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Adam J. Boyer and Eric Keneifel’s documentary Rebuilding History: Three Miles Across The Hudson Premieres at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, October 4, 2019!


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 09/30/2019

Adam J. Boyer and Eric Keneifel’s documentary Rebuilding History: Three Miles Across The Hudson Premieres at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, October 4, 2019!

Adam J. Boyer and Eric Keneifel’s documentary Rebuilding History: Three Miles Across The Hudson Premieres at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, October 4, 2019!

Here is my interview with Rebuilding History Directors Adam J. Boyer and Eric Keneifel:

Nigrin:  Your very informative documentary Rebuilding History: Three Miles Across The Hudson  focuses on the building of the new Tappan Zee Bridge and celebrates the workers that made this happen. Please tell us more about your film and how you came to make it? 

Boyer/Keneifel: What started out as a 2-minute project video about Carpenter’s building at a Tappan Zee staging site quickly became a gateway into a much more compelling idea. In particular, during a soundbite, Laureen mentioned “driving over the bridge with my kids and grandkids”- I pointed to that later with the team and said- “THIS is a story to tell.”



 
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It’s legacy, it’s dignity- and as we got closer to finishing production, what became apparent is that we were documenting a real life ‘90s-action movie. The blue collar heroes racing against the clock to solve the problem the government couldn’t. The tropes practically wrote themselves as we pieced the film together, and I think that level of pacing shines throughout.

Nigrin:  America’s bridges and roads are in bad shape but this is a success story where a 60 year old bridge was replaced with a fancy new one. It seems as if your film emphasizes the need for federal and state governments to address the Infrastructure crisis. Was this intended? 

Boyer/Keneifel: Yes, on a macro level we did want to bring attention to infrastructure in the United States, which every other news article will tell you is not great. But on a deeper level, it’s not about getting federal dollars invested on the state level that’s an issue. It’s what the state does with those dollars that matters. Local people are at the heart of Rebuilding History. They live, work, and spend money in the very regions where billions of federal and state revenues are invested. And the only way a positive ROI (return on investment) can be possible is if the local workers are trained and certified and ready for these large projects before they’re even funded. We’re missing a step when we elect leaders going on about investing in infrastructure, and that step is investing in our workforce first.

Nigrin:  How long did it take to make this film and how did you secure the funding for it?

Boyer/Keneifel: This is the kind of project that almost literally involves laying track before a moving train. So we spent about three years just shooting- and even that required a lot of attention to schedules and strategic relationships to make sure the important moments were captured. We spent about eighteen-months in post-production, so all together probably four years working on this project. Regarding funding, I think it’s appropriate to call this project “branded content”... the Carpenter Contractor Trust was uniquely prepared for this kind of media narrative. I consider myself lucky to have been on the team that spearheaded this project when the opportunity presented itself in late 2014.

Nigrin:  The members of the Carpenters Union featured in your film are really very proud of the work they did. Tell us more about the workers that were featured in your film.

Boyer/Keneifel: They’re heroes. From day 1, that was our narrative. We had to establish the backstory of politics, engineering, and history- but that’s just set dressing. The story I wanted to tell was about the worker dangling four hundred feet in the air, using every ounce of training to stay alive; and then two hours later rushing home to pick up her kids from the sitter and make sure dinner was on the table. We were so fortunate to have access to the private lives of Will, Steve, Laureen, and Rob… they all encountered their own obstacles in the five years they spent building this bridge, and they came out not only heroes to their families but they’re our heroes now, everytime we cross that bridge or see it in pictures- it’s a safer, more convenient, and more aesthetically pleasing ride for tens of thousands of tri-state commuters thanks to the men and women who built this bridge.



 
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Nigrin:  Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you would like to relay to our readers?

Boyer/Keneifel: We spent several shoot days with each of our featured carpenters over the span of three years; I remember one of the days I was supposed to do a ride-along with Will, sort of get his day in the life story on film; and I had just packed the gear and was heading out the door when I got a call from the foreman on the jobsite that a crane had fallen. I drove to the site anyway, listening to the news as it broke. I met up with Will who had just left the site early (they shut down obviously), and we went about the day like we planned but we had this narrative all throughout the day which made it into the finished film. That’s the kind of thing you don’t plan for -- and morally hope never happens -- but it really brought to the surface what’s at stake, and that moment filming Will and his son watching the Governor address the media on TV was very out of body for me as a filmmaker. It’s the kind of moment that you don’t get from narrative films. It felt like a documentary more than ever.

Here is more information on this screening:

Rebuilding History: Three Miles Across The Hudson Adam J. Boyer and Eric Keneifel (New Brunswick, New Jersey)  Sixty years ago the historic Tappan Zee Bridge was built across the Hudson River to connect New York City to Westchester County.  As the bridge began to deteriorate, the highly skilled craftsmen of the Carpenters Union gave their all to ensure that the new bridge they were constructing would stand for generations for come. This documentary celebrates the work of these proud union members. We learn about their determination to get the bridge completed, and the pride that they took in building a colossal and glorious structure. 2019; 40 min Q+A Session with Producer/Directors Adam J. Boyer and Eric Keneifel!

Clean Hands Michael Dominic (Queens, New York)  Shot over the course of seven years (2011-2018) in Nicaragua, Clean Hands is a poignant, feature-length documentary  which chronicles the story of the Lopez family, and the difficult path this family takes to overcome extreme poverty and deprivation.  The film begins in the shadow of Central America’s largest garbage dump. This is the only life, and only world, this family has ever known. Through fortuitous circumstances, a foundation hears of their plight and comes to their aid.  As the family adjusts to the opportunity of a new home, more complications arise, making their promising new future uncertain. 2019; 98 min. Q+A Session with Director Michael Dominic!

Friday, October 4, 2019 at 7:00 PM
 in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey



$14= Advance; $12=General; $10=Students+Seniors

Information: (848) 932-8482;
www.njfilmfest.com

 

 



Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.



 
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