is all you need to know.

Jiří Maruščinec had a best friend at school called Šteffi. Someone who is connected with you through memories; first hangovers, experimentations with hair colors and pranks played on our teachers.

Three years ago, they were both going through some rough times and rather than bring them closer, it pushed them apart. Jiří explains: “We say in the Czech Republic “Když se to sere, tak se to sere” which means something like bad luck never comes alone, but as a series of bad luck.” Maybe a bit like our English ‘bad things come in threes’.

Two years ago when Šteffi left to work in Denver,USA, they didn´t even say goodbye to each other – after almost ten years of friendship.

This June, Šteffi returned to Prague for three months, soon to return to the USA – this time to New York City.

Jiří put on a suit, bought flowers and went to the airport, with a group of mutual friends, to welcome her back. The next three months they spent with all their old friends and had a great time together. All bad memories were forgiven and forgotten.

Soon it was time for Šteffi to leave and Jiří still didn’t have an idea for a suitable leaving gift. With only one week before her departure, he heard Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys and immediately told their friends that he would make a Prague-based video-cover of the song for Šteffi, in which they would all star.

But with only one week to complete the project, Jiří started to realize the obstacles that faced him:

  • He couldn’t play the guitar bought half a year ago. “Ok, let´s try it with those 10 chords I know.
  • He couldn’t sing. Well, he used to be member of one choir but that was 12 years ago. “And the truth is that I was advised to leave the choir when I started mutate from my angel voice to the one I have right now.
  • He needed to meet, plan and direct 14 people and still go to work each day.
  • His computer, where the video should be compiled, was full of viruses and seemed to freeze every ten minutes.

The day of filming arrived and the first location was the John Lennon wall: A usually quiet place where everyone leaves a peace and love message. With only one hour free they didn´t expect any problems until a group of 90 Asian tourists arrived taking pictures and videos of everything.

With the filming finally complete, Jiří spent three nights working to 3am to complete the video.

Jiří: You can´t count how many tears were cried by Šteffi and other sensitive friends when they saw the video. You can´t count how many times I was cursing myself for this idea, when I had my fingers totally sore from playing, or trying to play, the guitar or when my PC crashed again. I swore that I will never do any other video like that again. But we are going to visit Šteffi next spring and I have already started to work on another video. How quickly we forget about our troubles!

The original full-length HD version of the video with additional content (spoof television news in Czech and bloopers) can be seen here.