Filming Protests In New York City
Another day, another social upheaval has taken over New York City. This place is ground zero for documenting “real life” and is one of the main reasons why I am based here … other than the fact that I got marooned here at the beginning of the Covid pandemic and just kind of gotten used to the place.
Or, put another way, if it’s happening in the world it’s being represented on the streets of New York City. War, cultural conflict, revolution, coups, invasions, mass demonstrations … are all global now. Local is a word that has lost its relevance.
So being a real life filmmaker here is often an exercise of slapping your camera rig together and going out into the streets to talk to people. That’s what I’ve been doing here since the recent flare-up of the Israel / Palestine conflict.
Demonstrators from both sides have taken to the streets, and many seem willing to have a camera put in front of their face so they could magnify their message. I often don’t even have to ask for interviews — I just pull out the camera and the interviews come to me. It makes sense — if you care about something enough to go out into the streets, hold signs, and yell and scream about it, you probably want to extend that message into the realm of media.
What is fascinating is that there was an extremely wide range of of opinions at this protest, from extremely moderate and rational to, basically, “we’re right and they’re wrong” … or, in some cases, what amounted to little more than crazed war cries.
Most media sources only cover the extremes — those screaming the loudest with the most violent messages. The lady in orange in the video below with the ultra-rational response or the apolitical Hasidic kid who said the reason why he was there was because he felt it was a good thing to do wouldn’t have a chance of making it into most broadcasts. Their views don’t fit the dominant narrative of one side fighting the other so they’re cast aside. So what we try to do — and the main reason we cover events like this — is to try to give a more even impression of what demonstrations like this one are really about and to show the fluctuations in message. It may not be as wild or interesting, but I feel that it’s a little closer to the way things actually are.
Watch the pro-Israel rally in New York City: