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48 Hour Film Project: NYC

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I am staring at the clock. It’s 3:23 AM. Traffic is moving in a very specific rhythm outside. I watch as lights cast shadows through my friend’s living room, and I restlessly try to catch some shut eye. I close my eyes, but like a kid waiting for her birthday, I can’t fall asleep. I’m too anxious. I’m too excited for what’s ahead. We are only eight hours into the 48 Hour Film Project (NYC), a competition that asks groups of filmmakers to create a 4-7 minute short film in under 48 hours. Filmmaking. THIS is the HOBBY and CAREER I moved to New York City for. And while I’ve done much of my own filmmaking and video work–I’ve never ever taken part in a film competition. This is what we call: Awesome. As I open my eyes again and stare at the ceiling, I can feel my excitement only growing with each echo of each car that passes under the bridge outside. We’ve finished our our script, we’ve plotted our shot list, and in three hours we are going to wake up to shoot a movie. And all I am thinking in my head is “Hell. Freaking. Yah.”

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It can be very lonely in New York City–especially when you first move here.

 I moved to New York City in January of 2010, and I can remember, very vividly, two months into my move, walking out of my internship, calling my best friend on the phone, and crying to her for an hour about how lonely I was–how I didn’t know if I could make it here–how I wanted desperately to be able to make friends who were creative, who were ready to collaborate, who were passionate, who were looking to make things happen–BIG things–earth shaking things-friends who were ready to take on the world as if it were Mount Everest and fight hard earned battles to make it to the top.

What I’ve learned from that loneliness is a lesson in persistence, and in patience, and in passion.

I realized that I couldn’t make these friends that I was seemingly struggling to find if I didn’t put myself out there, if I didn’t take an initiative to start and to create myself. This city is comprised of 8 million people–I can’t break down the stats for you on where they are all from–or how they all got here, but I can safely say that many of these people are searching for a light in a tunnel that leads to success–a light in a tunnel that may perhaps lead to a Broadway Stage, or a credit on a feature film; a light in a tunnel that may lead to a sold out concert at SummerStage or a part in Shakespeare in the Park; a light in a tunnel that leads to a metaphorical pot of gold symbolizing that all dreams did indeed come true.

I knew that within those eight million people, amidst all of the skyscrapers, all of the Broadway shows, and all of the chaos of the city that these people were out there. I just had to be very clear that I too was one of these dreamers.

And then it happened.

I made a good friend through my internship, who could see my passion and my drive as I shared my latest projects and or films with her. She could also see my willingness to put myself out there and to openly express my interest in “making it” in order, not to be famous, but rather to make an impact on another person’s life.  And so she introduced me to many of her friends in the Big Apple.

She, herself, was a young makeup artist who was working on TV shows and movies. And her friends? Young cooks, young  chefs, young musicians, young actors, young filmmakers, young producers, young directors, young writers, younger performers, young singers. Most of them worked shifts at Ruby Tuesdays to pay the bills. But what stood out more than anything to me, was that like me–they were all dreamers. And they still are.

Since that first year of living in New York City, I have maintained many of the friendships I have made with these friends. And I am proud of that. I have seen each of them do amazing work. I’ve seen dreams transition to realities–and I’ve seen passion and persistence and patience, all the things I needed in order to make these friends, play out in extremely rewarding ways.

Our conversations extend from general “How are yous?” to endless banter, debates and smiles over all things creative.

“You liked that movie? But it didn’t have this, this or this….” and “But his acting in this was far superior to his acting in…” “I just think he should have never made that film.”

I always wondered when I’d get the chance to sit down and work with some of the people I connected with when I first moved here.

That answer was this weekend, for the 48 Hour Film Project, in which a team of 14 of us, organized by my good friend Kim, took on the aforementioned challenge to create a 4-7 minute film in just 48 hours.

On that team were  6 individuals from that initial group of friends that I forged friendships with founded on a common love of film, television, and theatre. On that team were also 7 individuals that I had never had the pleasure to meet before–but who I can’t imagine not surrounding myself with again.

