Statement on Damion Looney

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.
saddle above flyIf  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. Ashampoo_Snap_2012.12.07_07h30m13s_007_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.

ROWE

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4 thoughts on “Statement on Damion Looney

  1. rkonsgirl@gmail.com says:

    Lester Thank you for your words. I am sorry that you even had to defend your work or Damion . You are in my prayers as well… We all will get through this… Always~ Sue

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Jane Elspeth says:

    Hi, I haven’t seen the film or even heard of Damion Looney before tonight; I somehow missed the news when this occurred. It sounds as if you made this documentary in 2013, and the recent crimes done by this person occurred in 2016, yes? Personally I am not sure why people would hold you responsible for anything, this is a piece of work that exists and that is that. Had you done this documentary after he committed the crimes, that might be different. Having said that, I happened upon the story today (of the attempted homicide, assaults and animal cruelty/ fatally wounding the cat)- and it made me almost physically ill. The entire sequence of the story read like an even more violent version of Reservoir Dogs, with a lead character with even less redeeming value. I don’t know why in hell the video is still available online; I am a compassionate person, and involved in animal rescue. Just reading the description of the video left me feeling shaken and demoralized. There were not such graphic descriptions of the other assaults. The whole story left me wondering about humanity in general and Looney’s own personal descent into hell and dehumanization. It left me wondering about the pain and fear his victims, including the cat, experienced. The humans chose to be there, the animal did not. I would not personally hold it against you if you spoke with him, that is none of my business and your choice as another human. I would also feel some sympathy for his mother. I do wonder if the judge mandated any anger management training, volunteer work (supervised) with animals, and alcohol/ drug rehab as part of his sentence. If you did some sort of documentary piece on this guy, I would hope that it did not cater to any possible dishonesty on his part in any way. I will watch the entire documentary later, but during the short bit I watched, I wasn’t super impressed with his honesty or self awareness..he seemed high at times, and I just wasn’t clear on why having an ACL injury would cause a person to suddenly start having bar fights, break windows and go to jail. I.e. bullshit, IMHO. Thanks for reading my comments. This sort of story makes me feel almost ashamed to be a human- the innate ability to inflict such cruelty on those who are defenseless.

  3. Jane Elspeth says:

    addendum… the word that didn’t come to mind was “despair.” This is the sort of story that brings one to despair, like reading about child abuse or homicide. If this fellow was a friend or acquaintance and I suddenly heard the news about the crime, would have same reaction. It seems to me that there is no possible explanation for such crimes. Alcohol and drugs? No. Sadly, one wonders if having been the subject of a documentary piece, maybe psychological impetus to film his actions then post online. (NOT any blame, just what his life experience was).

    • Rowe says:

      Hi. I sat in the trial during alot of the testimony and without prejudice i have to say this is why its important to have fair and accurate journalism. No one in news media showed up in court and I read some of the updates that came out as “trial coverage” was incorrect as well as misleading to the full story and events. I dont think any one walks away from this after hearing all testimony and think he was in the wrong. The brief of this is people came to his home uninvited threatening him and appearing to be taking his girlfriend out of the home against her will. his position was self-defense. I tend to agree but there is also the thing of proving self-defense in the legal sense based on the rules of the court. Im not saying i condone his actions nor condemn them. It was a night of drinking by everyone involved alot of emotions and confusion so I cant say what his level of emotion and thought process was especially when strangers are coming into your house and you are under the perception they want to do harm to you based on their actions. Based off the testimony its really about frame of mind everyones actions was based on another mixed with confusion and drinking. In terms of the animal abuse charges its the more controversial piece because there is no proof around it and who actually did it and was a plea deal to prevent it being used to sway facts. He is an animal lover which is something you got a sense of when being around him and no one close to him would say otherwise. Depending on how a person feels about animals in general can become a baggage hard to reconcile when you hear the media version of the night in question. its good for ratings. I left the video up because its my hard work. I do understand that it can bother people who only gets to touch the surface of the crime but I made the work and told a story. my work isnt disposable. which is why i felt the need to make the statement. Im not taking it down but I am very willing to express my position to anyone interested. This was before the trial and my understanding of what happened has developed. I wished that the coverage of the trial was equal to early reporting and if people still felt the same about that’s fine. Thanks or sharing how you were feeling about this and your position on some of the issues presented and starting the conversation. I still get hate mail behind it . sorry for any typos im typing by mobile

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