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in Filmmaking
on Aug 13, 2012

Designer Troy Farmer was hanging out on his Brooklyn block one day recently when he and his friend were approached by a stranger. The stranger wondered, would Farmer like to be part of a film crew? “Our initial reaction was ‘No way, dude, we’ve got no time to do that at all, we’re way too busy, never never never,'” Farmer remembers on his blog. “Though we then realized that’s a tough point to argue when you’re sitting on your stoop drinking wine. So we reluctantly agreed to go to this planning meeting, thinking, at most, we could help out with titles or something, throwing our graphic design skills into the mix.”

What resulted was a short film Farmer calls “a seeder film” for the larger enterprise in question, On My Block Films. Launched by that stranger, filmmaker Ryan O’Hara Theisen, along with executive producer Mary Crosse, the project turns filmmaking into a social challenge where the participants are your own neighbors.

From the OMB site:

Although we live in a city of over 8 million people, a lot of us don’t even know our neighbors. When you’re not connected to the people living on the other side of the wall, it’s hard to have any sense of belonging within a community. “On My Block” creates an opportunity for neighbors to introduce themselves, work together, and create trusting relationships through the collaborative filmmaking process. The films created will live on past the festival window as a source for community pride and as a living map of the world’s most creative city.

OMB encourages novice as well as professional filmmakers to participate. Our goal is to capture a wide spectrum of blocks throughout the five boroughs.

Accompanying the On My Block challenge is a set of Dogme-like rules, dictating things like crew size (a minimum of four, and two can be people from off the block), length (one to five minutes), and location restrictions (“Films that use footage outside of the block are not eligible”). Finished films are submitted to On My Block, and then, once approved, uploaded to Vimeo. There’s public voting, and then the top 15 films will be screened at an event in November. Visit the website for more, and check out the videos below. The first is Theisen’s introduction to the project. The second is “Free Camera,” the film that resulted from Farmer’s run-in with Theisen on the street that day.

Free Camera from On My Block Films on Vimeo.

Introduction to On My Block Films from On My Block Films on Vimeo.

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