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08.28.15

VISUAL CUES w/ Ben Fee |CULTURE|

So it began. I took a red eye from my home in Oakland, to my old stomping grounds of the bean town sometime in mid to late Spring, calendar year 2015. It was going to be an insane week, and I had tried to prepare my dumb face for it beforehand. It was a 7 day trip to produce the launch campaign for York Athletics—the product of two stems of friends that somehow wound their way together organically in only ways that fantastic organisms can. I think it’s actually part of the process called “Evolution.” Maybe not. Either way, we had 6 days after I landed to coordinate the shoot, get the gear, iron out the creative, shoot 7 people in their unique scenarios over a span of 3 states. What most people call a “logistical nightmare.” Mark, the passionate head of York Athletics is one of my greatest, longest, warmest human friends. Maybe now is a good time to touch on that. The people Mark wrangled to be part of this are some of the best people I could have the pleasure of being around. They are humble, hard working, life living, life loving drivers. But there was a level of love around everything because of who Mark chose to be a part of not only this shoot, but the brand in general.


My brain and face and body just couldn’t do it anymore. I think I was in mid sentence about something or other and just talked into nothingness. OH! Here’s a fun story. I grew up on the East Coast. I learned how to drive on the east coast. I appreciate the jerks and their jerkmoves! Mark and I made a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts per my homecoming request. I got a bagel and a tea or some crap. Leaving Dunkies, we were just driving like normal people, going the speed limit and signaling, when out of nowhere this guy driving a BOSTON GLOBE DELIVERY TRUCK honked, passed us on the right, and gave a flying Boston bird with a “FACK YOU” and a swerve. He continued to wave his bird out the window for the following block. Goodness bless the Bostonians, for confounded anger is in their coffee. It was great to be back.

Mark and I started Facetiming our east coast friends that may or may not have known I was coming back home. We were driving around behind Beth and Heather on our way to location scout and camera pickup. In this photo we were talking to Brian Barb—one of our former roommates and a premium passionate dancer. We were trying to reach him for a while. I guess Mark and I looked like we were just taking selfies. Which was the best thing I could have imagined. Just a couple of old men who want the world to know what their faces look like in a van. Sometimes I wish it was all that simple. It was nice to see Brian, and at least have this proof that we might as well have been just taking selfies.

I first met Beth about 11 years ago or something like that, under the auspice that she was dating one of my best friends. It turns out Beth, over the next decade, would become an amazing friend and peer/collaborator. Here is where, after years of relationships, the three of us got to sit down in person to discuss this amazing baby these two lovers had been loving so well. Hearing their vision, and chucking in my few cents was so rewarding. The best trophy a no-sleepy jerk face could ask for.  

This is the first time I met my AC (assistant camera), Dan Dunn. This guy was such a champion. Something great about filmmaking: The people you get to share intense experiences with. They are a good lot. He and I were probably talking about X Ray vision, or Cat Food, or Leprechaun Porn, but you know what? We look very intent on doing the best work we can do. This was our first location, and we had no idea what to expect. Our subject, Don York, was rumored to be a real hoot.

If you are reading this, you are probably on YORK Athletics’ website, or blog, or chat room, or live journal or widget… either way, you know there is a name York attached to something you are looking at. This good sir right here is Don York (no coincidence he shares the same name as the brand.) He has many sons. One of his sons was a producer on this campaign. Another son married my good friend/former roommate named Danielle. They have two great daughters. They are also great friends with Mark. Mark, Danielle and I used to live together. Don, your sewn oats are responsible for bringing together so many facets of great things! Great job Don & Don Oats!

 

 

What kind of person is Don York? The kind of guy who, as a father to a whole pride of boys, keeps up artwork from each and every one of them in his office. For decades. That’s the kind of dad I’d like to be.

I love this photo. For what it meant for the entire shoot. This was the moment Kevin took off his cap to reveal this insane scar. It’s the type of thing that imaginations do wonders with . Concocting tales of skull-birthings or savage axe fights. Once seeing this, I knew it had to be a feature in the video. Bodies aren’t supposed to survive things like that. Kevin is more than just a boxer/fighter. He’s a survivor. It all became clear at this precise moment. We climbed into the bathroom, just three of us lads, to capture a moody shot that would set the bar for Kevin’s time on camera. Not one person watches the video now, and doesn’t gasp or call out that shot. Every great production has a story about something happening to shape the final piece. Ours came right before we got our first shot of Kevin. Here it is. 

Sure I didn’t sleep much each night, and sure I lugged this camera around most waking hours… but let me tell you… I asked Kevin (politely) to beat the shit out of that fat ass bag after doing a complete training day on camera. After every time, Kevin would say, “Was that okay?” His humility and positivity and work ethic was inspiring. But also, really, made me feel like a weird goblin that gets tired from changing the channels on a cable TV while eating pizza cake. That man, Kevin, he is the epitome of hard work.

Our shoot schedule was so intense. We rarely had time to play back our clips for any of the subjects. I felt like it was due at a couple point during Kevin’s day, to show that his sacrifice was yielding good results. The first was when we captured his scar on the back of his head, the second was in the middle of him sweating profusely while pounding that heavy bag. Each one of those was a place where Kevin was baring his vulnerability for the world. When people see how well you treat them in their most exposed states, they will determine how much more they want to give you. I never take peoples’ hard work and vulnerability for granted. They are two things that make us both hardened and tender. Oh, and Kevin’s smile after seeing some of his slow mo boxing shots was priceless. Oh, and if you look closely in the D picture, you will see a nice lad with glasses and reddish pants on. That’s Tyler York. He was a producer on set…ON HIS BIRTHDAY! 

This is Lynn Gunn. She sings and plays guitar for “Pvris”. She is at once kind, adventurous, motivated, hard working, beautiful, and a healthy portion of talented. She was very easy to shoot, and willing to be a goof. When speaking on camera her answers were so real and unrehearsed, but also meticulously stated. Lynn is the kind of successful explosion of a person that happens once in a blue moon. It’s nice to see her harnessing all of her damn passions and abilities to do what she loves to do.

Lynn said something about someone “Peeing” on her neck. I pretended it was really normal. Turns out I wouldn’t know what she was talking about until I saw these photos. 

It should be more clear to me by now that my great friends, who are great and many things, and think like .0069% of the human population, would be amazing parents. At this point in life, the only thing that could impress me more about people I hold dearly, is how well the instill their love and joy in their childrens’ lives on the daily. What Matty and his son Tucker do for each other is pretty spectacular. This should be the cover of a print magazine. Not on the internet. Something people can hold in their hands at grocery store checkout lines. Something that says: “Hey person about to buy all those frozen fucking hot dog chips! How about going on an adventure with the person who loves you the most. Breathe joy into each others’ lives. Be good!” This is what these two people do every day by default. And I love them so much for it. And I will never take for granted how great these folks are, but it will always make me shake my head in awe. 

At 515 am, everything looks beautiful. Except everything my eyes see. It’s too goddamned early. This was after a 45 minute sleep, and a previous day that lasted 18 hours. But I only had 12 more hours to go before the week came to a close. And who cares if I worked myself into sicky hallucinations.This was one of the most fun and action packed shoots that I’ve ever ever done. Sam was just about to suit up to film her day of running around Castle island chased by drones and goons. She held that composure all damn day. Damn. Oh, that’s Mark in the middle. He’s the friend who I talked about in the beginning. He has put his life onto the line for what he believes in, and I love him for it. He’s going to do remarkable things. And already has. Now that I’m writing in hindsight, I sure do miss these days. Or those. However that goes.

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