Streetfilms shine spotlight on alternative transport

Promoting friendlier streets one video at a time

Film director Clerance Eckerson Jr is working to help communities make their streets safer for bikes and pedestrians by using the medium he knows best – film.

His company, Streetfilms, promotes healthier living through short video documentaries. The street-friendly advocate has shot 150 films, of which more than half document cycling as a mode of sustainable transportation.

“Livable streets historically have been an undocumented genre,” said Eckerson. “And yet it's one of the most important aspects of making our cities more liveble, comfortable, entertaining and safe. We aim to raise the discussion and debate over how much space we over-allocate to cars and how that takes away from our general enjoyment and attraction of living in big metropolises.”

Streetfilms is registered as a non-profit organization and works with various advocacy and community groups worldwide to help spread the word about projects that are focused on making city streets a friendlier place to live.

Eckerson’s experience with video production has been largely gained through his work with the cable-access show bikeTV. The show allowed him to create entertaining and informative short items about transportation and much of the content included livable street topics. In 2004, he and colleague Mark Gorton began producing documentaries about street conditions in New York City.

“Besides being one of the primary issues we cover, bicycles are also our primary mode of production transportation,” said Robin Smith of Streetfilms. “Streetfilms' productions are car-free. We walk, bike and take public transportation to shoot interviews and get to and from the office. There are 135 videos in the 'bicycle' category, but bicycle issues play a role in more videos than that."

“Our production process varies from video to video,” she added. “Sometimes a single person will plan, shoot, and edit an entire peice by themselves, whereas other videos require a highly collaborative process.”

StreetFilms accepts solicitations and suggestions from the public regarding best street practices in other cities and countries. Furthermore, Eckerson tries to tie in current events and trends to each video, conduct interviews with highly regarded people in the transportation field and cover crucial events and announcements.

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