Foggy, wet, and numbingly cold: fairly atypical for Dallas except for these two weeks we call winter.
My twenty minute drive to the house affords me plenty of time to truly doubt why we had ever planned to meet so early. It seems that our group is destined to live on the edge of sanity.
I guess that's what it takes to get a good story. I try to tell myself as I pull up behind Sean's cherry red Mazda 3. I smile as I thought about how, after spending countless hours with the Creō team, just knowing they were already inside gives me a renewed sense of hope and excitement.
I grab my gear from the car and work my way up the slippery side walk. Gosh I hope they like to keep their house warm.
Before I could finish knocking, the door opens to reveal a tall, well-dressed man with a great beard and huge smile. Kyle Steed.
He ushers me into the house but not before welcoming me with a hug. Whether it's the seemingly endless length of his arms or his overwhelming genuineness, – though if I had to guess I'd probably say both – a hug from Kyle is quite unlike the quick and simple hugs we are so often tempted to give to those we call our friends. Kyle's hugs are purposeful and neither invasive nor overwhelming. With the subtle dedication of a gesture, he lets you know that he cares for you.
I set my gear to the side of the living room and greet Sean and Paul who have been busily walking through the house deciding which room has the best light and what might need to be done to get the perfect shot. These two keep me laughing incessantly. Like brothers or childhood friends, they are constantly disagreeing with one another, unaware of, at times, how similar their opinions really are. And yet their respect and care for one another is almost tactile. These two would probably jump in front of a car for the other and then turn right around and argue about whose fault it was. Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Suzanne texts us and to let us know she is around the corner. Suddenly, the promise of time with great people, the chance at telling a new story, and my extreme extrovertedness kick in and, with a growing sense of expectation, I ask if anyone had ventured out into the fog to get a picture. Kyle lets us know there is a deep ravine behind his house, and, like a group of kids who have suddenly been promised candy, we rush to the large window at the back of the house. "Let's do it!" I exclaim, having completely forgotten my recent trepidation for spending any unnecessary amount of time outside in the cold.
A few slips, jumps, climbs, and near death experiences later, we reach the bottom of the ravine. A small stream winds its way down the bottom of the gulch, revealing shiny, smooth stones that seem deceivingly stable. The fog, having somehow grown thicker in the last hour, boxes us in on all sides. It is both eerie and breathtakingly beautiful. The soft, dull light making its way through the fog show off the deep, muted colors of the wet trees, leaves, and rocks.
No one seems to care about the cold or our scheduled plans. All we care about is the spontaneous adventure we have decided to take together and, like all people suffering from a photographic itch, making sure we document it well. "Stand on that rock, look up there, turn back towards me." Simple commands we are all well acquainted with and more than happy to perform for one another. Kyle skips a few rocks just to see if he still has the magic touch and we head back to the house, cold, wet, and absolutely inspired.
Inside, Kyle hands Paul - who, betrayed by a loose root, found himself waist deep in the frigid stream - a pair of dry sweatpants for him to change into. We set up the camera and begin filming Kyle as he begins his day…
Was there anything (PAUL) especially different about telling Kyle's story vs. Kate or Clint's?
The difference, at least one of them, with Kyle's story is that there's already so much about him and his work on the internet. So the story really had to be less about what Kyle does and more about who he is. The challenge became: how do you capture the philosophy rather than the work? And how do you condense who a person is into a 2-3 minute video and some written words? I'd like to think we were able to capture some of who he is, but I don't think we were able to truly encapsulate Kyle. But that's a good thing.
What was the hardest part (SUZANNE) of telling this story?
All of it. I never imagined how difficult it would be to tell the story of someone that focused primarily on intangibles. It's so natural to structure narratives based on specific markers: achievements, tasks, places, characters. But the way Kyle's story unfolded was different. The richness we uncovered existed between the lines of all of his accolades. After hours and hours of useless drafts, I finally realized that this wasn't going to be just another brag list about all of Kyle Steed's achievements, his bio highlights, or even much about his actual artistic process--it was going to be about who he was on a much deeper level. At one point I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, "I am telling a story about the value of another human being." There's no faking your way through a story like that. And I certainly wouldn't want to.
So what did you (BEN) learn from this story?
If nothing else, this story taught me that filming your friends is considerably more difficult than filming a total stranger. While filming Bell & Oak and Kate Weiser, part of our adventure was discovering their stories. We had to be sure to ask the right questions to learn to most about them in the short time that we had with them. With Kyle, we already knew quite a bit about him and his life. Between random conversations at WELD or time sitting around a campfire, we’ve come to know Kyle, his story, and what makes him tick. So this time, our job was less about discovery and more about curation. We had to pick, from all the great things we knew and love about Kyle and his family, what was really worth sharing with everyone. Think about it; it’s as if someone came up to you and asked you to describe everything about one of your closest friends in three minutes or less. It’s not a question of if you will leave something out but what you are going to leave out.
(SEAN) What was your favorite part of telling Kyle's story?
My favorite part of telling Kyle's story was getting to know a really good guy who I can now call a friend.