Project Spotlight: 'New York', A Love Letter to NYC

Allison Barr is an 18 year old visual artist from Portland, Oregon.  She has been toying with photography from the age of 15, and hopes to make a career out of photojournalism.  Currently, she is studying Journalism, Cinema Studies, and Spanish at her university. When she’s not on a shoot, she’s probably thriftshopping, traveling, or writing letters. Her short, “New York” is a beautiful visual story of one of the best cities on Earth. With music accompanying mesmerizing visuals, her video feels like energy buzzing through power lines. It feels like something is under the surface.

The entire short, it feels like something is brewing. Did you intend for this to be the feeling? Like something is about to happen?
Honestly, I did not intend to leave anything unsettled during my film.  I like that reaction though! New York is a place where you never know what’s next.  I think that reading fit.

Had you been to NYC before? Did it always have this profound affect on you?
I had never been to New York before this!  Before going, it was always a place of dreams to me. It seemed too romanticized by society to be real; so I tried to capture how I saw it through this film.

What was this trip for? Were you with others? What made it special?
I went just because I had never been!  I went with my mom, but ventured out a lot on my own.  It was special just because it was New York. I hope to go back soon by myself to work on art.

Did you purposely leave people out of the focus? Most of the short focuses on the spaces that you visited.
As I mentioned, I intended this film to be how I personally saw New York, and how I saw it was a surreal place you could only find in a dream.  People caught my attention in the city, but they’re not how I originally thought of New York. Nor did they add to my impression of the city after I left.

Why did you choose this song?
I chose this song because I keep a list of songs that make me feel like I’m in a movie, and this was on it.  I just felt like it fit the city vibe the best out of all of them because it had a little more substance that matched the depth of the city.

What does your work usually fall under?
I’m just starting to develop my video style, but I’d say it’s lifestyle and music video-esque.  It’d hard to label my photography style, but I just hope it reminds the viewer of a world with nothing but beauty.

How did you find your start in film?
I got inspired to do film since I was introduced to the director, Wes Anderson, at 15.  I started making short films since I was 16, but they were usually my friends and activities put to music.  Now that I’m returning to filmmaking at 18, as most of my focus was on photography, I’ve brought my work to a new dimension I couldn’t two years ago.

 What do you do to keep creative?
Staying creative this year was hard for me, as I moved to a town where art was near taboo. During that time, I tried to watch as many films and journal as much as possible. Now that I’ve moved back to Portland, a great city for art, I am constantly planning and doing photoshoots, submitting my work, and meeting with people who help my work and me grow.  For anyone with an artist block, I recommend surrounding yourself on the internet with the little things that can help maintain your creativity (like I did with watching films).

Tips for other creators?
For female and gender non-conforming filmmakers, I’d say just keep trying.  I acknowledge how hard is it to try and enter such a masculine-dominant workforce, but there are so many up and coming platforms, like Light Leaks, that are a haven for us.  I’ve submitted my work lots of places, and at first only got into very few. That hasn’t stopped me! The more visual work I creative, the more I gain from it. The more people I meet, the more my work develops.  The more I submit, the more positive results I receive. The same will be for you! Let your passion carry you.

Follow Allison’s journey as a creator here:
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