Each team must enter with a team name, and when the festival kicks off each team must select at random a genre. After the genre is chosen, EVERY team must then make sure that they include three specific details within their film: a specific character, a prop, and a line (Genres differ but specific details remain consistent for all teams). All of this is noted here.

Our Team: Ruby Squared Productions
Our Genre: Dark Comedy
Character: Cat or Cam Dean–an ad executive
Prop: Trophy
Line: When do you expect her?

In less than 48 hours, we scripted, we crafted, we envisioned, we executed, we edited, we composed, we exported, and we delivered a 6:30 minute dark comic film; a 6:30 minute film that gave us all a little reminder why we came to New York, why that patience and persistence in pursuing our passions mattered and what we are truly capable of when we take on a challenge and attack it together, and lastly a little reminder what happens when the talking stops and the making of films starts: Magic.

In his book, Here is New York, E.B White writes: “There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.”

Here’s to the settlers that I had the brilliant opportunity to work with this past weekend:
Alex Zingaro, Brandon Jacobs, Brandon Opel, Brandon Pro, Chris Grady, Kimberly DiPersia, MaryLynn Suchan, Matt Van Vorst, Megan Magee, Nate Smith, Robert DeSanti, Sean Gallagher, and Shannon Kendall.

And here’s to being patient, persistent, and passionate.

Here are some stills of the production process:

IMG_1779Photo Credit Megan Magee

IMG_1796Photo Credit Megan Magee

IMG_1792Photo Credit Megan Magee

sound Photo Credit MaryLynn Suchan

PreproPhoto Credit MaryLynn Suchan


RoofPhoto Credit MaryLynn Suchan

AND basically how we all felt after:

mattPhoto Credit Shannon Kendall

Happiness

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“If you want to view paradise–simply look around and view it
anything you want to–do it!
want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.
There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.”

The Willy Wonka words echo off my computer as I awake on Saturday morning. However, in my head, I am changing the words–I am swapping out paradise, and slotting in Happiness. Because if you want to view happiness–I believe we can all look around and view it.

And Saturday, I was going to make sure of it.

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As I wake up, on Saturday, I say to myself, “Today–is an important day. Today, I am completing my 52nd hobby.” For anyone who has been following along, you’ll know that my original goal for this project turned lifestyle was to try 52 new hobbies in 52 weeks. About two months ago that goal changed–My new plan is to finish at least one hobby a week for 52 weeks, ending with a road trip across the country in February. But that doesn’t mean my 52nd hobby isn’t a significant one. In fact, it’s one of the ones that means the most to me–because it’s a sign of achievement–even if my new goal is to exceed it.

“Anything you want to, do it” plays through my speakers, and I smile.

“Today I am going to complete my 52nd hobby,” I breathe of relief.

***Never doubt a dream, always move forward…Like the song says…
Anything you want to do…Do it.***

But though my excitement for hobby 52 is high on Saturday, my will to go out and do it is quickly hampered as I wake up and see that it’s cold–and gray–but not just cold and gray–it’s pretty much a frigid apocalypse outside with gusting winds up to 50mph and snow flurries pleasantly beginning to fall. I struggle. It would be the perfect day to stay in bed–all day, to get dressed at 5pm and eat cereal for all three meals in my pajamas. But I had made a plan–and that plan included to complete my 52nd hobby, by traveling to each of the five boroughs and chalking the word happiness. I groggily got out of bed and decided that this was better than chalking happiness when the weather is perfect–because in the case of clear skies, people are likely to already feel happier. This was my time to spread happiness–even if the weather was threatening otherwise.

It took me no more than 7 hours to complete my trip to each borough and tattoo the word happiness into the sidewalk of each.

