Negative Tide | A Year of Transition

The moon approaches, the waves recede. Barnacles and sea urchins gasp for air underneath the cold December sun. A lonesome gull, anxious to explore, is caught in a gust of wind. Stuck in one place, looking down in desperation. As the chilling air pulls and tugs, straining the eyes, a single feather loosens and falls to the ground below. The beaches span across time, a barren landscape stretched before an endless horizon. A rare moment in time, ominous, unsettling; yet a beautiful opportunity awaits. Will you step out into the unknown, explore the truths which have been unburied in that brief moment in time? Or stand and watch the ocean succeed, swallowing you whole like a helpless minnow amongst an entrapment of thick baleen?

The negative tide.

Throughout 2014, I found myself surrounded, entranced by oceanic metaphors. The redeye ferry splitting the sound at dawn, the seclusion and beauty of islands, the high tide splashing against my fingers as I search for the perfect stone. Skip, skip, skip, splash. Such was my life this past year. Just like the ever changing tides, I pushed and pulled in sync with the magnetic lunar force. Repetitive, predictable, helpless. Trapped in a never ending cycle that was bound to be broken, I took a leap of terrifying faith. On December 26th, one week before the new year, the day after Yuletide blessings, I made the decision to walk away from my marriage.

There I stood, approximately 1:30 in the morning, alone in the bitter cold with nothing but a thin hooded sweatshirt and a half empty pack of American Spirits. My mind was spinning, the sting of fresh tears freezing to my cheeks, my heart was pounding out of my chest and I struggled to find a full breath. My son was fast asleep, dreaming of his new bike that not seven hours ago I had taught him how to ride. He pushed his young legs back and forth, looking to me for admiration and encouragement. Little did he know he would awake the next day without the usual morning greetings from both of his parents. I called my three closest friends without answer and began to panic. I didn’t have my keys and my front door was locked. The streetlight flickered above me and I could cut my frosted breath with a knife. At that moment I could’ve begged for forgiveness, pounded on the door with my white flag waiving. I could’ve accepted the delayed invitation to sleep on the couch, but I knew what I had to do. I had to venture into the empty streets. I had to break the cycle. The negative tide had presented itself.

After wandering a few blocks, my tears dried as an old friend responded to my cry for help, who luckily lived a few blocks away. I was welcomed with a bedded couch and a half asleep greeting, “No need to explain, get some rest, I’m here for you.” My head hit the cold, wilted pillow and my exasperated mind put itself to sleep. I awoke the next morning with a pounding headache and a broken heart. Like a relapsing addict, feelings of regret and guilt overwhelmed my trembling body. I felt sick to my stomach, but I allowed my mind to escape to a brighter place. I awoke from a dream, standing in the midst of the negative tide. The barnacles tore at my bare feet, ripping open tiny wounds as I approached the sea. As I gritted my teeth and pushed through the pain, I stumbled across a single feather, looked into the sky above me and placed it behind my ear.

This is where I need to be. The storm will pass, spring will come.

Exhale.

 

 

 

 

 

Write: Doe Bay | Through my lens

Fore those of you who don’t know what Write: Doe Bay is about, I’ll give you a small glimpse into the incredible atmosphere and community that encompasses this workshop.

One month ago, I went to Doe Bay for the first time and it really changed something inside of me. I went there as a filmmaker to document the weekend and walked away wanting to write a book. In this world of iPhones, eBooks and instantaneous digital conversation, we sometimes forget the power and beauty of written word.

I came back for the first Alumni weekend, where writers from last year reunited and shared new words and reconnected in a new light. I again felt like an outsider, and intruder, but that didn’t last long. I was quickly accepted with open arms and was able to capture some intimate moments.

Moments of joy. Moments of solitude. Moments of grief. And most importantly, moments of raw human connection.

Through my lens:

(Click on an individual image to begin slideshow)

Write: Doe Bay

I’m back.

Back to early mornings of cartoons and the anticipation of the kitchen timer telling me that my french press is ready. I swear that 4 minutes feels like a lifetime, but that first daily dose of caffeine must be crafted with perfection.

Ah, the mundane things that let my patience shine through.

It was exactly 2 weeks ago that I was rushing to catch the early commuter ferry from Orcas Island to the mainland; still dawning the same pair of sweats I fell asleep in, suffering from an emotional and physical hangover. I never smoke in my car, but on that brisk morning I felt the urge to light up before reaching the ferry terminal. Like a drug addict getting their final fix before heading into detox, I inhaled that American Spirit like it was my last. Suddenly a sensation of extreme nausea and hunger swept over me. Maybe it was the lack of sleep and taste of beer on my tongue, or maybe it was the thought of leaving behind so many memories and venturing back into the unknown.

