Michael Faulkner, is a first-time director of the film "ShuDe!" featuring local vocalist Shodekeh. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)

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Michael Faulkner, 45, filmmaker


Still photography had long been Michael Faulkner's hobby. But that was before he heard that Baltimore beatboxer and vocal percussionist extraordinaire Shodekeh was heading to the Siberian region of Tuva, home to a tradition of throat-singing, called Khoomei, that involves singing two or more pitches simultaneously and really has to be heard to be believed.

Going along to just take photographs, or even make some rough sound recordings, wouldn't cut it, Faulkner knew. It was time to make those filmmaker dreams he'd been nursing for so long become real.

"It was just going to be me and maybe one camera," the Charles Village resident says. "The more I started talking about it with friends, I just thought, 'You know what? Let's go for it. You've got to have great sound, get great images.'

"I guess you could say I saw this amazing opportunity to put, like, a visual amplification — is that a thing? — on what he does, and what they do."

Michael R. Faulkner, 45, a Baltimore filmmaker who directed "ShuDe!," about local beatbox artist Shodekeh.
Michael R. Faulkner, 45, a Baltimore filmmaker who directed "ShuDe!," about local beatbox artist Shodekeh. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

The resulting film, "Shu-De!" – Tuvan for "Let's go!" — was one of the crowd favorites at May's 18th Maryland Film festival, where it had its East Coast premiere (its world premiere was a few weeks earlier, at the Nashville Film Festival). Its mix of local interest and exotic locales, not to mention its haunting melodies, proved a crowd-pleaser of the first order. It's since screened at several other festivals, and will be going on a seven-city tour in October

"It's amazing to see your work on a big screen — especially me being a cinephile, someone who loves movies and story in general," says Faulkner, a freelance location manager and film producer who moved from Kalamazoo, Mich., to Baltimore in 1998. "I was really happy to notice — it's a real movie. It's there; it stands up on the big screen."

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Getting into the Maryland festival was a real hometown-boy-makes-good story for Faulkner. Not only does he live in Baltimore, but one of his first jobs here was helping out with 1999's inaugural Maryland Film Festival. He's continued working for it as a freelance photographer.

Festival director Jed Dietz, who assiduously avoids giving preferential treatment to local films or filmmakers in programming the annual event, is quick to praise Faulkner's work. It documents "a very profound cross-cultural export and relationship, in this case through music," he says.

His first documentary behind him, Faulkner is working as a producer on another local project, a documentary from director Holden Warren exploring Baltimore's arabber tradition. And he's putting the final touches on his own second film, about a "competitive team-based karaoke league" he joined a few years back. With some luck, he says, it could be finished by the end of the year, in time for the 2017 festival.