So I thought i would be able to ignore speaking on this situation and the chaos that erupted in the aftermath of the shocking crime Damion Looney is faced with. The emails and comments are getting hard to control and redundant to reply to. Freedom of speech is something I am all for but in recent days I find that it’s something I have to censor in order to keep things with my brand true to the art I try to create. Saddle Above the Axle was the first time I decided I would and could do this film-making thing. I always said it was an accident that I even made a documentary. I was out learning how to use a camera and camera techniques and playing with the idea of making cinematic style trailers. One day I decided to go to the Wichita Skate Park downtown and shoot footage with this vague idea to make a story about the skatepark. I was shooting and a guy came to me and asked what I was shooting for and if I was a scout. I told him no I am a “filmmaker” looking to do a story on the skatepark. I asked if I could interview him and he had zero problem with it. I took the camera and asked his name and age and he said “I am Damion Looney 26 years old from Kansas…” From there he told me a story about his life that changed my story and essentially my life.
If Damion had never walked over to me, I may have never had such a powerful first documentary story. I may have made some throwaway junk film or I may have made a super super hit film that was not a documentary. Who knows what would have happen but what did happen was a start to my future and a series of events that has led me into this world of documentary filmmaking.
This is not an apology for Damion or me making an excuse for his actions. This is me trying to answer some of the questions that have flooded my email.
“Why would you make a documentary about such an awful person?” “Do you really think this POS is worth making a movie about?” “You should take that movie down and not celebrate an evil monster!” All these harsh statements and I do understand. Animal Rights activist and people who hate violent criminalsI do understand how you feel but I can tell you either didn’t watch Saddle Above the Axle or let emotion lead you to ignore what was being said. I can not sit here and type this and act as if Damion is an angel but as a person who listened to his story and presented a fraction of that story I can at least say to me he was honest. In the film he talks about how he struggles to stay out of trouble and how when there is a void in certain aspects of his life he can make some bad choices. This one is obviously the worst he may have made.
I Know many of you googled his name and found another case from Austin and I can say I never researched Damion after making the film because I didn’t realize the magnitude of his past troubles. Talking to him while making the doc it seemed to me his focus was staying out of trouble and just enjoying life. He told his story and that was his truth. In no way could I see this coming nor would I have expected it from him. One of the last times I spoke with Damion he was telling me he wanted to finish the documentary but there wasnt anything really to finish at that time but with the responses I have been receiving it seems now that it was a call to pay attention and now I know the story isnt finished. MAny of you have questions that you want answered. I can say I have not talked to Damion and I have reached out to his mother just to try to give some positive words as a parent it can hurt to see a child go any direction that can harm themselves and others . I am not the one to cast judgement so I did not in the brief extension we had. If Damion wants to talk I will definitely provide an avenue for that and I will not insult the intelligence of the people. I will give an honest story of the truth with out the intention to pity nor shame. The judgement of a man comes from the court. I can not judge him or his actions and will not without listening to his story and position. I do not have the answers and all I can do is speculate. I have enjoyed some conversations with many of you and understand you want some sort of explanation.
Finally I do not condone nor agree with the type of violence that went on that night that Damion is accused of. I will not be taking down any videos or content that he is on because my artistic integrity along with the fact that it was the first piece I made as documentary filmmaker. It shows the starting line and my growth along the way. I will not make my work disappear because there is an audience of people who doesn’t care for the name in the film. For me, he did a favor by allowing me to tell a story and make a film on him and because of that I will do him the favor and make a film/followup in the future if he wants that. As long as everyone knows it will be honest and that I will be honest.