I arrived earlier than expected to the ferry terminal after following that damn log truck through the winding curves of the island. In hindsight, being stuck behind that slow moving truck was a blessing, as I was gifted a few extra moments to soak in the early morning beauty of Orcas. The fog dissipating from serene ponds, the sun splashing life onto vast open fields, and the smell of morning due scratching at my nose; it was meant to be. Like a wolf in disguise amongst a heard of sheep, I inched my way onto the ferry surrounded by the usual morning commuters. They were entertaining each other with typical island small talk, or at least thats what I was making up in my head as I put in my earbuds and walked up to the main ferry cabin. I sought out an empty bench away from the crowds of longshoremen and talkative familiars and fell asleep to the white noise of the vessel partnered with the sounds of Conor Oberst:

“The picture is far too big to look at kid. Your eyes won’t open wide enough
and you’re constantly surrounded by that swirling stream of what is and what was.
Well, we’ve all made our predictions but the truth still isn’t out.
But if you wanna see the future, go stare into a cloud.
And keep trying to find your way out of that maze of memories.
It all sort of looks familiar, until you get up close and it’s different. clearly.
But each time you turn a corner, you’re, you’re right back where you were
and your only hope is that forgetting might make a door appear.
Well is it your fear of being buried that makes you so afraid to speak?
An avalanche of opinions like the one that feel that I am now underneath.
It was my voice that moved the first rock and I would do it all again.”

If I learned one thing from that weekend it was that honesty, sometimes brutal and painstaking, can open up confined and broken hearts such as mine.

This is me being honest: I fell in love at Write Doe Bay.

I fell in love with the art of storytelling. I fell in love with all of the brave souls that reached within and pulled out their inner demons. I fell in love with nature all over again and most importantly, I fell in love with my own voice. A voice that had been buried deep underneath layers and layers of emotional insulation. I sat there in that open room in the retreat house, where I once found to be awkward and unsettling, and listened. I listened to stories of betrayal, suicide attempts and the loss of close kin. The quivering lips of the people behind those words began to form a small fire inside of my chest. The match was lit, the wick was burning faster than I expected and all it took was a pen and a piece of paper to ignite an explosion of love and gut wrenching honesty. I walked down to the beach of Otter Cove to seek out a place of solitude in order to let this monster out of me. I found the last sliver of sunshine perfectly creating a seat on a fallen log and as my pen hit the paper, my heart tried to crawl out through my eyeballs. For the first time in over a decade I allowed a stream of tears to hit my cheek. Not like the trickle of a raindrop on a windshield or the drip from a faucet that you thought had been shut off, but a streaming gush of water from the cracks of a collapsing dam. A dam that had been slowly cracking under years of internal pressure and self doubt. I broke.

For the first conscious time in my life, I became vulnerable.

After reading those three pages over and over again to myself, I was prepared to share at that nights literary circle. I refilled my adult sippy cup with whiskey, walked downstairs to a room full of joyful conversation and laughter about the days activities. With sweaty palms and an uncomfortably high heart rate, I waited for the right moment to chime in. After Claire shared her eloquent words of self discovery, I jumped. Wait, what…? I was about to tell my story following a successful, nationally published author? Fuck. If I’ve ever learned anything about vulnerability, it was at that pivotal moment in time. Amongst the sounds of people shuffling in their seats and sneaking in quick conversation, I thought to myself, “These people have no idea what I’m about to say, they don’t know me; for all they know I could be prepping a story about how I first learned to bake the perfect oatmeal cookie.” Something mundane and meaningless from the quiet guy who was supposed to be filming and not talking. In that moment I felt powerful, and it felt fucking great. Between gasps for air buried beneath strangled sobs, I controlled my trembling hands enough to read my story aloud for the first time. I was 23 years old, suffering from the expected anxieties of  becoming a first time parent with my girlfriend of 1 year, when a surgeon performing a routine surgery stole that experience away from me. Like an evil magician using slight of hand, that doctor took the life of my first child and stole a piece of my soul that will never be replaced. I could probably write a novel on the experiences that followed; the feelings of grief, anger and confusion, but what was important in that moment was to peel back the bandaid just enough to let my voice be heard. Like a caterpillar emerging from a cocoon for the first time, I needed that heavy thought to transform into something other than an angst ridden whimper.

HOLY SHIT.

I grew up attending church camps and retreats every summer. During evening worship gatherings, the youth pastor would end in a final prayer and ask those inflicted with internal demons or those who hadn’t found God to come to the front. As I peeked through my hands during prayer, I remember watching some of my closest friends, who I’d thought were only at camp for the social aspect, strip away any fear and become accepting to the saving grace promised by the pastors inviting words of forgiveness. I never understood or connected with that, and almost felt embarrassed for those kids… until now. Religion aside, I now know what it feels like to cast aside any fear of public scrutiny or self consciousness and allow those boulders to fall from your back. I wasn’t searching for any type of salvation as I headed out to Doe Bay, but I definitely found it. That salvation didn’t come from any God or scripture, but it came from all of the fearless stories that empowered me to let my own voice unfold.

