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Almost a year ago, the city of Boston had its biggest day rocked by two explosions near the finish line of the marathon on Boylston Street, and on April 21, thousands will remember those who were killed and injured by running again in their memory.
Boston photographer and director John James Miller co-wrote and directed a short video, released by J.J. Miller Productions, to uplift the community on the eve of the anniversary. With the marathon less than three weeks away, the city is preparing for the biggest Patriot’s Day in history, as 9,000 additional runners have registered to race — totaling 36,000 — and up to 1 million spectators will cheer them on, according to the Boston Athletic Association.
In light of the blasts that left three dead and injured 264 people on April 15, 2013, Miller’s creation “captures the essence of how everyone feels,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The marathon is the celebration of spring and gearing up for the Red Sox season. And especially with what happened last year, the script we wrote and visuals we shot show the community’s spirit.”
Featuring aerial views of the iconic Boston streets and historic Fenway Park, the video captures the atmosphere of the city, as well as footage from President Obama‘s speech about the tragedy at last year’s interfaith service. The narration emphasizes that “this is not a shoe commercial. It’s not a clothing commercial, either. It’s a story about a city. A city that was built by rebels.” Miller claims the script was originally an advertisement, “but it ended up being a commercial-style shoot for the city of Boston and the marathon. We made sure not to include any brands or logos.”
The two-minute video was shot on a Red Epic and Movi, GoPro3+ and a DJI in 24 hours and edited over three days. The hashtag that the team created, #wewillrun, reminds the city that terrorism will not instill fear in participants of Boston’s most iconic event. “It represents resilience and perseverance as well as a clear message that embodies what athletes will be doing this year,” says Miller.
“Boston is such a tough city overall, and the people’s mentality is so funny,” he says. “Even when we were shooting, we parked in a spot we weren’t supposed to park in, and when we told the police officer it was for the marathon, she let us go right in.
“We shot three aerials with helicopters, and we wanted it to fly over the Tea Party. During the third shot, the helicopter flew in between two buildings and got caught on a 20-foot glass ledge,” Miller explains. “I thought there was no way they were going to get it down, and I was afraid I lost my footage. The next day they took a crane and got it down for us.”
Miller, who had plans to produce the video for several months, but was delayed due to travel in Los Angeles, finally co-wrote and directed with his team members over the last week. “I got an email this morning from someone who was at the finish line commending the video. It’s nice to give back,” he says. “The intention of this was to be on social media as a tribute, as well as an inspiration for the runners and spectators this year. I grew up outside Boston, and this event, which is loved by so many across the nation, should continue to be a wonderful tradition,” he adds.
Miller’s Boston-based studio is renowned for specialized photography and commercial advertising for athletes and celebrities. Some of his previous clients includes Duck Dynasty‘s Jase and Phil Robertson, the A Team singer Ed Sheeran, Selena Gomez, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Tyrese Gibson, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, and MLB athletes Alex Gordon and Gordon Beckham.
His latest work is “dedicated to the great city of Boston and its people, and especially to the victims Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu, as well as to MIT police officer Sean Collier, who died in the line of duty. They messed with the wrong city. We choose to be Boston Strong, and WE WILL RUN.”
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