It took me no more than 7 hours to etch happiness right outside my doorstep in Brooklyn. It took me no more than 7 hours to experience the excitement of families going on the Staten Island Ferry and having an amazing view of Manhattan. It took me no more than 7 hours to witness the wealth of joy outside the doorstep of my favorite chocolate shop in Manhattan, as a homeless man approached me and thanked me for the happiness.It took me no more than 7 hours to clear my negative image of the Bronx and leave a positive message behind. And it took me no more than 7 hours to make my way to Queens and chalk happiness into a park that I once danced happiness into–just two years ago.

The truth was–that in each borough– It took me no more than moments to see that even though I was physically spreading the word happiness–it was all around me. It was in the faces of children who’d never been on a boat. It was in the faces of those who told me they had nothing but still felt joy. It was in the faces of those walking through streets of the Bronx—and it was in the faceof the child who stood up on the subway seat and peered out the window on an above ground train heading to Queens. It was in the taxi driver who got me from downtown Manhattan to Grand Central. It was in the cappuccino that I drank mid-morning. It was in the face of the man with his child who strolled past me on Fordham Road. It was in the skateboarders who skated through the park while I finished my last borough tattoo. Happiness was truly–everywhere.

And what I learned most about happiness–aside from where to find it (ahem, again, everywhere): was that much like my chalked out versions of the word: Happiness doesn’t always come in a straight line–in one swoop–or even in one size–but it always, always feels good.

Here’s to 52 hobbies–and many, many more. and here is to happiness. Cheers.

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Donate! Volunteer! Help!

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A special message from The Hobby Hoarder during these tough times:

I can see the Empire State Building from the front door of my apartment building in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The lights are shining bright. Whether the lights to the south or the north of it are on–on any given night–I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But this past week I know that for a good portion of time, most of the lights south of the Empire State Building were off. And even still, now, many of the lights in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, the state of New Jersey, and across the Harbor in Staten Island are off.

My family and friends in Pennsylvania spent days in hotels, office buildings, and at bars huddling for phone charges and heat. My professors and friends in Rhode Island watched as the Atlantic Ocean hurdled over the Narragansett Wall creating rivers on main roads, knocking out power to many, and destroying one of the city’s most popular restaurants–the Coast Guard House. Kids were off from schools–hospitals were evacuated–subway tunnels were flooded– the coast of Jersey was completely destroyed, and worse of all–lives were taken.

As we all know, Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast leaving many states powerless and many residents homeless.

Up until today, all the devastation I knew was what I saw in photos–through Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook.

I spent the week working from home, feeling selfish that I wasn’t on the front line helping people–that I wasn’t there putting together recovery packages for strangers–that I wasn’t helping. I realized very quickly that even if I wanted to be on the front line–my help would be exhausted shortly as my strength is not in my arms, but rather in my voice.

When the power went out, for most, on Monday evening, all they saw was darkness. They lost the ability to watch thew news–to follow Tweets–or to get Facebook updates. I kept power–and instead of sleeping, I stayed connected. I followed Twitter until my eyes dimmed, and then early in the morning, I texted my friends who I knew had lost power to see if they were alright. By the middle of the day I had heard from many New Yorkers, and several hometown friends in Pennsylvania. “Can you just update me–I have no idea what happened after it went dark.” “Are the trains going to be able to run?” “What happened?” “When will my power come back?” “How bad was it?” My strength was now my ability to accurately relay messages to them from various news sources including New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Morning Call, and the Daily News.

I found myself Tweeting updates–Facebooking the latest breaking news–and realizing that even if I couldn’t be out there in the Far Rockaways where homes had burned down–even if I couldn’t be in Staten Island–even if I couldn’t be in the basement of someone’s home emptying out water–I could be making a difference . I could be informing people.

So I continued informing people, looked for more ways to help, donated food and supplies to the Far Rockaways via friends with cars, and woke up this morning with one mission: Find a way to get out there.

