Sometimes music and life intersect in ways beyond words. Filmmaker James Marcus Haney set out to do two things, make a music video for the British trio Bear's Den and capture the last days of his little brothers carefree college days with friends.
What he wound up with is tragic and poignant. Shortly after arriving in Seattle to film, a campus shooting occurred. Haney relayed his story to me via email. He's as good with words as he is with imagery. I'm going to let him tell the story.
"'Elysium' was one of those tracks that became very personal to me very quickly. It made me think about my younger brothers and their transition from kids to adulthood — how they are carving out their individuality and quickly leaving youth, innocence, and wide eyes behind. "Brother don't grow up.... /Just hope that age does not erase all that you've seen/Don't let bitterness become you/Your only hopes are within you." With the video, I wanted to capture elements of that transitional experience in my brother, Turner's, life. I wanted to film him and his real friends doing actual things that they normally do. I wanted to document the actions and emotions of people at this age — the highs, the lows, the noteworthy and the mundane. I wanted to get inside what it feels like to be a teenager today. On a personal level, I wanted to freeze the last remnants of youth still left in my brother — to record him in this tender, fleeting age of early college years.
"Soon after I arrived in Seattle to begin filming, an armed man walked onto Turner's college campus and shot four students. One of them died. I was staying on my brother's couch in his campus dorm room, living amongst sixty or so sophomore boys. The name of the slain student was not released, and no one knew when it would be. As hours passed by into night time, one student was still left unaccounted on my brother's floor, four rooms down from us. One of the dorm-mates decided to sleep in the hallway just outside the elevator to wait for the missing student, so that he would wake up when the missing student came home. Others followed suit until the entire dorm floor hallway was filled with mattresses and students unable to sleep, all waiting for the elevator door to open.
"When the victim's name was released the next day, the fears were confirmed. Turner's friend and dorm-mate, Paul Lee, was dead. With the music video as a last priority, I was thankful just to be with my brother — to support him, to be near him. In his dorm room, he played the song 'Elysium' over and over. A few of the other kids played it a lot too, and sent it around. While in the midst of a dormitory full of very broken and lost students, I couldn't stop listening to the song either — it took on a whole new weight and meaning.
"That weekend, my brother and his friends wanted to finish the video, in honor of Paul. The end result is a video that depicts real friends, real teenagers, experiencing something far too real."
The song "Elysium" will be on a new record from Bear's Den coming in the fall.