Fellow Filmmakers Must Traverse ‘5 BLOCKS’



‘5 Blocks’, the film project about revitalizing the San Francisco central Market Street neighborhood, is a groundbreaking ‘Must Know’ for fellow Filmmakers. I got the chance to speak with Co-Producer Dan Goldes about the filmmakers’ use of cutting-edge mobile technology to tell a story long before the documentary footage is edited. Read on. This info may expand the way you imagine promoting your films. First, a bit about ‘5 Blocks’. This documentary captures the resurrection of the five blocks of San Francisco’s Fifth and Tenth Streets, with some attention to the streets between Market and Mission Streets, to one block north of Market. The documentary seeks to capture the revitalization, and document its impact on the changing neighborhood.

Dan Goldes and his film project partner Robert Cortlandt, have always seen the City as a place of great possibility. For Dan who grew up in the City, he knew of central Market Street’s modern reputation as not so nice a place, but was unaware of its heydey when cinemas and live theaters thrived.
While the Dotcom craze brought Eureka! to the lips of San Francisco investors, central Market Street got largely left behind; seismic retrofitting cut out many investors. The area sat on the vine waiting, with streets and structures in urban rot. While long-time locals were spared the fight waged in other parts of the City from gentrification, the area suffered from lack of renewal. Its re-birth is underway now and for the foreseeable future, care of the Economic and Work Force Development effort at San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s Office, headed by Amy Cohen. Already, it’s home to Twitter, CNET, Dropbox, art museums, lofts, clubs, and retail stores. But, revitalization means change. And, the changes will have varied impact on residents, many whose long-term status labels them, low-income and indigent.

As for the documentary, ‘5 Blocks’  has received great interest and enthusiastic support. The film budget is estimated at 300K, so dynamic backing from the Community is key. For Goldes, a filmmaker who has not worked on this budgetary scale before, the positive feedback has been overwhelming, and gives him fuel for the film’s vision. With a film education under his belt from the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking (SFSDF), Dan’s first film, ub2, about how pejorative language used on Gay dating sites impacts HIV+ gay men, premiered as an official selection to 19 film festivals worldwide.

Yes, ‘5 Blocks’ is destined for festivals and for viewing on public television…
But, here’s the jewel for fellow filmmakers: While the documentary is still in-progress, the filmmakers will employ a documentary mobile application, bringing neighborhood stories to life. The technology will use location-specific sites augmented by sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. A smartphone user on foot or by wheeled transport can point the device at a building, intersection, etc. to view specific content about that location. The info is then given in Short-form video, photos, audio, or multi-media.

Media Mentors help create this content by assisting residents, local media professionals, and artists to craft the material. Stories are as varied as a resident who may live in a 10 X 10 space and is afraid of being booted out, to that of a historic theater torn down to make room for retail stores. This approach to disseminating information will create a layered, ever-morphing story, beyond the confines of the documentary that will screen.

The film ‘5 Blocks’ is destined for success, and notoriety as a learning frontier for fellow filmmakers. Learn more about ‘5 Blocks’ here.


Read Katherine Bennett’s Film Courage article
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Katherine Bennett is a freelance, screen, and fiction writer. She also reviews films. She resides in Northern California. You can visit her on Twitter @VerbaVitae and her website KatherineBennett.com.