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Near Penn Station, next to the Amtrak tracks, squatters have been living for years. Marc Singer goes underground to live with them, and films this "family." A dozen or so men and one woman talk about their lives: horrors of childhood, jail time, losing children, being coke-heads. They scavenge, they've built themselves sturdy one-room shacks; they have pets, cook, chat, argue, give each other haircuts. A bucket is their toilet. Leaky overhead pipes are a source of water for showers. They live in virtual darkness. During the filming, Amtrak gives a 30-day eviction notice. Written by
The soundtrack for the film was provided by DJ Shadow (aka Josh Davis), who is a critically-acclaimed producer and DJ. He is notorious, however, for being very protective of licensing his music for other venues or projects, having declined many other scoring offers in the past. When a friend of Singer's saw the footage assembled to a rough cut, he suggested Shadow for the soundtrack. Singer got hold of a couple of Shadow's albums, and loved the music so much, he began to cut the music into his film without any contact with the DJ. When fellow producer Ben Freedman told him he would need the rights to the music, the duo concocted a scheme whereby they would write a note to him and give it to an attractive female friend who would go backstage after a show and personally hand-deliver it. It worked. Weeks later, the two scheduled a flight to LA to coincide with a last-minute meeting with Shadow and his agent. According to Shadow, he was prepared to turn down the men's offer to use his music. But when they showed him a rough edit of the film with his music that Singer had already cut-in, Shadow was taken aback and completely impressed. He not only let them use existing titles, but even remixed some older tracks intercut with new audio samples recorded by Singer in the tunnels as a special score done for the film. See more »
Dark Days is an amazing first-time documentary project. I saw this last night and was blown away. The guy shot a huge amount of film before developing anything. He was lucky he got the light metering right under such challenging conditions!!! He also never checked the audio until all the shooting was done (more than 50 hours)- another small bit of luck! Mark lived in the tunnels under New York City with homeless people for two years while filming this documentary. He lived homeless in every aspect, even dumpster diving for food.
As for the content of the film, it's an incredibly compassionate look into the lives of a few of the many homeless people who lived under New York City in abandoned railway tunnels for decades. Up until recent years, there was a community of multiple thousands of people living down there. Having read the book the Mole People, I'd say this movie is a more compelling and insightful examination of this story.
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