“I knew that I was working with a really dynamic group of volunteers but it was not til last night – when many of us met for the first time – that the depth of what we were participating in sunk in,” said Rachel Farnham, the press director for On My Block Films.
The inaugural year of the project was an interesting and new twist on community filmmaking. It’s not a festival, but a “film challenge that brings communities closer together by inviting filmmakers of all levels to create short narrative or documentary videos of their block using only their block’s residents as cast and crew.”
The concept was developed by founders Ryan O’Hara Theisen (whose work with Lucky Branded Entertainment we’ve seen before) and Mary Crosse, both filmmakers, who realized that though they lived in close proximity to many interesting folks right on their block, they struggled to engage neighbors to say more than just a passing hello. On My Block Films was born to create instant community through the filmmaking process, which brought forth 16 films made by teams of residents on blocks all of the city. They screened the five minute shorts at White Wave in Dumbo on November 14.
“The screening sold out the night before, and night of every seat was filled and people stood to watch where they could,” Rachel continued. “I had the chance to interview guests, judges and filmmakers and ALL had encouraging, positive comments on how being apart of this process has made them consider and appreciate their neighbors and block. Every single person I talked to said that they know OMB will reach more blocks next year. Many hope that the challenge happens more than once per year and in more cities.”
The big winner of the night, taking Best Documentary and Best in Show, was made on Snyder Avenue between 31st and 32nd streets in Flatbush. Directed and edited by Andrew Thomas, BIKES & BEATS stars resident Quentin Jean and explores the creative similarities between bike street riding and music production. Neighbors Chaz Taylor and Orin Thomas served as production assistants.
Best Narrative went to a bunch of cute shaggy-haired kids starring in Le Petit Fairytale – made on Union Street between Henry and Clinton Streets in Carroll Gardens – where two brothers get inspired by a mysterious girl and their adventure on their block together.
These Vimeo shorts are already popping up on web searches as related to their physical block, creating a whole new way of connecting people with dynamic local content. We’re excited to see more shorts from this dynamic local non-profit.
BIKES & BEATS
Le Petit Fairytale
Check out our slideshow of the winners and head over to On My Block’s page to watch all the entries.