The outpouring of support and connection that followed my stories is what really mattered to me that weekend. If I hadn’t spoken, would I have honestly connected with so many of the incredible attendees? I don’t think so. Without those intimate connections, I wouldn’t be writing this nor would I be pursuing new creative endeavors that were sparked by the relationships that were formed. To all who were in attendance that are reading this, you all are fucking beautiful.

MichWeb - WDB (70)-X3

 

I came back from Write Doe Bay feeling like a quarter-life crisis was looming. I couldn’t complete work that was well overdue, I couldn’t write, and I couldn’t connect with anyone outside of the Write community. For a week straight, all I wanted to do was listen to music in solitude until until dawn, and sleep throughout the day. I felt further disconnected from my wife and usual group of friends, and ordinary conversations pertaining to weather and sports scores became a waste of my damn time. I became frustrated with the people who weren’t in attendance at Doe Bay. People that have never seen my tears, people who have never truly heard my voice and witness my vulnerability shine through. One thing I have realized over the past weeks upon reentry, is that I should trust my gut. Like crab grass in an open field, I need to step over the weeds in my life and chase the flowers that reach out above the ugly distractions. People in my everyday life need to hear my song of redemption and awakening. My voice deserves to be heard instead of constantly seeking the forced approval of those who don’t reciprocate those actions.

 

I have value. I am beautiful. I deserve to be heard.

 

 

Top 11 Most Inspirational Music Videos

Quite often, I have people ask what inspires my creative vision and style. Whether it be a wedding film, short art piece, or music video, these are the 11 most inspirational videos that have deeply affected my creativity. It just so happens that they’re all music videos, which makes me realize something:

Music drives my everyday life; creatively, mentally and sometimes even spiritually. Theres something about good music that awakens my soul, and paired with strong visuals, it can form something magical.

 

Here they are, in no particular order. You may even catch some parts that directly inspired some of my work. Steal like an artist, am I right?

 

(DISCLOSURE: There may or may not be a few nipples and bums in a couple of these videos, just a heads up in case you are reading this in front of your entire class or office space on a large screen.)

 

This video is my most recent discovery. The visuals, the storytelling, the badass hero with the playing card placed ever so carefully in his bicycle spokes. So many feels. I want my son to be this kid when he grows up.

This is more of a short film than a music video, but I absolutely love it. I love the cinematography and the contrast between the night and day scenes. I’m also a huge fan of drawn out, dramatic intros, and this one really builds up the rest of the video up nicely. Did I mention the gigantic tire swing? I want one for Christmas.

I’ve always been a huge fan of The Naked and Famous. This video is wild. I love how they paint this abstract, dark picture and let the viewers imagination tell the story.

I have no words for this video. It blows my mind every time I watch it.

The art of simplicity is clearly stated in this video. The flat color pallet, the basic framing and emotionless faces of the actors all blend together with the crazy talented editing that was put into this. (Plus, I love to dance to this song early in the morning in my underwear, sshhhh)

This director/editor clearly has too much time on his hands. His name is Jonathan Desbiens (aka Jodeb) and he continuously boggles my mind with the amount of detail that is put into his VFX and motion graphics. I highly suggest you check out his other work as well.

This song makes me super happy. The layered synths and catchy beat laced with uber sexy 90’s basslines make my heart dance. To top that, throw in some hip brothers from the UK who are aren’t even 21 and watch them work their machines like champs. Oh, and the background visuals, yes sir, may I have another?

If I could post every single one of 30 Seconds to Mars videos I would. They’re all directed by Bartholomew Cubbins (aka Jared Leto), who happens to be one of my all time favorite actors as well. This video single handedly convinced me to join the video DSLR revolution. It was captured almost entirely on the Canon 7D, which is what I ran out and purchased, thus transforming my entire creative career.

This video flipped my world upside down. Yes, I know I don’t seem like the type of guy who’s into Rhianna, but the raw emotion displayed in this video changed my way of thinking. Authenticity is something every director strives to portray, and this one hit the nail on the head in my opinion. The cinematography alone inspired a lot of what I do today and how I look at creating a scene.

This crazy video, captured entirely in a POV perspective, gets me excited. No, not because of the strippers, but because of how challenging it is to do a “one take” style video. 99% pre-production, 1% shooting/editing, and 100% awesome. Blood! Boobs! Guns! What is this a documentary on American Pride? No, its a heavy hitting EDM music video set in a Japanese Strip Club.

I know what you’re thinking… who is Macklemore? Well a lot of people, especially outside of Seattle were asking the same thing when this video dropped. Directed by local filmmaker Zia Mohajerjasbi with stunning cinematography, this will always be a favorite of mine.

 

Think I missed something spectacular that should be added to the list? Please share!