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Award Winner

Festival Season:

March 2024

The Girl Who Faded Away

The Girl Who Faded Away




Run Time:

Brent Heise
Brent Heise
George Daly

Awarded for the following Category(s):

Awarded Category(s)

The search for love happens in a place where angels fear to tread. 

A man is walking on the edge of deep woods, holding an old wooden case. A white owl in the trees takes notice of him and swoops down. In a puff of smoke the owl transforms and becomes a beautiful female apparition. The “Girl” warns him against going further in these woods. The man stops and he sets his wood case on a fallen tree trunk. He opens it. Inside is an old fashioned turntable, a wind-up phonograph he cranks before carefully placing the needle on an old, black vinyl record. 

The music crackles and plays and a story unfolds. He experiences a vision: he is approaching an exotic country estate with its entranceway resembling an exotic, metal bird cage. He’s there and he steps in and sees the Girl waiting for him. He pursues her, but she is always one step ahead, able to disappear by magic, or secretly walking behind him, uncatchable. Finally, the man is able to engage her in just one loving dance with the song that is still playing. But the beautiful apparition suddenly pulls away, fading away into thin air. And just as the music fades she deserts him. 

The vision gone, there at the edge of the woods, the man, abandoned by love, begins his long trek into his lonely future, literally, into his sunset with many miles ahead of him. As he departs into the stormy dark cloud fields, the owl screeches from her nest above the man. Abandoned by the man, the owl transforms one last time to the Girl Who Faded Away. She stands where the man stood, looking at him as he journeys forever away, a tear on her cheek, and mourning forever his departure.

Submitter Statement

This project unites remarkable elements to pay homage to the musical genius of Tom Guernsey. Tom left this world too soon with Lou Gerhrig’s disease before telling his story, but time has not diminished his brilliant musical achievements. At the pinnacle of his band’s success, the single “What a Girl Can’t Do” topped the charts, knocking the Beatles out of the top slot in the Washington, D.C. market in 1966. This project concerns the lesser known, yet unmistakably poetic and captivating, flip side to that famous 45 RPM record. The Girl Who Faded Away. 

Sharing my appreciation for the sensibility of this more obscure B side, former bandmate George Daly who, hearing of the project, signed on as the Executive Producer for this video. George is a music business icon who helped to galvanize the San Francisco music scene, and beyond, under the auspices of another industry titan, Clive Davis. George’s stewardship at several major labels garnered record sales of more than three hundred million, collaborating with artists and groups of significance and cultural impact. A shortlist of his collaboration includes names like Janis Joplin, The Cars, Tool, Huey Lewis and Carlos Santana. A simple Google search on George Daly will show immediately that his interest in Tom’s song has significance, and is why the film you are going to see has such a powerful back story. 

The poet Allen Ginsburg considered Tom one of his favorite musicians. Here is a link to an article enshrining the kinship shared between these artistic luminaries: 

Characteristic of such towering figures in San Francisco counterculture, George engages in gregarious outreach for the greater good. Through selfless acts of kindness, George fostered the reclaiming of publishing rights of the song for Tom’s widow, leading the way with a sense of duty for Tom’s family and legacy, as well as nostalgia for the collaboration once shared with his former bandmate. 

Consequently, George helped Tom’s widow to grant permission to share this video with the world. Guernsey Music was born, setting the stage for a revival of Tom’s music. While the creative torch handed from Tom to myself has burned over twelve years since his passing, George has sought to ensure that the torch is not extinguished. Tom once directed the music videos that I produced for him. I am now honored to direct in his stead with the full support of George Daly. 

The actors consist of the beautiful dancing phenomenon Theresa Hanson, a talent who has graced Portland’s thriving burlesque shows with flair and pizzazz, coupled with music composer Eric Schopmeyer. Eric, who dons the wry moniker DJ Powerless, operates hand-cranked phonographs at social gatherings when he is not teaching music theory. (See the film for one dream-like example!) 

The video opens in an atmospheric prelude. The dreamy and ethereal elements along the protagonist’s walk inspire a sort of reverie. Once the needle hits the vinyl, the setting transforms into the grounds of a historic mansion, one incidentally once used as the Lebanese consulate in Portland, Oregon. The reclusive locale is a remnant of the gilded age; it is the last glimmer of the Roaring Twenties before the cataclysmic Great Depression. This is an exclusive glimpse into a monument from a bygone era and, as an aside, it is now in the hands of one of Portland’s premiere restoration experts after years of neglect: 

In summary, this project renews attention to the growing US and world reputation of Tom Guernsey’s musical legacy. Music wrapped in a sublime, chivalric, and passionate romance. Concurrently, by way of an exotic location, it is a celebration of a Portland landmark imbued with imagination and intrigue. It’s a love story at its core, in service to several beautiful things. Watch and see. 

Without further ado, I encourage the viewer to view this film and behold the music of Tom Guernsey in a spirited, visual translation. The Girl Who Faded Away.

My filmmaking journey began in childhood with a Minolta Super 8mm camera and a Kodak Presstape splicer. That underlying drive to make moving images that evoke emotions became a lifelong pursuit to elevate people through storytelling that aspires to entertain thoughtfully. 

I attended the American University in Washington D.C. During my freshman year, I made a supernatural-themed short film featuring Sara, the future class valedictorian. This project received top billing at the Media Festival. I considered this a good omen, and it was. 

Returning to Portland, Oregon, I subsequently won a “Best of the Northwest Judges Choice” from the Alliance for Community Media for my indie feature “Twilight Man.” Willamette Week critic David Walker highlighted the editing techniques that I used to evoke the lead character's maturation and enlightenment. 

Mr. Walker's encouragement helped me to focus my attention on further editorial work. Beginning at the ad agency Euro RSCG 4D DRTV, I shot and edited Allstate's “Keep the Drive” campaign with several actors speaking on the face of a driver's license to relay a message of safe driving. 

At the production studio Digital Wave, I shot and edited a nonprofit documentary for the Community Transitional School subsidized by Oprah Winfrey. This school for children from unhoused families continues to provide vital education and health services for our most vulnerable citizens in Portland, Oregon, very satisfying work. 

I then teamed up with songwriter and musician Tom Guernsey to bring his one hit wonder story to a wider audience, even as he suffered from the debilitating setbacks of ALS. Our collaboration had highlights such as cameos by Nils Lofgren of the E Street Band, as well as Mike Clark, founder of Portland’s famed Movie Madness shop. 

I moved on to editorial work at the boutique animation studio Bent Image Lab. Working under the guidance of award winning director Chel White, I helped to bolster the company's presence in the film community through animated segments for features, commercials, and social media. Behind the scenes edits for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The 4-D Experience and David Oyelowo's directorial debut “The Water Man” are Blu-Ray special features. Recognition for one company reel appeared on Meanwhile, my post production work on Mr. White's memoir segment for Academy Award Winner Joan Gratz played at the opening night of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. 

I also produce videos for the Preservation Artisans Guild, shedding light on members of the historic preservation community and their so valuable artist efforts. These shorts spotlight the craftsmanship of Portland's most talented artist in regards to maintaining our heritage and knowledge of the present and the past.

Key Cast

Theresa Hanson, Eric Schopmeyer

Other Credits

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