In early June, filmmaker Marcus Haney arrived in Seattle to shoot footage of his younger brother's friends for a music video he was filming. His brother's friends were young, 20-ish, college students, united by a common bond: After relatively conservative Christian upbringings, they were beginning to branch out, to question the things that their parents and teachers had told them, to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
Haney filmed them going about their lives — riding motorcycles on lush country roads, making out, rolling cigarettes, fishing. Then, on June 5, a gunman opened fire in the lobby of a math and sciences building at Seattle Pacific University, killing student Paul Lee, 19, and injuring two others.
The crew Haney was filming were students at SPU. They lived in the same hall as their friend, Paul. And, in the aftermath of the shooting, they decided that they didn't want Haney to stop filming the video. So, Haney spent the weekend with them and their grief, living in their dorm — in Paul Lee's dorm — where students, who didn't yet know who had survived and who hadn't, dragged their mattresses out into the hallway and waited for Paul's return.
The result is the video for Bears Den's "Elysium" — a beautiful, haunting testament to innocence lost, to the power of a community in the face of tragedy and to the humanity and imperfection of the students who lived through it.
VICE has an interview with Haney, whose brother, it turns out, would have been working in the lobby of that building at the time of the shooting if he hadn't been out with his friends filming the video.
"When I heard that," he told VICE's Sam Wolfson, "all the emotions I’d been repressing over that heavy weekend just hit me."
The Paul Lee foundation helps people struggling with mental and emotional health issues. You can find out more and donate here.