Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Long Hair of Death: My Binghamton Experience

As I got off of I-81 just before 11am Friday morning, a Broome County Sheriff's car zoomed right by us. We made a left and drove down Front Street, and made another left at the intersection. The rest of Front Street had been blocked off. My father and I weren't totally sure what was going on--maybe there was an accident, or a domestic disturbance. I was dropped off at the Holiday Inn, where I was annoyed by the fact that I'd left my Driver's License and Debit Card back home.

Ten minutes later, my father called me, and told me there had been a shooting, and that's what the scene was. Initially, I thought maybe it had been a singular incident.

I wended my way down Court Street, taking care of some pre-interview errands. I marvelled at what Court Street has become. A lot of the buildings that were unoccupied when I first made Are You From Bingo? were now housing restaurants, boutiques, gyms, and bars. I felt like I was seeing the progress that the interviewees were talking to me about in 2005.

Ten more minutes, and my father called again. He told me that there had been multiple shootings, possibly multiple deaths, and that it was "A really bizarre situation," and he speculated that it would make national news. Shortly after I met my camera guy, the office of Mayor Matthew Ryan called to cancelled the interview we had scheduled for 2:30.

In spite of the increasingly gruesome circumstances, my first interview went well. We touched upon the shootings that had just happened, even though I really had little idea of what the details were. Other than that, we talked about what I had planned on talking about. The person who funded my movie was the next person I interviewed, and that interview went pretty much the same way. After we finished his interview, we stuck around his office, and watched Mayor Ryan's press conference on CNN.

Tragedies aside, it was very rainy. My feet were soaking wet, and I had only one other dry pair of socks for the next day. So on top of being worried about the shootings, I had wet feet most of the day.

Later on, we got some footage at Little Venice of people watching the news. I also talked with a woman who was friends with the receptionist who dialed 911. We did a few interviews of people's thoughts on the situation, shot some footage of the media trucks, then called it a night.

Among the witnesses that were interviewed on TV was the mother of one of my interview subjects, an interview I had scheduled for Saturday. She lives across the street from the Civic Association, and that interview did not happen. I did, however, manage to shoot some B-Roll of some places that were in Bingo on Antique Row, and we shot footage of the Civic Association, as well as the media shooting reports and footage from the Civic Association.

I did manage to get two interviews in, one with a girl who manages a boutique my funder owns on Washington St., and an interview with another couple who renovated the building. The wife had a baby girl March 18th, and stayed off camera. After the people who owned the stores downstairs kicked us out, we wrapped. I told my camera guy that I'd stay in touch in regards to rescheduling.

I got back just after 8pm. Earlier today, I typed up my trip in much more intricate detail than I've written here.

The question for me is, "What now?" In all honesty, I had been doing some thinking about a sequel before this happened, but that the shooting wouldn't commence for a few years yet. Now, I'm not so sure. I definitely want to finish the DVD and finish the interviews, and I guess I'll determine what I want to do from there.

In the meantime, I'm hoping to work on the Stanley Kubrick/Jan Harlan panel from SXSW to help seperate myself from the experience (something I would've done anyway), then I'll take a look at the footage later this week. But it looks like I will have to resume the fundraiser.

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