Living by the Amtrak Tracks in NYC : Dark Days – The Documentary [Video]
Near Penn Station, next to the Amtrak tracks, squatters have been living for years. Marc Singer goes underground to live with them, and films this “family.” A dozen or so men and one woman talk about their lives: horrors of childhood, jail time, losing children, being coke-heads. They scavenge, they’ve built themselves sturdy one-room shacks; they have pets, cook, chat, argue, give each other haircuts. A bucket is their toilet. Leaky overhead pipes are a source of water for showers. They live in virtual darkness. During the filming, Amtrak gives a 30-day eviction notice.
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Dark Days is a documentary made by Marc Singer, a British filmmaker. The film follows a group of people living in an abandoned section of the New York City underground railway system, more precisely the area of the so-called Freedom Tunnel.
When he relocated from London to Manhattan, Marc Singer was struck by the number of homeless people he had seen throughout the city. Singer had befriended many in New York’s homeless community and later, after hearing of people living underground in abandoned tunnel systems, he met and became close to a group of people living in The Freedom Tunnel community stretching north from Penn Station past Harlem. After living with them for a number of months, he decided to create a documentary in order to help them financially. Singer had never been a filmmaker before, and saw the production of Dark Days as a means of gaining better accommodation for the residents of the tunnel.
The film’s crew consisted of the subjects themselves, who rigged up makeshift lighting and steadicam dollies, and learned to use a 16mm camera with black-and-white Kodak film. The post-production process took years, as financial difficulties created delays, as did Singer’s insistence of creative control to protect the tunnel residents.
During filming, Amtrak announced they would be forcibly evicting the homeless living in the tunnels in order to reroute their trains through the tunnel. This announcement, plus the police presence backing the decision, prompted Singer and photographer Margaret Morton to go to the Coalition for the Homeless for help. Eventually, Singer and Morton managed to secure housing vouchers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the film’s subjects, which enabled them to move out of the tunnels and into their own apartments.
Melissa Neidich was the editor of the film. Cinevision, a New York City camera shop, supplied Singer with cameras for the two-and-a-half years of filming. When Singer ran out of money for film, Kodak supplied free damaged film for the project.
Source : Youtube