The end of the semester is always a crazy time around the doc|UWM office. Students are frantically working on edits and it’s not uncommon for us to be running out on a last minute shoot. When the band Blessed Feathers said we could film their Tuesday night concert at Turner Hall we jumped at the chance.
After meeting the band and putting a wireless microphone on the band’s lead singer Donivan Berube the crew began following him around the venue, getting him used to the camera, and recording him as he mingled with family, friends, and fans. Most people, even performers, are not used to have a film crew following them.
We’ve spent the entire semester documenting bands for our Cream City Soundcheck video series and at this point in the class I am confident enough with my student filmmakers that I feel I can give them a little more distance, hover a little less, and trust their instincts. While the crew was taking a break from filming I overheard Colin Perkins, a student from the class, say that he heard Donivan talking about being nervous and having a ring in his pocket. My ears perked up and I quickly began asking questions. Mistakenly, I thought Donivan and Jaquelyn Beaupre – the other half of the band – were already married, or at least engaged. I began to question my assumption and ran off in pursuit of an answer.
Not wanting to ask Donivan directly, I inquired with others who knew the band. Luckily, local filmmaker Erik Ljung was also there documenting the band. Erik and I proceeded to have an interesting conversation where we each tried to figure out what the other knew. He finally realized that my students had discovered Donivan’s plans for the night. Erik then admitted that Donivan was indeed going to propose Jaquelyn after the fifth song in their set. Taking this information, I ran back to our crew and told everyone to be prepared for the proposal. While I am sure no one on our crew was as nervous as Donivan, I could sense that everyone on our team knew the uniqueness of this moment and the importance of capturing it with our cameras.
So much of documentary is about being in the moment and capturing that moment. It’s a certain sort of excitement you don’t get from scripted filmmaking; that uncertainty and unpredictability of life happening before your eyes. doc|UWM has gotten to film a lot of magical moments, but this is certainly one for the ages.
We wish Donivan and Jaquelyn the best and congratulate them on this new chapter in their lives. We also want to thank them for allowing us to share it with us and we can’t wait until next semester when get to take them on an adventure in Milwaukee. So, that leaves us one with one big question, “Where do we go from here?”
– Ryan Sarnowski, instructor/co-producer
Blessed Feathers – Proposal – Cream City Soundcheck Special Feature (by creamcitysoundcheck)