Urban Media Archaeology
Professor Shannon Mattern
For over forty years, Woody Allen has been one of the most well regarded and original filmmakers in the independent film medium. A majority of his work has been filmed throughout numerous regions of New York City. Recently, in 2009, Allen went on record and stated, “I began shooting movies in European cities because I can not afford to do it any more in New York,” (Telegraph.co.uk). This upset thousands of avid Allen film viewers because New York City has always been a constant character for a majority of his work, and gave many of his films an edgy characteristic that only NYC can provide.
For my mapping project I plan on selecting 10-12 iconic Allen films that were shot in different regions around the city and showcase certain landmarks within these areas that were featured in his films. I will do this through original video and audio narratives describing the landmark, park, or neighborhood area as well as including film scenes from the corresponding Allen film. The selected movies will cover Allen’s entire career, starting with his first full-length feature Bananas from 1971, to his last New York based feature Whatever Works from 2009. Once I have selected the landmarks and neighborhoods from some of the Allen films. I will then take both a macro and micro approach on the New York film industry. I will look at different theorists opinions on why so many directors and producers throughout history have chosen to film, and continue to film in this city. I will then use this macro knowledge to demonstrate why Woody Allen is one of the most influential film directors who has showcased New York in his films throughout history, and what an important character the city has been throughout his successful career.
Project Relevance and Timeline
Many critics voiced negative opinions about Allen’s filmmaking move to European cities when he went on record, and people wondered if he could provide his same film aesthetics when not using New York City as a backdrop. Some of his latest films including Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris, which were both shot in Europe, have actually become some of Allen’s biggest commercial successes. While I personally enjoyed both these films, I still felt that both did not represent Allen’s unique aesthetic, audiences are used to and a major reason behind this was the absence of New York City.
In early January the magazine I am fashion editor for, The Dirty Durty Diary, will be shooting Allen for our Spring Film Issue. I will also be conducting preliminary interviews with Allen and would love to bring these opinions up in our conversation. As well as reference the numerous New York City based past films, and this map research will be an excellent reference for the interview and shoot.
I also think this project will receive positive feedback from Allen film supporters, and go more in depth on the areas Allen chose to showcase and the reasons these areas are so significant. For example:
1994’s Bullets Over Broadway- Feature a historic Broadway Theater from the film and a brief historic narrative of the venue
1986’s Hannah and her Sisters-Locating the Upper East Side apartment where the family lived, and provide an overview of the upper class neighborhood.
1996’s Everyone Says I Love You- Film an interview on the famous Bow Bridge in Central Park and what it means to the daily walkers on the bridge