I saw Michael perform "Pass On" in June of 2011 at a film screening of all places. I've never really considered myself a poetry fan, but this particular piece grabbed me instantly. As I said to Michael the first time I met him, this poem needs to be heard by everyone. I hope you agree.
Poetry/Performance - Michael Lee
Director - Josh Thacker
Producer - Aaron Richey
Director of Photography - Ryan Taylor
AC - Alex Horner/Jonny Zeller
Gaffer - Chris Hultgren
Grip - Bob Nelson
Dolly Grip - Brian Suerth
Sound - Patrick Schaefer
Makeup - Kristen Leigh
Craft Service - Sarah Storbakken
PA - Josh Mruz
Editor - Josh Thacker
Composer - Daron Walker
Colorist - Oscar Oboza
Smoke/Finishing - Matt Collings
B-Ballers - Charles Johnson, Parris Curren, Aaron Richey, Troy Pollard
Camera graciously provided by Cinemechanics
Special Thanks - Cinequipt, Nick Christopulos, Tony Fischer, Michael Irei, Mitch Thompson, Towle Neu, Steve Schmidt, Bryan Shelley, Dorene Silver, Brian Slater, Abby Stavig, The Suerths, Scott Wenner
When searching for the lost remember 8 things.
We are vessels.
We are rooms.
We are so much less important than the things inside of us.
We are circuit boards
swallowing the electricity of life upon birth.
It wheels through us creating every moment,
the pulse of a story, the soft hums of labor and love.
In our last moment it will come rushing
from our chests and be given back to the wind.
When we die. We go everywhere.
Newton said energy is neither created nor destroyed.
In the halls of my middle school I can still hear
my friend Stephen singing his favorite song.
In the gymnasium I can still hear
the way he dribbled that basketball like it was a mallet
and the earth was a xylophone.
With an ear to the Atlantic I can hear
the Titanic's band playing her to sleep,
Music. Wind. Music. Wind.
If you listen to the wind and don't hear a thousand years of music, you're not listening hard enough.
The day my grandfather passed away there was the strongest wind,
I could feel his gentle hands blowing away from me.
I knew then they were off to find someone
who needed them more than I did.
On average 1.8 people on earth die every second.
There is always a gust of wind somewhere.
The day Stephen was murdered
everything that made us love him rushed from his knife wounds
as though his chest were an auditorium
his life an audience leaving single file.
Every ounce of him has been
wrapping around this world in a windstorm
I have been looking for him for 9 years.
Our bodies are nothing more than hosts to a collection of brilliant things.
When someone dies I do not weep over polaroids or belongings,
I begin to look for the lightning that has left them,
I feel out the strongest breeze and take off running.
After 9 years I found Stephen.
I passed a basketball court in Boston
the point guard dribbled like he had a stadium roaring in his palms
Wilt Chamberlain pumping in his feet,
his hands flashing like x-rays,
a cross-over, a wrap-around
rewinding, turn-tables cracking open,
camera-men turn flash bulbs to fireworks.
Seven games and he never missed a shot,
his hands were luminous.
I asked him how long he'd been playing,
he said nine 9 years
The theory of six degrees of separation
was never meant to show how many people we can find,
it was a set of directions for how to find the people we have lost.
I found your voice Stephen,
found it in a young boy in Michigan who was always singing,
his lungs flapping like sails
I found your smile in Australia,
a young girls teeth shining like the opera house in your neck,
I saw your one true love come to life on the asphalt of Boston.
We are not created or destroyed,
we are constantly transferred, shifted and renewed.
Everything we are is given to us.
Death does not come when a body is too exhausted to live
Death comes, because the brilliance inside us can only be contained for so long.
We do not die. We pass on, pass on the lightning burning through our throats.
when you leave me I will not cry for you
I will run into the strongest wind I can find
and welcome you home.
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One room, two performers, light and shadow. The room is a model based on the painting "Sun in an empty room" by Edward Hopper. The natural light is captured by time-lapse recording.
The video is Dust particles in front of a concentrated beam of light. To capture is I set up my camera in front of a Kinoton 35mm cinema projector. I tested various films to give colour to the particles but in the end it worked best with no film and just the open beam of light. I used the Cinema scope lens on the projector as it naturally stretches the lights and so gives more depth of dust particles from a side on angle.
For the sound I also used the Kinoton projector. I recorded the projector running from various angles and focused on different moving parts of the projector. I then used these sound to try and create a swarm like sound.
I used logic pro to pitch shift and automate plugins on the sounds. I spent a lot of time trying to create a feeling of air in the sound. I like how all the dust looks like miniature stars and so I wanted to try and create a larger than life feeling.
The sounds are underplayed with synthetic sounds that I modeled inside Logic to provide a richer texture.
This is a stereo mix. But I have also done a 5.1 surround sound mix that I created into a Digital Cinema Package. I played this back in a few different sized cinema screens and it was awesome to see and hear. The "Larger than life" feeling really came into life here and it felt like I was in a crazy solar system.
MAKING THE DUST MOVE
To introduce more dust into the air I just really jumped around for a while to disturb any lying dust. :) For the bigger particles I ripped blue roll above the light and then they slowly fall into the beam.
To move and control the dust particles I tried a few different techniques. For drastic, concentrated moves I simply blew air into the cloud of dust.
To created flows then my moving something a few meters away from the dust it creates air turbulence and so pulls or pushed all the dust.
To move all the particles quickly in any direction a few centimeters I placed my hands above and below the light and this gives you reall nice control over a block of air. This meant I could move the particles into the concentrated light where they glow more brightly.
Then finally to create the storm like affect, I opened the porthole into the cinema. The difference in temperatures between the two rooms means they are at different air pressure and so when the widow is opened the air is pushed into the room of lower pressure.
Thanks for watching, and listening, and reading.
Filmed on a Panasonic DMC-FS37