This camera is totally famous.
About a month ago, Katie and I were approached by a stranger on our block in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn—something we’ve been warned about since childhood. But this stranger seemed nice enough, smiling and pronouncing words like ‘bag’ and ‘bagel’ in that strange, familiar manner that gave him away as mid-westerner, thus likely wildly friendly and well-mannered.
I’ll be honest, we were somewhat disappointed when we realized he wasn’t there to offer us a bag of bagels but, instead, to ask if we’d be involved in this new movie-making project he was starting up. And our initial reaction was ‘No way, dude, we’ve got no time to do that at all, we’re way too busy, never never never.’ Though we then realized that’s a tough point to argue when you’re sitting on your stoop drinking wine. So we reluctantly agreed to go to this planning meeting, thinking, at most, we could help out with titles or something, throwing our graphic design skills into the mix.
Fast-forward three weeks and the two of us have gone through four script-writing revisions and somehow ended up signing on as co-directors of a short film. Damn you mid-westerners and your coaxing ways!
The project in question is On My Block—”a film challenge that brings communities closer together by inviting filmmakers of all levels to create short narrative or documentary videos on their block using only their block’s residents as cast and crew”—and the mid-westerner who started it with his friend and just happens to live on our block is Ryan O’Hara Theisen, who, it turns out, is not only super-nice, but also super-talented.
Leaning extremely heavily on his skill and experience, and cultivating what ended up being a nearly limitless pool of talent and energy on the tiny stretch of Brooklyn on Union Street between Henry + Clinton, Katie and I created our first movie and—if you don’t mind a little bit of self-congratulatory prose, Reader—we’re pretty proud of it.
The movie short, which will act as a kind of ‘seeder’ film for the city-wide competition to encourage excitement for and interest in the project, can be seen below and over at the On My Block site, where you can also see the other films that have been completed. If you’re a New Yorker, you can also sign up on the site to create your own film with your neighbors. Films just have to be completed before the end of October and involve cast + crew from your block. Full rules and eligibility details can be found here.
If you have even the slightest interest in making a film though, we need to take this opportunity to highly highly highly recommend it. Not only is this a great opportunity to do something that you likely don’t do on a daily basis, it also allows you to meet your neighbors. Katie and I didn’t know a single person involved in this project—all of whom lived mere feet from our front door!—and we walked away from all of this with a bunch of new friends and a feeling that we were even more rooted in this community that we love.
To further prove our point, we’ll be posting interviews all week with just some of the people we met making Free Camera, from Ryan, the project-co-creator himself, to an exhibition designer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to a political/non-profit superstar who worked the 2008 Obama campaign, to the former owner of a classic SoHo experimental music venue. We had no idea so many awesome people lived right next door to us and are infinitely happy this project gave us an excuse to meet them all. Plus now we never have to leave the block to party!
Check out the movie and get involved yourself!