This June, filmmaker James Marcus Haney was creating a music video for Bear’s Den, a three man band from London. Haney wanted to create music video that would perfectly embody their song “Elysium,” so he decided to film his younger brother and his friends in their day-to-day lives in college at Seattle Pacific University, in Seattle.

 

Haney tells NPR’s Bob Boilen about the video. “I wanted to film him and his real friends doing actual things that they normally do. I wanted to document the actions and emotions of people at this age — the highs, the lows, the noteworthy and the mundane. I wanted to get inside what it feels like to be a teenager today.”

 

Haney visited his younger brother, Turner, in Seattle on June 5 and began filming for the music video. Not long after the filming had begun, tragedy struck Seattle Pacific University. A shooter opened fire inside the school, killing one person and wounding a few others. Haney revisits that day in his email to Boilen.

“The name of the slain student was not released, and no one knew when it would be. As hours passed by into night time, one student was still left unaccounted on my brother’s floor, four rooms down from us. One of the dorm-mates decided to sleep in the hallway just outside the elevator to wait for the missing student, so that he would wake up when the missing student came home. Others followed suit until the entire dorm floor hallway was filled with mattresses and students unable to sleep, all waiting for the elevator door to open.”

 

The next day, it was confirmed that their friend Paul Lee was the victim who had died. In mourning, the music video was the last thing on their minds. As they coped with the tragic loss of Lee, Haney says that many of the boys began listening to the song “Elysium,” whose lyrics resonated with them. Through the darkness, the song gained a new meaning. Although Haney, his brother, and his friends were mourning, they decided they wanted to finish the music video to honor their fallen friend.

 

The finished video paints an all too familiar image of life for a younger generation. Youth no longer attend school worry free or see going to college as a means to prolong growing up. Increased violence in schools has forced young people who, much like Haney’s brother, intend to spend carefree summer days lounging with friends, to face a grim reality far too soon.

 

In his own words, Haney describes the finished product as “a video that depicts real friends, real teenagers, experiencing something far too real.”

 

 

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