New York City at Street Level
Written by the filmmaker, Oliver Schrott:
The typical New Yorker seems to never be strolling. Whether it’s 5am or the middle of the night, the New Yorker rushes and dashes through the city. And even when he wants to stroll, he can’t — others will literally run over him. In this city, time is a luxury comparable in value to living space. And strangely enough, the people who aren’t running always end up waiting for something. You wait in line for a restaurant, for a concert or to get into the movies. You wait for a taxi, for the subway, for a hot dog on the corner. Waiting is as much a part of New York life as running and rushing.
In a city where time is money and efficiency sets the pace of everyday life, the last thing you want to do is wait around. That, at least, is how it seems at first. Whether the train is late, the traffic light red or the internet slow – people are short-tempered and impatient. Not only in New York, but everywhere in the Western world, waiting has become the modern nightmare. But here’s the paradox: The more efficient we are, the less time we have. If you’re short on time, you’re a top performer. If you have time on your hands, you’re a slacker. The constant pursuit of efficiency seems pathological. It’s hard to understand how we got to this point. How can life be so busy, now that we have more free time than ever before? A few decades ago, people dreamed of a slim 40-hour work week. Now we have it, but there’s no time for ourselves.
Getting off the hamster wheel demands self-discipline, not just time management. We must first re-learn the art of waiting, of indulging in quiet moments. We must turn off the phone and make quality time for ourselves. Cast off our fear of boredom and wasted time in waiting lines.
The more we saw of New York’s fast-paced lifestyle during our ten days in the city, the more we appreciated those moments of recharging. We even had an inkling that New Yorkers didn’t mind it either. No matter how busy New Yorkers are, they will find their quiet moments somewhere in the city, even waiting in traffic. It’s not obvious right from the beginning, but waiting seems to serve as an equalizer to the normal and hectic rush in New York City. It’s the Yin and Yang of the city. That interplay between the hectic to-and-fro and the moments of recharging is what makes the city fascinating. It was this balancing act that we tried to capture in our film. Enjoy it.