Monday, September 8, 2008

(Excerpts from a longer interview)

I’m 21 years old and just graduated from New York University! I majored in Film & Television at the Tisch School of the Arts. I live near Myrtle Avenue and St. Edwards Street in Ingersol Houses.

How long have you lived here? Eleven years. Before that we lived in Bushwick in a house, which was really different than public housing. I was born in the Dominican Republic.

What was it like going to NYU Film School? There were maybe 20 or 30 of us – students of color – out of a 1,000. This is New York City, right? It was really overwhelming to find so many of one type of people at Tisch. Even though we were all in the art field, they really couldn’t relate to where I come from. I worked 20-30 hrs a week while going to school full-time. I didn’t respect a lot of the people because I felt they were there because their parents were like, “Go to school”. They did not respect the work. But they had all the budget to shoot longer, more complicated films.

What was it like when you moved into Fort Greene public housing? I had come from a neighborhood where the houses were colorful – whitish, yellow, pink and purple! You could have imagination there. When I first came to Fort Greene public housing it was like, “Ughhh! Where am I?!” It was old prison like. Like a graveyard. Through the Police Explorers program I started being involved in the community and knowing what was going on. That’s how I met you and Brooklyn Young Filmmakers.

Are there a lot of kids in public housing? Oh yeah. There’s 6 stories in my building, maybe 30 – 40 apartments. Most people have kids, and maybe 2 to 3 kids per apartment. But I don’t see things advertised for kids or families.

What’s the current atmosphere like in public housing? With all the new development coming up in Fort Greene, people are feeling out of the loop. It’s kinda weird because it feels like new people are taking over the neighborhood, but slowly and quietly. We are set apart. To be honest, it is hard to tell people that I live in public housing. People react as if it is a negative and like somehow I’m suddenly less. After I got that reaction too many times, I started kinda not saying I was from the developments.

Do you go to the small shops and restaurants on Dekalb and Fulton? To Target and Pathmark and the shopping center. I don’t know about the shops in-between. I do go to BAM because of the range of art films that are screened. I love Juniors Restaurant and go there often. I eat out in Park Slope and Soho, but I don’t eat out at any other places in Fort Greene. I really haven’t been exposed to things here.

What kind of publicity do you think public housing gets? Oh, the bad stuff only. The crimes, people getting shot, kids and drugs. There is no communication in the developments or with the neighborhood about the talents, the gifts, and the true spirit of people in the developments. I’m sure there are other people like me, but how would we know.

What do you think about Brooklyn Young Filmmakers concept of “Community Filmmaking”? Do you think many people in public housing would be interested? Yes, definitely. When Brooklyn Young Filmmakers executive produced BACK STREETS, my senior thesis film project, you helped us recruit kids from the Whitman Community Center to be extras. When the kids and their parents came to work on the shoot I think they felt like, wow! People know there’s a big movie studio in our neighborhood and there’s 40 Acres, but this haven’t made filmmaking more accessible for the average person. BYFC wants to bring together people of all classes, races, and ages and have them communicate doing something creative. It could possibly save the lives of those who don’t think they have anything to offer. Maybe my part of the neighborhood won’t get just all that negative feedback. Maybe all the positive things that are not known will be seen. I wish I had this available to me when I was younger – something creative happening right here in the developments. I think it would have helped me with my vision of both the developments and Fort Greene.

What do you think about our doing “Neighbor Sketches”? I think it’s great. Maybe people will find out that people who seem strange to them care about some of the same things.

DAYSI’S FAVORITES: Song: “Everything” by Lifehouse / Movie: PAN’S LABYRINTH / TV Program: The Office / Book: A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren / Magazine: The New Yorker / Newspaper: The New York Times / Food: Salmon (I can eat it for breakfast!) / Game: Dance Dance Revolution (Play Station) / Superhero: Batman / Article of Clothing: Jeans, nice blouses, and flats / Colors: Blue & Green

Click for full interview.

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