2008-03-07 / Columnists

Notes from the High C's

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
by Sharon Gabriel

Remember the names of Jennifer Callahan and Elizabeth Harris, because they are the two ladies behind the documentary film "The Bungalows of Rockaway," which will be screened on Saturday, March 15 at 3:00 p.m. at the Post Theatre (the Rockaway Theatre Company theatre) at Fort Tilden.

Jennifer is the director and both she and Elizabeth are co-producers. Work on the film began over three years ago and is now almost complete, so what you will see is called a "rough cut," though it is only missing a few minutes of additional filming. Since seating isn't reserved, I would suggest that if you want to see what Rockaway was like in years past and some of the famous people who lived here, you arrive at the theatre well before the 3:00 p.m. start time.

Elizabeth and Jennifer have been friends for many years, both attending Brown University, though not at the same time. Jennifer grew up in Garden City, Long Island and then moved to St. Louis. While at Brown University she studied literature and intellectual history and has a master's degree in literature from New York University.

Elizabeth comes from Lynchburg, Virginia, and also attended Brown University. She went on to the University of Virginia where she received a master's degree in English, and she also has a second master's in fine arts. From Virginia, Elizabeth moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she produced an experimental film. She was also involved with an independent film entitled "This Train," which starred Soupy Sales.

Both ladies have worked in independent and experimental film. They met at a writing conference some years ago and again in 2002 in New York. At that time they got together again and things developed from there. Elizabeth took the A train to Far Rockaway in 2004, walked about, and then called Jennifer saying "this is a great place," and so the idea of doing a film about the Rockaway bungalows developed.

While all of these details may not be in chronological order, they more or less give you an idea of how long it takes to make a film, and the time and energy these ladies put into it. There was lots of research from the Municipal Archives to the Queens Historical Society, and more. This is not a full-length film and it has already taken over four years. In all of this time your life must go on, because if you are not a wellknown and successful producer/ director, you still have to live day to day. It's a very intense existence. To just obtain the funding to get the film finished is a major accomplishment and we have to give much credit to both Jennifer and Elizabeth for all of the hours they have put into this film.

In case you're wondering how the RMAC became involved, once again, we have to turn to Barbara Eisenstadt. Jennifer and Elizabeth were given our name as a conduit to assist them in obtaining funding for the film. Once we agreed on the project, it was a no-brainer as far as we were concerned. As I mentioned some time ago, Barbara offered me as a person who might be of interest to Elizabeth and Jennifer, because my family has lived in Rockaway over 90 years and possibly I could give them some background. I met with them about two years ago to do some interviews for the film, but as is my luck, I ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor. However, it has been a fun trip and I have met two very talented and up-and-coming well-known producers. We hope you will join us on March 15 to meet both Jennifer and Elizabeth, ask a few questions after the film, and have an enjoyable time.

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