November 12, 2011 | Red Line DC on-board and in action. (Photo by Jada Smith)

Looking Back at Our Red Line Ride

This past weekend, five brave souls set their sights on the red line to talk about the metro and art. It was an experiment in filmmaking and community dialogue. We took the risk of approaching strangers and asking them to take a new look at their environment. We asked commuters about their red line histories, experiences riding and interest–if any–in the graffiti that greets them each day. The responses were varied and the results of our little adventure were surprising to all involved. In the days since our all-day shoot, here’s what the small and energetic crew behind Red Line D.C.‘s commuter interviews has had to say about the whole weekend excursion:

I think it was interesting how we were worried about approaching folks, but some people reacted really warmly. It’s an important reminder that filmmaking is a two-way street. We’re not just taking, but there is an exchange …
— Julie Espinosa, videography

I was pleasantly surprised by how open and receptive most people were about talking to us and being filmed; the friendliness of red liners! And, people gave really thoughtful answers, not just yes or no.
— Jada Smith,  interviewing

In general, I was surprised at people’s willingness to talk in such an open space. I only spoke with a couple people, but I was also surprised at how overwhelmingly negative their attitudes towards graffiti were. I mean, I guess my own opinions aren’t a good barometer, but … it seems like people were just forming their opinions [about graffiti on the metro] without discussing at all … They just may not have all the sides to the story.
— Mebrahtu Grmai, videography

The few people I was able to interact with, actually had a lot more to say than I expected. It almost felt like people are quiet, but when given a chance to express themselves, they really open [up]. [In] my experience with the metro people are quiet,  looking down, minding their own business (as much as possible), but that day, the 2-3 people I got to see or talk to, opinions just started flowing out.
— Philippe Bissohong, interviewing

I enjoyed soaking up the metro experience in a group. It attracted a lot of attention, but in ways that allowed us to spark conversations with  curious commuters. Announcing to a packed train that you are doing a metro graffiti documentary is probably the biggest ice breaker I can think of … Once the initial “we’re-transit-strangers-so-we-shouldn’t-speak” awkwardness passed, I was surprised by how many people we’re willing to share their points of view.
— Saaret Yoseph, directing

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