‘Hog’ wild: Filmmaker becomes tunnel-digger to create documentary

‘Hog’ wild: Filmmaker becomes tunnel-digger to create documentary
Photo by Brent Stirton

If you can’t film them, join them.

Filmmaker Eddie Rosenstein wanted to learn about the people doing the dangerous job of digging the tunnels that bring fresh water into New York City — so he went and got a their job.

And with the two old pipes that kept the city hydrated for 150 years rusting away, it was a job of supreme importance, Rosenstein said.

“The fate of NYC, and in a lot of ways, the world, was dependant on the completion of the third water tunnel,” said Rosenstein, a Brooklyn documentary filmmaker whose recent project, “Sandhogs,” chronicled the construction of an additional tunnel channeling potable water into the city from upstate.

But requests for access to the tunnels and the diggers, known as “sandhogs,” were denied.

“The city wasn’t eager to have this story told, there was almost this black-out about it.”

Rosenstein could only enter the tunnel as a worker. After months of showing up to the job-site asking for work, he said he finally took the place of a worker who got hurt on the job.

He worked for weeks before bringing a camera down to begin filming.

“That’s the joy of being a documentary filmmaker — you not only get to share these stories, you get to live them,” he said.

On Dec. 28, Rosenstein will team up with Noah Rosenberg, a multimedia journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and CBS News, and founded Narratively, a multimedia website sharing New York’s untold stories. The two men will present clips from their works and discuss their craft.

The presentation is the first in a new series of meet-ups and conversations bringing professional storytellers together to tell tales and open a conversation about non-fiction storytelling.

DUMBO Film Salon at reRun Theater [147 Front St. between Jay and Pearl streets in DUMBO, (718) 766–9110, www.reruntheater.com]. Dec. 28, 6:45 PM, free.