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In these films, Carroll Gardens is the backdrop — and neighbors are the cast • Brooklyn Paper

In these films, Carroll Gardens is the backdrop — and neighbors are the cast

Home movies: Ryan O’Hara Theisen launched a project that brings neighbors together to make short films.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

These movies give new meaning to the term “blockbuster.”

A Carroll Gardens filmmaker is on a mission to help Brooklynites turn strangers into friends — through a “film challenge” in which neighbors make short flicks using only people on their block as cast and crew.

Ryan O’Hara Theisen said he came up with the amateur film project “On my Block” after an ironic idea hit him: New Yorkers live so close to each other — but still don’t actually know the person next door.

“The idea bummed me out,” he said. “I realized I didn’t have a close connection with any of my neighbors.”

So Theisen, a luckyny.com“>director by trade, teamed up with neighbors near Union and Henry streets to make a film, which tracks the journey of a “junk camera” that gets left out on a Brooklyn stoop, picked up by neighborhood residents, and left out again for others to take. The camera gets a glimpse into the lives of the many dog-walking, child-rearing, music-playing, and even martial-arts-training people who live next door to each other.

His neighbors-turned-crew members — who include a real estate agent, a graphic designer, and a musician — floated ideas for several scripts, voted on the best one, and then made it as a promo for the project.

Other teams — which must be comprised of at least four residents on the block — can now make and submit movies for the contest, which ends October 31.

Fans will then cast votes on the best 15 submissions, which will be shown at a yet-to-be determined space in November.

Theisen said making the movie and working with neighbors, has given his block a “Cheers-like feel.” Neighbors say “hi” to each other and even hang out, he said.

“I see it more as a tight-knit community now — rather than a bunch of renters,” he said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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