He was 10 when he picked up the camcorder
. His father had left it on the kitchen table and he picked it up, found how to take off the lens cap and went to work.
He started with odd little scenes involving gerbils, younger sisters and TV shows. At 12 he made his first real film and had it edited at school. It was an action drama staring his friends and an INVISIBLE MONSTER! He told us it was rated G …for gore. At least one bottle of ketchup was involved in the production.
At 14 he started making little movies to show family and friends. A day in the life of squirrels. Six hours at the mall food court. The construction (and destruction) of a snowman. He wanted that one to be black and white, but couldn’t figure out a way to get that done.
At 16 he was carrying his recorder everywhere. It was his journal-his daily record of the people and objects around him. One day on the way home from school he stopped to watch a late afternoon sunset- "hoping to catch a rainbow," he said. A thunderstorm had cut a swath through the subdivision and the sky had shifted from gray to black to light blue in a matter of minutes. Now, almost dusk, the sun fell through the bottom of the cloud deck and lit up the sky bright orange. Every building, every car window facing west shown yellow gold. He was panning the street catching the colors and the shadows and probably didn’t even notice the car weaving around the corner. His family found out later the man behind the wheel had suffered a heart attack and probably didn’t even know where he was when he wrecked. The car hopped the curb by the video artist and slammed into a tree. As steam rose from the crushed radiator the camera continued to run and the face of the man behind the wheel, equally crushed, was brought into view, focused on. It was pressed against the front window-mouth ajar, eyes closed .
His family knew all of these details because they watched the tape the next day. It was the last tape the boy made. I don’t think anyone blamed him, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When his father asked him about it the next day he mumbled something about "the end of observance."
He never picked up the camera again Any camera. Every now and then you can see him looking out windows at clouds and I wonder if he is trying to imagine the light angles. Maybe its just me.