Grief, two years later.

As I work towards finishing Pause of the Clock, I have naturally thought an awful lot about the time when we were making the film. During the course of shooting, many, many people worked on the film. Cast, crew, and random classmates and acquaintances I cajoled into being drivers or grips or just plain helping out in one way or another. I’ve pored over my old camera and sound reports, the still photos we took on the set, and my own diary. To be honest I didn’t remember everyone’s name, and I really want to make sure everyone has their place in the end credits. Diving back into these documents has been invaluable.

I’ve begun to reconnect to various people I’ve fallen out of touch with, sharing my excitement about “unpausing” the film while also catching up. 20 years is, after all, a lot of time. And thus far, without exception, it’s been pretty wonderful. That is, until today.

For awhile now I’ve been trying to locate one of my classmates at Columbia College who was my assistant director in Spring 1996, during the last phase of shooting. His name was John Carmichael. Today my search ended:

John William Carmichael, a self-taught artist who emerged from Detroit as a young man with a striking, abstract vision and a mammoth musical repertoire covering more than three decades, died in his home Tuesday June 5, 2012, in Los Angeles. He was 39. John persevered for over 20 years despite a longstanding battle with epilepsy.

As an artist, his massive body of work amassed multiple eras and genres of music and film, including “Turnstyles,” a vinyl mix series from 1997-2007 with over 45 DJ mixes and over 48 hours of music, a full-length film titled “Cycles,” and the track “What It Is” on Om Record’s “Deeper Concentration.”

Born Dec. 4, 1972, at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, John was the beloved son of Robert R. and Lizabeth (Beth) Glick Carmichael. John’s survivors include his parents, Beth and Bob Carmichael of California; his sister and close friend, Katie Carmichael Catlin of Atlanta, Georgia; his grandmother, Nancy Glick, of Flat Rock; as well as many friends and extended family.

I read the obituary and then closed my office door. Immediately I thought back to the last time I saw him. It was around 2002, I believe. I was still a barista at Intelligentsia. One day he happened to come in for a cup of coffee. We spent a few minutes chatting across the counter. He told me about his life after Columbia, moving to LA and what that was like, his DJ work. He asked about the film, I’m sure, and I probably shrugged in a que sera sera way and admitted I never finished it. Then he gave me his business card, which I still have in a drawer of my desk at home, and we said goodbye.

The wistful, melancholy feeling I have right now … the clenched knot in my throat …

One of the scenes in the film called for my character to eat a donut, and the morning of the shoot John arrived with three dozen of them from Dunkin Donuts. He ran many such errands, buying batteries and supplies, keeping track of details and making continuity notes. An important part of Pause of the Clock for me is fully honoring those moments in time that the film captures, and the many people over the years who have worked on the project, by finishing it. I’m heartbroken that John isn’t here to share this achievement. But I’m so grateful he gave of himself, his time, and his talents when a semi-clueless 20-year-old came up to him after class one day and said, “Hey, I’m shooting a feature. Want to help?”

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