Scarlett Wilson wins best documentary in Brooklyn: On My Blocks Neighborhood Film Challenge
Brooklyn, NEW YORK - New Bahamian filmmaker, Scarlett Wilson just won Best Documentary in the onmyblockfilms.com short film challenge. Wilson created a film based on people in the neighborhood where she lives. The short film, "Fireman's Corner" takes you into a day into the lives of members of the Crown Heights community, where she shot the film on the corner of St. Johns Place (Fireman's Corner) and Washington Avenue in Brooklyn.
What happens when you take the time to discover the hobbies and relationships of those neighbors you often see but never really seem to notice?
"It is hard to sum up in one or two sentences just how much working on this project has effected me. When I first began with this, I was not sure which direction I wanted to go. Having found out about the whole challenge within a little over a month before the due date, I knew I was not giving myself very much time," said Wilson.
Her friend Pedro lent her his 60D Canon and a microphone and she set out to make her first ever "real" short film.
She said she always saw the same group of men hanging out on Fireman's Corner. Some playing chess, one man whittling sticks and selling them from a little table in the middle of the block, a man wearing a top hat and walking with one crutch, another slyly taking sips out of a brown paper bag, a man with only one leg and several other characters hanging around. "I thought to myself 'Why not make a film about these men?' I know nothing of them and most of the time walk right past them, sometimes barely acknowledging them. Yet, these are MY neighbors."
Wilson said she realized that she waw not the only one ignoring them. "Most people, new to this quickly changing neighborhood, would do the same thing, never thinking twice to stop and check out some of the goods Roy was selling at his little table." Roy was the first man she became friends with on the block. "Roy is a special and generous human being with a huge heart who has encountered his fair share of hardships in life. He created his own little street hustle and everyone from the hood knows who he is," said Wilson.
She then walked up and introduced herself to the men and asked if she could get to know them, and that with their help she would put together a short film which would be shown in a big theatre. "Their genuine excitement and enthusiasm at being a part of something like this was overwhelming," she said.
"A few of the men are recovering addicts, living in shelters and disabled, yet they are outside together everyday, bonding, telling jokes, sharing food and sharing stories (with of course the occasional arguments). There is always some sort of drama, or natural performance taking place amongst these men and their everyday lives. It was an honor and great privilege to get to know them, to be treated with respect and encouragement and to be considered a part of their crew. It was important to us to take the focus off of gentrification and their hardships. I just wanted it to be a simple observation of some of the people we see everyday in our neighborhoods but oftentimes don't REALLY notice."
The young filmmaker who grew up in Grand Bahama Island said that during editing her eyes would often well up with tears. "I have learned so much from these men and we have now added to each others' lives. It was quite a challenge to make a film only 3.5 minutes long as I had so many details to try and fit in."
Wilson said she was inspired to see how many talented people there are right down her street, and for that moment in time she was able to relate to their talents, struggles and hopes. "I am happy my neighbors were able to see me working on this film, and to help out, and see the possibilities of film, acting and creation as an actual job or career. We were able to plan future projects and discuss possible future films."
"Making this film has been a remarkable journey and an unforgettable opportunity to form lasting friendships with my neighbors in such a short period of time. Although I was able to impress my friends and family, more importantly I created a film in which these men can be proud to be who they are."
Watch her video here: https://vimeo.com/78036033
CAST & CREW:
Carlito Santiago (Neighbor) Pedro Labriosa (Non-Block Resident) Roy Douglas (Non-Block Resident) Walter Love (Neighbor) Ralph Campbell (Neighbor) Carlito Santiago (Neighbor)
Producer / Editor Scarlett Wilson (Neighbor)