Dean & 6th: Money v. Community

Though the fight against the unilateral development of Atlantic Yards was lost in 2012, the people of Prospects Heights are still hanging on to their lives, their history, their community with gentrification at their gates. This documentary tries to tell their story in contrast to the story of Bruce Ratner and questionably rapid Atlantic Yards development.

As a twenty-something Park Slope resident during the Atlantic Yards groundbreaking, I witnessed the fight against the Bruce Ratner’s development plan for the ‘working class’ neighborhood surrounding the unused rail yards off Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

The media informed me that the battle had been won by the City and Forest City Ratner. While the media must operate with headlines, I was free to pursue the continuing story as a documentarian. The aftermath of the development was important to me, from the new Barclay’s Center arena to the daily lives of the local people.

To ground the documentary in the neighborhood, I chose to focus on the neighborhood around the corner of Dean St. & 6th Avenue, behind the Barclay’s. Touring the neighborhood via Google Street View and my own memories, I thought the police precinct, the fire station, and the relocated Freddy’s bar would be ideal locations to create a gritty, sense of community and conduct quick, impactful interviews.

To lend the documentary an air of authority, I contacted Norman Oder of the Atlantic Yards Report about appearing on camera. Oder is a freelance journalist with over 30 years of experience and a local authority on the Atlantic Yards project. He is one of the few (if not the only one) in the media that has continued to closely follow the development and therefore reflected the underlying motivations of the documentary.

I partnered with Evan Wu to shoot and edit the film. With a shot list in hand and a date set up with Norman Oder, we began shooting on site. Unfortunately we quickly learned the interviews with police or firemen, or shooting in their facilities would require wading through a lot of red tape. Instead we chose to focus on a bodega and a public park right on the corner of Dean and 6th to capture the local voice.

We shot over four different site visits including one at night to capture concert goers at the Barclay’s and one interviewing Norman Oder on-site on a windy day. During out shoots, I spoke to people in the community as the interviewer, while Evan was the cameraman.

Our editing process was heavily inspired by Walter Murch’s “In the Blink of a Eye”. I editing all of the footage we captured while Evan worked on appropriating content about the development to build the introduction. We both utilized the concepts Murch introduces such as being able to see as a viewer and see the emotion and velocity of specific moments, the most important of the his Rule of Six.