I read through my email of countless volunteer opportunities to see which one I could get to by bike, foot, or limited public transit. Staten Island had a call for helpers in several areas, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach many of them without a car–and that I likely wasn’t strong enough for many of the things people needed. And then one popped out to me:

10:30AM: NORTH SHORE. Go door-to-door distributing helpful information about warming centers, power stations and recovery to North Shore neighborhoods still without power. Spanish speaking a plus. LOCATION: State Senator Diane Savino’s office, 36 Richmond Terrace right across from the Staten Island Ferry. RSVP tokmotley@pubadvocate.nyc.gov

I re-read the post. “Go door-to-door distributing helpful information.”

‘I can do that,’ I thought, and so I RSVP’ed right away. Soon after, Piers Morgan ReTweeted a photo by Stephanie Gosk from NBC of herds of New York Marathoners making their way onto the Staten Island Ferry–not to run their race, but to run to places that needed help. If these people were going to run 5-7 miles to the underside of the Island–I could sure as hell get myself, somehow, someway to the Staten Island Ferry and walk across the street, to do what I do best–Give information. A walk, a cab, a train, a cab, and a ferry ride later I was sitting in an office at 36 Richmond Terrace preparing to head out to neighborhoods that had been without power for days.

I realized in this moment–that a little help–goes a long way. As the temperature dips to close to freezing tonight, many people not only in Staten Island, but around the tri-state area, and points further north will continue to live without power–without heat. The information we passed around today informed members of the Staten Island community where they could go for shelter or warming centers. The information we passed along today–could save someone’s life.

I don’t like to preach. I’m more of “an inspire by doing” type person. But in this case. I don’t mind preaching a bit: A dollar you give–a minute you give–an hour you give- a day that you give–blood that you give–could save someone’s life.  Many shelters in New York City are turning away volunteers BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY. This is a GOOD–no–GREAT thing. It means plenty of hands are on deck to help.  Maybe you aren’t into knocking on people’s doors and distributing info, maybe all the shelters are filled to capacity with volunteers, and maybe you don’t have the strength to carry packages of bottled water–but there is always a way to help–and always someone in need.

Oh and P.S. Cause I am a bit of a hippie. Don’t forget about Love. Keep Loving.

To my friends in New York City–My friends in New Jersey–My family and friends in Pennsylvania–and my Professors and friends in Rhode Island–and all those along the East Coast–This one’s for you. 
Check out these places for more opportunities to aid in Hurricane Sandy Relief
 Red Cross
 WNYC
 Brokelyn 
 Life Vest Inside
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“The Resilient Ones”:

“New Yorkers are resilient. They’ve seen the lights go out on Broadway. They’ve experienced bombs rumble under ground. They’ve watched their iconic buildings collapsed. And each time they’ve risen to the occasion to come back—to reassemble—to regain their composure—to help a neighbor—or a friend—or the elderly—or a child. New York is filled with people who fight battles every day to survive metaphorical storms. And today, with this very real aftermath of a devastating storm—New York is still filled with those people—those same resilient people. And I know we’ll all get through this, together. New York City is our home–and it’s not going anywhere–and neither are we.”
-The Resilient Ones
Publishes on Libs on the Reel and One for the Table

Chasing Mavericks

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I wasn’t supposed to be there–at the Far Rockaways. I wasn’t supposed to be doing a hobby at all that day. If this were still just a “project” –and not what I now deem a lifestyle–I would have fulfilled my quote with shark diving at the beginning of the week. But that’s not the case. I had booked two hobbies for the week–and I couldn’t have been more excited. However, I wasn’t supposed to be double hobbying with surfing–I was supposed to be in Pennsylvania–jumping out of a plane.

Less than 24 hours before my scheduled skydive, I received a call that my trip was postponed due to low clouds. It only took me several moments to visit a surf school website in New York, text the owner, and sign up for a class. I didn’t need to replace skydiving–but I felt compelled to.

Sometimes when one cloud covers–another wave of opportunity will present itself–quite literally–and metaphorically here, of course.

