The story of how this film happened goes back to 2004, when I was a young aspiring film student at NYU. I was crashing at my brother’s apartment on the Upper East Side for a semester, and I was looking for a way to pick up some extra cash. So I started converting VHS tapes to DVDs for some of our rich Park Avenue neighbors. It ended up being a successful business, but I stopped doing it after college.
But when I moved to the suburbs last year, I decided to give my old side hustle another shot. I made a few posts online, and before I knew it, I was back in business. And now that I’m a professional video editor who’s mostly working from home, I can be editing comfortably in my office while digitizing tapes in the background.
To be honest, I usually don’t watch my customer’s footage any longer than I have to. I will say that every once in a while, I do find myself watching for a minute or two just because, as a documentary editor, I find old footage interesting. But most of what I see is what you’d expect: birthdays, babies, holidays, recitals, weddings, etc.
But there was one customer, Sádia, whose footage caught my eye a few weeks back. One day as I was working at my desk, I glanced over and saw New York City in what was clearly the 1980s. There really wasn’t much going on—just someone filming the city going by from their moving car. But the camera work seemed nice, and I was enjoying the vintage VHS look that it had. It struck me as artistic and had me feeling nostalgic for simpler times.
As I watch from my desk chair, the driving shots end and we are now on a city street. A woman and a young girl wait at an intersection. They cross the street and the camera comes with them. Then we pan up a tall building and cut to the signage on the front. 5 World Trade Center.
Now my eyes are glued to the screen as a family of three walks me through the underground concourse of the World Trade Center. They go up an escalator and enter 2 World Trade Center. A little girl dances on the large red carpeted floor of a building that is no longer standing, brought down by evil for all to see. It is quite eerie watching this family’s experience, knowing the fate of those buildings.
But the biggest surprise of all comes when the footage cuts to our family taking an elevator ride up to the top. The date, which hadn’t been shown previously, pops up on the bottom left of the screen: SEP. 11 1988. My jaw literally dropped. I knew at that moment, that no matter what, I would have to create something out of this immaculate footage that had shown up at my doorstep.
And that brings us to now. Please enjoy the film!
P.S. I’m also releasing an original song that I wrote, called City Like A Garden. It is a love letter to New York City.