The time has come for my first writing assignment.
It's been just over a year and a half of grinding and networking in the Los Angeles film industry. With one part preparation, one part talent, and one part being in the right place at the right time (read: luck), I have managed to land my first feature film writing assignment. Never mind that there's no money involved. Hey, we all have to start somewhere. And for the feature film formerly known as The Spanish Harlem Project, my journey started in New York.
My subject: the gentrification of Spanish Harlem. It's the neighborhood I was born in, but knew little to nothing about. As this would be my first time writing (or rather, rewriting) someone else's material, I thought an important part of this process should be immersion in the culture that birthed the story to begin with. I always have some wild tales of what state of mind lead me to write the scripts that I've written, but with this story, it was from someone else's mind. The best I could do was try to understand it by seeing for myself. Next stop, East Harlem.
Walking East Harlem, my goal was to get a feel for the culture whose heart would beat at the center of this story. And more specifically, how this culture was being systematically eradicated in favor of Chase Banks and Domino's Pizzas. "Cleaning up the neighborhood" they called it.
Overall the trip was very successful. I spoke to quite a few people who had lived in the neighborhood for generations to hear their point of view on the recent changes. It all made me rethink photojournalism as a career to be honest, but I soon got back on track.
One thing is for certain, no trip to Spanish Harlem would be complete without a meal at La Fonda Boricua, which also happens to be the backdrop of another one of my favorite photographs to date...
It's the sights you never expect that always seem to stand out the most. I couldn't have tried to go shoot this image, I just had to be there. Be there with a camera in hand. And to that my friends, I say, "Stay strapped."
Now back to LA, I've got work to do.