I admit—while putting my wetsuit on (initially backwards), I questioned if this was a bad idea–if just signing up for a surf lesson without thinking was really something I should have done. For a couple minutes–I decided it wasn’t. And then for a couple more minutes–I still believed it wasn’t. I wasn’t sure I would even have the courage to walk into the water–but I didn’t have a choice. After a brief sand lesson, our instructor had us stepping into the frigid waters of the Atlantic with the boards in hand.

And not before long I was getting pummeled by waves.

I should preface this by saying that I am terrified of ocean water–I see going into it as an unfair heavyweight battle where the little guy is well below the size of the big guy–and the knockout comes quickly–almost instantly. When I was little, a life guard saved me from the under-toe on some family vacation which paralyzed any positive thoughts I could have about ocean water and what could happen if I went in. During a trip to Bermuda, my mind was changed briefly as the water’s beauty and delicacy seduced me. But upon returning to the East Coast waters, my fears began to loom again.

After the first wave knocked me down on Saturday, I regained my composure, briefly, and I declared the ocean the champion. And instead of raising an arm in victory–it knocked me out again.

I cleared the hair from my face, and said a myriad of things to myself, “Well this was not my best idea.” “I should probably leave the water now.” “I should be jumping out of a plane today–not getting my ass kicked by some personified piece of nature.” Yet, I continued walking out to my instructor who was positive that after a few minutes of learning to stand on the board–on the sand–I’d be able to make progress on the water.

“Hop on that board.”

“Now?!”

He laughed at me.

Silly me–he meant just get on and lay down–not HOP. And of course he meant now. I struggled to get on the board, but after a second try I was up.

“Okay, now sit.”

So like a trained pup, I sat.

“Good. Now lay on that board. Move back a few inches. What’s going to happen is I am going to tell you to paddle…then I’ll push the board forward, and yell “Up.” When I yell up, You stand.”

“Easy,” I said, thinking to myself that I was more likely bound to go face first into the sand at the ocean bottom.

“Paddle, Paddle, Paddle…..” commanded Joel.

I rushed to paddle. But I didn’t know how fast or how slow I should be paddling. What if I didn’t get enough speed? But before I had time to readjust any of this, Joel yelled, “Up,” and I attempted to push myself to my feet.

BAM

Knocked out.

I covered my head so that if the board went flying it wouldn’t truly knock me out. I stayed underwater a second more, and resurfaced  before another wave crashed into me, and another one–and another one. And then finally, I found my balance, and realized that throughout those continuous wipeouts–something had happened. I had lost my fear. I was still here. I was still breathing. And I had gotten back up on my own. Bonus point for overcoming fear.

Even still, the ocean was now ahead of me by a score of at least 6 Hits.

Ocean 6: Libs: 1

I had a major comeback to accomplish. I stayed resilient and walked back out to Joel. “How’d that feel?”

“Really freaking good!” I exclaimed. “Nothing to be scared of. I’m really happy I tried to stand.”

Joel smiled, and pushed me out again. And as my two feet landed on the board I slipped off backwards.

Bam.

Knocked out.

Back up.

And out to Joel again.

“I’m going to get this,” I said to him.

I was set on earning more points during this battle with the Atlantic.

And then, with a magnitude of paddling, a swift push from Joel, and a command of “up,” I felt myself make it to my feet. Suddenly, it was like the rest of the water, and the beach, and the sky had disappeared–and it was just me on this foam board, flying. What was only a few mississippi seconds–felt like a beautiful lifetime.

As I surfed closer to shallow waters, I splashed off the board and was congratulated with a nose and mouthful of salt  water. When I surfaced–I fist pumped into the air, and yelled “I did it.” Joel looked at me and smiled from a distance, though I’m not sure he actually heard me with the crashing white waters. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t do this for him–or for anyone else–I did this for myself.

End of day score?

Ocean: A lot  –  Libs: Smiles

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Special Thanks
New York Surf School
surflessonsnewyork101.com

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