Student in Portland adds vision to song about human trafficking

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PORTLAND — When it comes to music videos, you probably don’t expect a high school senior to be a major creative force in production.

But that’s exactly what Waynflete School student Mike Rodway, 18, was for a national recording artist’s song about human trafficking.

Rodway said he didn’t know much about human trafficking before making the video, but learned with help from Detective Steve Webster of the South Portland Police Department.

“I had a general idea what it was, but I had no idea it happened in Portland or that it even happened in Maine,” Rodway, who lives in Falmouth, said.

The video for Steve Azar‘s “The Sky is Falling,” which debuted on Jan. 7, was shot completely in Portland and has a minimal cast of Rodway’s girlfriend as the main character, and the daughter of another South Portland detective as the younger version of the main character. Rodway used all his own equipment to make the video and didn’t earn anything for it.

Rodway said the video took nearly 10 weeks to complete, with pre-production beginning in October and filming over two weekends in November. After that, Rodway began editing. He said he would send drafts to both Webster and Azar for feedback, before finishing it in early January.

Rodway said he was approached by Webster, who knows Azar, to do the project after he finished filming a different project at the South Portland Police Department. Rodway listened to a bare-bones version of the song, and then he and Webster brainstormed ideas for the video.

There are three parts to the video, Rodway said, a beginning that shows the girl as homeless and struggling, a middle where the girl is a prostitute, and an uplifting ending.

“Because in a lot of these cases there’s not always a happy ending, but there can be and there can be hope, and that’s the message we’re trying to show, that there is hope,” Rodway said.

Rodway said a major challenge was “trying to make it as real and personal as possible,” without creating a “cliche” character. To do this, he spoke with Webster about the personalities of victims of human trafficking.

“And after talking to him for a while I sat down with my actress and said I just want you to be struggling and the motivation is you don’t have an option, but you still have to do it,” Rodway said.

He said the message he wants people to take away from the video “is that it’s happening.”

“It’s a current thing, it’s relevant, it happens in Portland, Maine, it happens in your community,” he said.

Rodway said this was the biggest project he has worked on, and he builds off all his other projects to get better and “more professional.” He said he has been making short films since he was in middle school, and wants to continue with film through college. He said his top school choice is New York University.

“I feel good knowing what I want to do, and hopefully that won’t change,” he said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Waynflete School student Mike Rodway, 18, of Falmouth, recently completed a music video for national recording artist Steve Azar’s song “The Sky is Falling,” which tries to raise awareness about human trafficking.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.