Showing as part of the Dazed Live screenings, 'Captured' is a documentary that delves deep into the life and times of New York's Lower East Side through the lens of film maker and photographer Clayton Patterson. His extensive archive covers two decades of the lifestyles of the people living there with an unnerving eye. Pulled together by Daniel Levin and Ben Solomen, along with editor Jenner Furst, the film provides a direct and indepth look at the changing face of a neighborhood, once an alternative community, now gentrified. We talk to the filmmakers, Daniel B. Levin and Ben Solomen, about the film and Daniel's next project, a narrative feature based around the people he met while 'Captured'.
Dazed Digital: How did you first get involved in the 'Captured' project?
Daniel Levin: Me and Ben grew up together in Downtown New York and met Clayton Patterson when we where both in High School.
Ben Solomen: We met him under similar circumstances to most young artists, not as a mentor but certainly as a vetted supporter and collaborator. Over the years he encouraged us to work harder and to not be discouraged by what we saw happening in New York City. The bullshit of the art world, the gentrification of the City and the money over everything attitude that came to dominate.
Daniel Levin: The massive amount of work that Clayton had accumulated over the years exposed such a diverse cross section of the neighborhood that it was obvious something had to be done with it. When we graduated and moved back to New York, the Lower East Side was in the midst of a drastic transformation. We saw this as a perfect opportunity to not only tell Clayton's story, but through his work, the story of the neighborhood and its transformation.
DD: What was it about the Clayton's work that interested you?
Daniel Levin: What interested me in Clayton's work was the scope and depth. He was able to document so many different people and subcultures through out the neighborhood from the 80s to the present day. From drag to hardcore, drugs to cops he transcended so many different boundaries with his camera.
Ben Solomen: Who other than Clayton was capable of moving freely between the homeless of Tompkins Sq. Park, the drag queens of the Pyramid Club, the heyday of NYC Hardcore at CBGBS and so much more, all with camera in hand?
Daniel Levin: The general public has never seen the majority of Claytons work. Captured is just the tip of the iceberg, the film is an introduction, there is still so much to be discovered.
DD: What was the original response to the film? Were there any problems getting it seen?
Daniel Levin: We did initially have problems, it’s disappointing that the festival circuit didn’t understand the relevance of the film. The film really spoke to a younger generation whose music and style where influenced directly by what Clayton had documented.
Ben Solomen: I feel that after 9/11 (and I hate to reference this but its true), people did not want to see or experience the harsher aspects of American art and culture. Specifically the less flattering, often intimidating and bleak, New York City that so many people felt was a reminder of how bad things once were.
DD: You have recently been working on your first feature which is a fictional narrative based around Captured.
Daniel Levin: Dirty Old Town is about an Antique dealer and the 72 hours he has to come up with his rent. Many of the Characters in Dirty Old Town were in Captured. They play off beat caricatures of themselves. One of those characters is Billy Leroy who runs Billy’s Antiques & Props, the central character and location in the film.
DD: What have you focused on?
Daniel Levin: With Billy’s Antiques as the epicenter, Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason and I set out to make a gonzo narrative on the streets of New York with real characters, locations, and an improvised story. Through making Captured we became immersed in the present day landscape of the neighborhood. Meeting Billy we saw that his Antique Tent somehow bridged the world of yesteryear with that of the present. It was a bitter sweet scene and from it sprang an artistic collaboration, a story of our own creation, with characters, roots and influences in a neighborhood we knew so well.
Daniel Levin & Ben Solomen's 'Captured' will be shown at Dazed Live on Saturday April 9, 2011. The festival takes place at several locations in and around Shoreditch and is presented in partnership with Levi's and Absolut Vodka. Find out more about the Dazed Live HERE and buy your tickets HERE
Dazed Live, in collaboration with the Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund, will donate 15% of ticket sales from the festival to help care for the survivors and to help rebuild the affected areas