: Michael Blackwood
Official Film Festival Selection
: : "Broadway Express" participated in many international film festivals at the time including New York's Cinema 16 programs. It aired in prime time on the then popular Sunday night NBC program "Omnibus".
Shot in 1959 “Broadway Express” is a portrait of New York City’s diverse population, as captured in the city’s subways during the evening rush hour and late at night. A portrait of the city through the faces of the passengers held captive for the ride.
Independent documentary filmmaker Michael Blackwood has produced and directed more than 120 films during the course of his career, aiming to create a permanent record of some of the leading figures in the cultural landscape of our time. His main interest is in the areas of architecture, art, music and dance. Coming out of a background of cinema verite, narration is used very sparingly, if at all, which allows the subjects to speak for themselves. This approach makes these documentations meaningful primary source material.
Before starting his own production company in 1966, Michael Blackwood was a member of the NBC Special Film Unit which created the “Project Twenty” and “Wisdom” series under producers Henry Salomon, Don Hyatt and Robert Graff. Later he was a producer and director in the Public Affairs and Cultural Programming Departments of German Television in Munich and Cologne.
Since 1966 his films, coproductions with international public broadcast networks, have been widely aired in the U.S. and abroad. They are also screened frequently and can be found in the permanent collections of many museums and universities, both in the United States and abroad.
What inspired you to make this piece?
I wanted to make a portrait of the people of the city of New York and found the subway an ideal place because everyone “sits still for you” for the duration of their trip. The subway also provides a good mix of people except for the super rich. People noticed my filming wondering why I am doing it, but only for a moment then they fell back into their thoughts subdued by the noise of the clanking train.
Briefly tell us about how you made your film or video: what camera and format did you use to shoot your piece, and what system did you use to edit it? What is your working process? Did you use any special techniques to make this work?
The film was made long ago. I used a hand-wound Filmo with day light spools. The black and white film stock came from short ends from NBC news where I was employed at the time. It was shot without sound and edited on a viewer with rewinds. A friend composed a percussion score. It is the simplest way of making a film.
Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this particular work?
It was shot during the summer of 1958 when I spent many nights in the subway without any incidents.
What is the relationship between your work as a video/filmmaker and life in the New York metropolitan area?
Aside from films about New York City, I have made many films about artists, architects, choreographers and musicians who live and work in the city.
What films/videos and makers have inspired you or influenced your work? And why?
Leacock and Pennebaker inspired me to work as often as possible in a cinema verite style.
If viewers are interested in obtaining copies of your work for rental or purchase, whom should they contact and at what address and phone number?
Michael Blackwood Productions, Inc.
6 West 18th St #2B New York, NY 10011,