I Was Here: Filming A Legacy

Photo by Alan Collins with Meetshrimp Films

Back stage in the dressing room of my old high school’s theatre, there was a wall whereupon seniors would sign their names on the closing night of their last performance. The once eggshell white wall had been covered in lipstick, nail polish and sharpie. Some of the  scribbles were names, inside jokes and well wishes. Many thought in length about what they would leave on that wall but the truth is that it didn’t really matter what the author had decided to write down because all of it meant the same thing, I was here.

Film allows us that same opportunity to leave our mark on the world. With the push of a button we are able capture poignant human moments while at the same time create stories that might have so easily be forgotten and never acknowledged for what they are, lived experiences.

NPR recently aired an excellent piece that touched on the incredible impact a single person can make with compassion and a camera. In the interview “Advocate Fights’ ‘Ambient Despair’ in Assisted Living,” Martin Bayne shares his experience of living in an assisted living facility where he helps those around him leave a legacy of their own. Mr. Bayne says of the interviews,

“It’s wonderful. I just set my camera up on a tripod, I invite people  in to sit with me and talk for half an hour about anything that’s on their mind. …”
Mr. Bayne was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s that inhibits him from performing some of the “simplest things.” Still, Mr. Bayne has been able to offer two important elements that have promoted positive change in the world around him, he has provided his time and a  his time and a finger to push “record.” Simple and yet so powerful. If not for Mr. Bayne, these stories could be lost forever, especially when time is so limited. He says,
“I try and get people on video as soon as possible because you never know how long they’re going to be here, and the video has never let me down.” 
As honest and influential as film can be, too often the line between lens and subject manifests into an impenetrable barer no one dares to (or wants to) cross. Suddenly, both parties are separated, the subjects become objectified while the storytellers transform into manipulators of truth and reality. We are at a point in our young digital age where fame comes fast and our quest for remembrance is offered at a price that begs, ‘does it matter what your legacy is as long as it exists?’ What is the price? 
On Your Feet Entertainment decided early on that legacy would represent a large part of our company’s  mission. As Mr. Bayne describes, video “[is] the most intimate form of communication that I can think of…”  As the people who stand behind the camera we take responsibility for our artistic voice and continually remind ourselves to utilize this power for good, for understanding, and for the benefit of others. Mr Bayne has built a level of trust with his subject so that they can let themselves be seen. Mr. Bayne explains, 

“I find that people that I’ve never talked to before in that way all of a sudden open, and your life spills out in front of me and I’m moved often to tears myself. One of the first things I do when someone’s died is show the video for their children. I still keep them, but I always show it to the family if I do have a video of the deceased.”

These videos will probably never be shown to the public, and the individuals interviewed will remain unnamed and ambiguous to us outsiders. And that is fine. It is not a requirement that the entire world must bear witness for one to leave a legacy. Even though that signed wall in my old theatre has been torn down, there is comfort in knowing that I had left my mark.

Click here for more information on Mr. Bayne’s interview

Lexi

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