While commuting from Manhattan to an upstate New York teaching job, I got to experience the vigor of morning rush hour in Grand Central Terminal. I found the flow of people hypnotic.
It’s like an epic ballet with a cast of thousands — most of them oblivious to the grandeur of the event, focused on navigating their way to somewhere else.
My commute happily coincided with the morning sun streaming into the station through the east window. Each week, I shot a two-minute roll of film before rushing off to catch my train. Most of the film was shot with a 75-year-old 16 mm Bell and Howell Filmo, which was one of the first home movie cameras ever mass-marketed. There is a lot of this beautiful old camera’s personality in this film. I used black-and-white because Grand Central is always black-and-white in my mind. This particular film has a very low sensitivity to light (A.S.A. 6) and is very contrast-y. The only way to make an exposure was to literally shoot the pools of window light. As people move through the light, it’s almost as if they are sculpting it with their passing silhouettes.
The wonderfully dramatic music is by Shay Lynch. This film and these words originally ran in the New York Times, online in my blog, The Animated Life. The film is a shorter version of a 15m film I made in 1999, which was a shorter version of an hour long film I made the year before.