I had never been a pallbearer before. While it is a great honor to carry out a family’s wishes, I got the opportunity way too early in my life. Aaron had just turned 20 years old when he was killed by a drunken driver. I was still a month and a half away from turning 20 years old when I helped carry his casket from the hearse to his graveside with a group of his closest friends. Placing my corsage on his casket was an eerie feeling that I will never understand. I can remember vividly looking to Dennis, Aaron’s dad, and telling him “you’ve done a great job.” Both Dennis and Kae, his mother, did an excellent job raising Aaron into a fine young man. His life was ended entirely too early at the hands of another human who chose to get behind the wheel while being three times over the legal limit on June 25, 2011.
It didn’t take long for Aaron’s friends and family in the Cypress area to get the ball rolling on Aaron’s Buddies Against Drunk Driving, a non-profit organization that honors Aaron by telling his story in order to prevent future alcohol related wrecks. (I’ve learned not to call them accidents) I can recall conversations with Kae about creating a video about drinking and driving as early as the day of the funeral. As fate would have it, I had the opportunity to learn documentary production as an intern to editor Paul Leone at Studios 121 in Fort Worth, Texas in the spring of 2012. The idea of a “video” evolved to a “short documentary” after I realized I was up for the challenge during my internship. Since I was in Fort Worth at TCU, away from day-to-day tasks with Aaron’s Buddies Against Drunk Driving, creating a documentary was my way to help tell Aaron’s story.
We filmed interviews in Cypress on Saturday, June 30th, just a few days after the one year anniversary of Aaron’s death. Preparing the questions for Dennis, Kae and Jack, his brother, was gut-wrenching. I knew I had to balance telling an emotional story on the screen and not stepping over line with family friends. It was a unique challenge asking questions that I knew would bring them to tears. We got through it and the interviews went well.
Over the next several months, I edited together interviews, pictures, 911 calls, music and narration to create a 24 minute documentary about Aaron’s life and legacy. My girlfriend suggested the title “1:36” for the film. It stuck and its meaning is revealed less than 10 minutes into the film. So far, the film has been received wonderfully. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram featured the film on the front page on February 1st and various outlets at TCU have covered the documentary as well. We’ve submitted the film to around 20 film festivals across Texas and the country and will begin to hear back from them about acceptance in the next few months.
If you are interested in seeing the film, we would love to see you at the Cypress United Methodist Church Premiere of “1:36” on March 16th at 6:00.