In grade six, classmate and friend Doug Weaver and I shot a LEGO-mation on 8mm film. We built the set from cardboard, LEGO lunar baseplates and a backlit starfield made from stretched, black plastic bags punched full of holes. Set to the music of Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust the film opened with a shuttle craft flying in from the upper-right corner of the screen, rotating to face the camera, and then setting down lightly on the landing pad. We used fishing line to puppeteer the shuttle and move LEGO buggies in real-time and frame-by-frame for the stop-action alien invasion. It was by no means an award winning production, nor worthy of acclaim beyond the classroom, but it set in motion a passion for story telling through film.
Since that first effort many years ago, I have worked extensively with my brother Jae, an award winning videographer and founder of the Almost Famous Film Festival. In 2011 it was time to give film making a solid go. I sold most everything I then owned, purchased a Canon 60D, light kit, Rhode Pro mic, and hit the road. I engaged in educational, sci-fi, and documentary filmmaking in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, each granting me a different means of viewing the world. I have since 2013 been honoured to work with LIGO, the astronomical observatory which on September 14, 2015, after more than thirty years of preparation detected the merging of two black holes. I have brought to fruition three films shown around the world, in classrooms, lecture halls, science museums, and on the National Science Foundation’s educational channels.
When I am behind the camera, I have no choice but to shut up and listen. I ask questions only long enough to open the flood gate that awaits within. I have learned, through my work around the world, that everyone has a compelling story to share. It is not just the adventurers, the founders, the leaders, but also those who are living life day to day that have a story worth telling.
From a field beneath a dark sky in the Adirondacks of upstate New York to an active volcano in Hawaii; from a robotics lab at NASA to the rural villages of Tanzania to two weeks embedded in a simulated Mars habitat, there are stories to move us, to make us laugh, and to cause us to cry.