Once upon a time, it seemed like you couldn’t walk through Washington Square Park without unwittingly stepping into the frame of some hapless NYU film student’s cinematic opus. I always used to imagine some weary film professor viewing the results. “Oh, great…..another one done in Washington Square Park!" In a city rich with visually dynamic locations, their dependable tendency to shoot in Washington Square always struck me as myopic and lazy. But just as the swallows used to return to Capistrano, you’d continue to see them flock to that iconic park to grapple with the rudimentary tools of cinema.
Nowadays, it seems I don’t see them there as much. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough, or maybe the leaps and bounds of digital technology have rendered some of that process obsolete? Who knows?
In any case, I recently stumbled upon the student film below — notably not shot in Washington Square, but in its neighboring vicinity. Filmed in 1972 on Greene Street between Waverly Place and 8th Street, the mechanics of the short film are explained by its student director, one Craig Highberger ...
Made when I was 19 in "Sight & Sound" class at NYU Film School, we were issued a World War II vintage Bell & Howell Filmo which was a wind-up 16mm film silent camera with a three lens turret and a 100 foot (about 3 minute) roll of Kodak Plus-X B&W reversal film - the assignment was to tell a story in two minutes! My professors were Charles T. Milne and Haig Manoogian.
Now, I'm personally intrigued by this, as this particular strip is practically my backyard, and really doesn't look all that different today. There's no longer an easily accessible door at 255 Greene wherein to make a hasty getaway into that dorm -- the same dorm, incidentally, that Rick Rubin was to launch Def Jam records out of some years later.
Take a look.