Filmmaker/Producer: Steve Bilich
Co-Producer/Composer: Bill Susman
Native American Trail Scout: Terry "Coyote" Murphy
Running Time: 13:00
For more information visit: www.nativenewyorkerfilm.com
• WINNER Best Documentary Short, Tribeca Film Festival (NYC)
• WINNER Gold Medal for Excellence Audience Choice & Jury's Choice, Park City Film Music Festival (Park City, UT)
• WINNER Columbine Award, Moondance International Film Festival, NORTH AMERICA PREMIERE (Boulder,CO)
• Global Voices/UNAFF, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard
• Global Voices/UNAFF, Boston University (Boston, MA)
• CINEQUEST (San Jose, CA)
• Tiburon International Film Festival (Tiburon, CA)
• Raindance Film Festival (London, UK)
• United Nations Association Film Festival (Palo Alto, CA)
• Los Angeles International Short Film Festival (Los Angeles, CA)
• Rome International Film Festival (Rome, GA)
• Vancouver International Film Festival (Vancouver, Canada)
• Action/Cut Short Film Competition (Los Angeles, CA)
• Avignon International Film Festival (Avignon, France) WESTERN EUROPE PREMIERE
This silent documentary with an original score was filmed through the eye of a 1924 hand-crank spring-wound Cine-Kodak camera. This film features Terry “Coyote” Murphy representing the Native American influence on the island of Manhattan.
Coyote, a shaman trail scout, takes a journey that transcends time, weaving from Inwood Hill Park (where the island was traded for beads and booze), down a long native path (now called “the great white way,” more commonly known as Broadway), to the lower reaches of Manhattan and ground zero (which is now a sacred burial ground for not just the American Indians and the slaves of yesteryear, but also the newest natives of this island empire).
Steve Bilich graduated from the University of Texas, with a degree in radio-TV-film and a minor in business and theater. His acting credits include a few off-Broadway ensemble pieces and some off-off-Broadway performances, including a few one -man shows. The films that he has written, directed, and produced have been invited to Sundance, Slamdance, Raindance, Moondance, Berlin, Manheim-Heidelberg, the Smithsonian Museum for the American Indian (Native Works), Woodstock, Wounded Knee, the Brooklyn Museum, SXSW, the Austin film festival, Vancouver, LA Shorts, United Nations Association Film Festival at Stanford, the Academy of Science Mansion in NYC, and the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.
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What inspired you to make this piece?
My love for NYC, the American Indian, and my love for old cameras.
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?
CAMERA -- I shot with a 1924 hand-crank Cine-Kodak camera (basic pinhole) with a popup rifle sight. EDIT -- AVID
What is your working process?
Blood, sweat, tears, film angels, cash, and a lot of convincing and praying. This film took six years to make.
Did you use any special techniques to make this work?
No, just went back in time and entered a high-grain black-and-white world with the right attitude. :)
People were amazed that the camera worked and gravitated into my world, all kinds of people. Society has a tendency to want to be filmed, but not without permission and not with video cameras. There's something intrinsic about the milieu of a "film" camera, especially an old ghost like the one I used; its mechanics and its sound create a breathless allure and a suspension of disbelief and belief.
Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this particular work?
All things and people have a story; not all stories have a beginning, middle, and an end, nor are all stories that interesting. I will share with you a little shamanism, the ability to call things from the universe and be willing to receive, to take on the responsibility and to pay the consequences of dreams. Just prior to 9/11, I took a walk through the city with my visiting mother, a shaman in her own right. She said to me, "Do you mind if we take a walk over to the flea market at 26th Street and Sixth Avenue?" I obliged her wishes and knew that she had already created a universal wish. We hadn't walked a block when she turned and looked me in the eye and said, "Maybe you'll find a movie camera, something that you will one day create a great film with (she is a lot like the late great Ruth Gordon in HAROLD AND MAUDE, one of my favorite films!). I knew the minute she said that that I in fact would be confronted with the responsibility of this long journey, one that would take me years into the future, with surprises around every corner; we proceeded to the flea market. At the last booth on our journey, there were these old cameras being sold by an aboriginal man trying to get to the Outback in Aussieland. He smiled through me, testing my wit and looking into my soul.
He said, "You ready for this journey?" I smiled and said, "I'm here." He sold the camera to me for less than the island of Manhattan was stolen for, actually a lot less. The camera cost me nine bucks and change and the first person I called would later become my film angel, one of many. I called Kodak NYC and Steve Garfinkel answered; I told him of my find, I could hear him light up with excitement, an excitement like that of a fortunate child having its first ride on it' bike, without the training wheels. I told him where I found the camera and all he could say was "I'm an expert on these cameras, they're magnificent." He raved and boasted about them. I listened to his professional yet childlike manner (he is actually a very important person at Kodak and in the film world, a big kid). He then asked me how he could assist me, oh boy, little did he know, or did he? Maybe everything is at our fingertips, but knowing what to do with the gift is the trick. Steve became an immediate kindred soul to me and the journey I was about to embark on. I told him that I wanted "test" film. He asked how much I wanted, and I quickly told him "Enough to shoot a feature-length film with a four to one ratio." Laughing, he dropped the phone. He then said, "I'll call ya in 20." He called back in 18 (a very mystical number in the Jewish or Hebrew culture), I smiled and waited for his answer, he said that he found thousands of feet of film (tens of thousands) that had just reached its expiration date and that he would leave it at the front desk, but to please say hi; I did (I'm not sure if the film was exactly expired or not). My six-year journey blessed me with the presence of a Native American Shaman trail scout, Terry "Coyote" Murphy (that's a whole other magical story); the grace of a marvelous composer Bill Susman, who loved the film so much that I asked him if he would like to share the producer's credit with me as co-producer, he gladly accepted. It later turned out that it was Bill that submitted the film to Tribeca, and the list of friends and blessings go on and on. It has been an amazing journey! I have to admit two things: filmmaking is to me is the ultimate artistic collaboration and secondly, creating a film must be like breast-feeding a hungry child with very sharp teeth. I am now watching that film travel the world on its own, for with the love of many, many people and answered prayers, NATIVE NEW YORKER just graduated from a bicycle with training wheels to a racer, it is the little film that could! Please see Steve Garfinkel and Jon Gartenberg's (Tribeca Film Festival Program Consultant, Archivist, Film Historian and friend) comments on the NATIVE NEW YORKER Web site at: www.nativenewyorkerfilm.com
. Jon Gartenberg's Web site is: www.gartenbergmedia.com
. THE END.
What is the relationship between your work as a video/filmmaker and life in the New York metropolitan area?
NATIVE NEW YORKER is NYC, from its beginning to present date, in 13 minutes!
What films/videos and makers have inspired or influenced your work and why?
I am inspired by stories about everyday people, people that defy great odds and/or display random acts of kindness. I like nice people. :) I am influenced by many filmmakers! The two that flashed in my mind were Hitchcock and Fellini, to name only a few, there are so many! Some are even filmmakers I know that few have heard of.
If viewers are interested in obtaining copies of your work for rental and purchase, whom should they contact and at what address and phone number?
Please contact Bill Susman (co-producer/composer) at: firstname.lastname@example.org
. I am busy writing a new feature screenplay. Should you have any interest in my new project and/or questions, please feel free to contact me at my e-mail address and I will try to answer your e-mailed inquiries: email@example.com