Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spark of Actor Within

This past weekend I had a few special guests in my taxicab. An indie film crew shot the first part of a 10 episode series about a girl who just emigrated from Spain to New York. Besides driving while incessantly and aloofly on my phone, I played the 30 second, on-camera role of an ill-mannered hack who took a long route from JFK to her newly adopted home of Bushwick.

It's ironic, considering how hard I try to always be accommodating to my passengers and uplift the depressed reputation of taxis in this city. But unfortunately it is realistic. As I see cabbies do several times a day, my character refuses to help unload the trunk, after failing to answer her inquiries as to whether we were in Brooklyn or not. Pictured below from left to right are the director, the videographer, me, the actor, and the editor.

My initial connection to the film shoot was through Edu, the Andorran editor who resides in Barcelona. I met him and his Brazilian partner 2 years ago when they came to shoot a documentary about the Freegan movement in NYC. Our mutual friend and outspoken artist, Raquel Sacristan, introduced us. They interviewed me in a taxicab about my lifestyle and we stopped for curb scores in SoHo. The film never fully developed for lack of funding.

But Edu has renewed his promise to send me copies of both the older segment and this new one, as soon as he returns to Spain. Everyone on the set, except for me and the hip young American director, flew in from the Iberian Penninsula.

I was paid $100 for 3 hours, a good deal for me, considering it took place during the slower part of the shift. I met them in Williamsburg at 9 am. With the director up front and the cameraman and actress in the back, we got on the BQE to the LIE and looped back over the Kosciuszko Bridge via Maurice Avenue. The first scene was her reaction to Midtown's magestic skyline through the window.

The next scene was cruising down Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill, to give her the lovely (but false) impression she was moving into a beautiful brownstone neighborhood. As we turned down Myrtle Avenue, the landscape progressively deteriorated until we arrived at her destination, by the JMZ train. Then the camera focused on me collecting the overpriced fare without clear explanation or remorse as to why it was so expensive.

Next, I was filmed as I stepped out "angrily" to close the trunk, after she walked off having intentionally left it open. Below is a shot of the film crew editing the final scene, using furniture on a sidewalk display as their office (after receiving permission from the vendor.) The elephant woman with the big yellow underwear makes for a nice backdrop.


  1. Sounds like a beautiful day, looks like one too. And although as cab drivers we understand how rude cabbies can be blamed on these horrible circumstances in which they work, it would be nice if more cabbies tried to push more positive dispositions erase their tunnel visions and see that they would get paid better for better service.

    My mother just had a terrible cab ride experience from LGA a few weeks back, and it just turns my stomach.
    -the poor handling of luggage, the rude behavior, an added toll for the williamsburg bridge, a refusal to address any of her questions with real answers but only hostility, a loud radio, and also a reluctance to drive her right up to the exact destination.

    but for every bad driver there are many more good ones, I love when I drive the cab and I see other drivers shaking hands with their customers and laughing and telling them stories.

    I hope the movie comes out great.

  2. YEs, seeing cabbies even hugging their passengers is phenomenal to see, and does happen every so often. i know it does outside my cab when i drop off sometimes.

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