By Stephen Witt
The neighborhood that brought you Spike Lee is the launching pad for the next generation of borough filmmakers. But while Lee hailed from the brownstone section of Fort Greene, the next wave of filmmakers emanating out of the neighborhood work from the Whitman Community Center, 149 North Oxford Walk, in the Fort Greene public housing complex. The non-profit group is called the Brooklyn Young Filmmakers Center (BYFC) and it was formed in 1991, according to founder and program director Trayce Gardner. “The BYFC was formed by myself and other people who have been involved in film and love film, and who think both the study of film and the making of film are incredible vehicles for bringing low-income and working-class people into contact with many diverse people, and also leading them into discussions of areas of life they normally don’t discuss,” said Gardner. “Our basic mission is to teach low-income and working-class communities about film literacy and about different careers in film,” she added. The BYFC is also beginning to make inroads in filmmaking itself as the organizations is currently serving as executive producer on a student thesis film projects that two alumni are now doing at their respective colleges. The futuristic action film now being shot at locations throughout central Brooklyn is entitled “Back Streets.” Adonis Williams, a senior in the School of Visual Arts (SVA) film program, is directing the movie. Daysi Roman, a senior in the film program at New York University (NYU) is producing it. Both started with the BYFC while attending High School at Benjamin Banneker Academy. Roman is also a resident of the Fort Greene public housing complex, which is just ten minutes walk from Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Local youths from the public housing development were cast as extras in the film while their guardians helped out as production assistants. The BYFC also offers classes through the Continuing Education Department at the NYC College of Technology, 300 Jay Street. Among these classes offered are “Intro To Scriptwriting: Blueprint for Making A Film,” and “Getting Started in Film Careers: Intro to Production Assistant.” The classes mainly are attended by adults and teens and try to give specific information about how to develop a script, and what kind of film jobs are out there, said Gardner. The organization also produces an annual spring “Careers In Film Salon Series,” and last January produced the very successful INSIDE MAN Careers in Film Conference. Gardner said the organization is currently at a financial phase in its development where NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) has been experiencing cutbacks from federal funding that is affecting both BYFC and public housing community centers throughout the borough. As such, the BYFC is currently producing a newsletter to distribute throughout the community. The plan is to create a network so local filmmakers, trade people and professionals in the more gentrified surrounding community can begin to serve as mentors in the local public housing, she said. For more information on the Brooklyn Young Filmmakers Center log onto www.wearebyfc.org or call 852-6510.