Midway through the construction of WELD Nashville, I get a call from an unknown number...
“My name is Debria. My stepfather, Cooper, said he met you at WELD and that I could call you.”
"....Um ok. Well good to meet you Debria... What can I do for ya?”
I look at the time on the oven in my kitchen. It’s 9:30PM.
Cooper, who was hired on by our construction team to help with electrical work, has a personality that overflows and demands to be known beyond any occupational role. He was loosely chastised on day one for being a chatty kathy with me, but I assured them that I prefer to get to know everybody involved and appreciated Cooper making himself known.
There are limits to making yourself available to others, you want to guard against being spread too thin and late night calls press the limit when your mind is already scattered and looking for rest. But alas, I feel it essential to make room for that on principal, not just opportunistically.
Debria goes forward with a brief introduction of herself.
"I’m 16 years old. I’m currently a regional finalist in the boys and girls club, and once I continue to advance, I'm going to meet the president! I want to change the world, and I believe I can alongside other people."
I’m impressed with her boldness already.
“I do spoken word. Would you like to hear?”
I barely slip out an audible “Sure” before she begins. Her voice changes from soft and cordial to fierce and commanding. She’s apparently set the phone away from her face so that she can project her voice properly without peaking the phone’s mic.
5 minutes of an uninterrupted whirlwind of passionate, emotive, straight to your gut vocal delivery, as if channeling some force that has been achingly without audience for centuries.
There’s a moment of silence as she picks up her phone again.
“So what do ya think?” She inquires in her soft speaking tone again.
“What are you doing tomorrow? Have your parents bring you to WELD and we can make a video for you.”
Debria shows up with her mother, Misha, little sister, Damya, and her stepfather, Cooper. It was cool to show the family all the work Cooper was up to.
We film a couple sequences with natural light and white walls. It was raw and powerful but didn’t quite capture the essence. I pulled out my iPad and looked up N:O:T:H:I:N:G video which is just a sequence of flashing colors. We went to a blackout room and Cooper held the iPad up to Debria’s face while I filmed and used my iPhone flashlight as an accent.
The second shot was done simply by filming her shadow from an iPhone light. Then we filmed Damya dancing with no music, just her older sister's voice in the background.
We only shot for about 30 minutes, but what was captured was powerful.
Debria would like to inform you that YOU ARE A DIAMOND! Check it out here.
Debria mentions as we are packing up that she has another spoken word piece she worked on the day before.
"Can we do just like a one shot take before we leave? This one's called #blacklivesDOmatter."
I pick up my camera and press record. The first and final take was the only capture and I was hearing it for the first time while filming. At one point, the iPad's light shut off... I reached my finger over to try and restart it and Debria kept rolling with it. That moment became a happy accident that worked really well in the video. See it at the 1:06 mark.
Hope you are all as inspired as I was by both of these pieces.