The Tenant

Project Type: Film & Video, Storytelling

The assignment was to create a short film based on or inspired by New York City film/video artists and prominently featuring a New York City neighborhood. I had just moved to East Harlem at the very beginning of the summer so I knew I wanted to feature that as a backdrop for my video. Beyond that, I wasn't sure when I started out what sort of story I wanted to tell, and I just focused on gathering as much footage as possible. I took a couple of days to film around the area from 110th St to 117th St between Lexington Ave and the East River.

In terms of the visual style, I was strongly inspired by my favorite filmmaker, Wong Kar-wai, and his cinematographer, Christopher Doyle. I aspired to something that was warm and moody, and that eventually flowed over into the narrative I used to combine my footage, as well. Wong Kar-wai's movies often features characters who try to live lavishly despite being almost dead broke, and his female characters are often high-class prostitutes — so I essentially reimagined myself in a similar role, but situated in East Harlem instead of Shanghai or Hong Kong. The narration was admittedly an afterthought, featuring a voiceover by my talented friend Matt Tennie.