So sad this morning to learn of Bobby Makar’s passing last fall. I met Bobby when we were both students at Kent State, where he later went on to teach writing and video production. A couple of years after college, we ran into each other at Peabody's in Cleveland during a live Smodcast show. I’m a longtime and ardent Kevin Smith fan, but Bobby used to say he would “take a bullet” for the man. Bobby was such a funny, kind, warm, generous, and talented dude.
This picture is his concept sketch from one of the several music videos he produced for me in 2012. He wrote a lovely piece about how we met and later collaborated in the description of the resulting music video which begins, “The first time I met David Ullman, I didn’t really like him.” Of course, he then goes on to say some absurdly sweet things. You can read the whole thing on his website here, but I’m also going to copy and paste it to the end of this blog entry, as his site will likely come down before too long (once the web-hosting dues are not renewed).
One of the very first Instagram posts I made was of a behind the scenes photo filming with him late one night after-hours in the video production studio where I worked in Cleveland at the time. After filming two music videos and an interview about the album for a making-of piece, we were packing up. Bobby mentioned he was still going to hit the gym on his way home to Streetsboro. I thought working out after midnight was a terrible idea, but he said he’d made a promise to himself years ago to work out every day. That’s the kind of guy he was. He’d teach production to students during the day, film several music videos “pro bono” for an old college buddy ‘till midnight, hit the gym on the way home—likely kept awake by a dark-roast coffee and loud punk rock music—and probably fall asleep to some pro wrestling or Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and longtime girlfriend June.
Re-posted from http://filmmakar.com/portfolio/david-ullman-wise-blood/
DAVID ULLMAN – WISE BLOOD
Director, Editor, Music Videos, Shooter
The first time I met David Ullman, I didn’t really like him.
It was the first day of a Media Writing course in college and like any other first day, I was sitting alone in the back, reading comics and quietly judging everyone. It was a typical college class with typical college kids. The hung-over frat boy wearing flip-flops and pajama shorts. The bookish girl who printed off the syllabus a day or two early and had already put highlighter to textbook. The stoned hipster with a thin mustache and fat headphones.
They were all there…and so was David Ullman.
I remember him sitting across the room looking like Johnny Depp as Gilbert Grape with a gruff-as-hell-lumberjack charm. His eyes had a depth that seemed endless. Eyes that looked off into the distance as if he were looking into a sea of ideas; eyes that probably made chicks swoon. But not even his eyes were quite as deep as the green of his then brand new boots. I recognized him immediately—-from posters that I had seen plastered around town and the student center; glossy black and whites that showcased a lone songwriter and his guitar on stage, looking like a college town Springsteen. When I first saw them, I was jealous, and here he was in front of me now. I guess it wasn’t that I didn’t like David Ullman, it’s that I didn’t want to like David Ullman.
SEE: Vintage David Ullman show fliers: flickr.com/photos/davidullman/sets/72157625729727042/
I didn’t talk to David until we were a few weeks deep into the class. I don’t remember how, but we got into a conversation about comic books and it led us to the movie adaptation of James O’Barr’s The Crow. I love The Crow, but to say that David loves The Crow is a massive understatement. He told me about a documentary he had made about the making of the movie and it was then that the guy on the posters at the student center became the David I know now—-a wildly passionate, self-proclaimed “sad bastard” folk rocker, who, above all, is a genuine, humble-as-fuck nice guy as warm as the flannel shirts he’s always tucked away in.
Over a few semesters, we bonded over comic book movies, U2 records and a mutual love for Kevin Smith in video production classes and always talked about collaborating on a music video but it never came together before he graduated and drifted into the abysmal void of post college life where we casually kept in touch but didn’t see each other often.
Years had passed in real world stasis before we randomly bumped into each other at a live recording of a Kevin Smith podcast. David told me about his album Light the Dark and a few months later, we were plotting music video ideas on the patio of a now defunct coffee shop in my hometown of Streetsboro, OH.
Over sunset and a few cups of dark roast, we beat around a lot of overly ambitious, and ultimately forgettable ideas for videos until we began to realize what David Ullman really is. He mentioned that during performances of “Wise Blood,” he had gotten so into it that he almost stomped his now thoroughly worn green boot through a wooden floor. That was it. A guy so into the music that he makes that it makes him kick through the fucking floor. That’s certainly a dude whose foot would stomp through a music video. That’s the concept. The earnest songsmith playing his songs the way he plays them, giving it his all. The same guy from the posters in the student center that looked like the college town Springsteen. It’s his performance that makes him him and it’s the honesty and the intensity of the performance that proves what I’ve believed since I really got to know him—if Bruce Springsteen is The Boss, then David Ullman is The Assistant Manager. That performance is like breathing for David when he’s on stage and it’s in the videos. All I had to do is point a camera at it and hit a record button. It’s a privilege to really know David and it’s an honor to get to work with him.
Filmmaker and David Ullman fan