‘Off Track Betty’ Short Film Captures Delancey Street in Flux, and One Woman’s Faded Sense of Belonging
One local filmmaker just completed a film shot completely around the Lower East Side. Specifically, the intersection of Delancey and Essex Streets. Its subject matter is also of the neighborhood.
Shot exclusively on 16mm film, Off Track Betty is a narrative short about a longtime resident who realizes she no longer recognizes, nor belongs in her home. A theme that many can certainly relate.
Its director, Clayton Smith, has lived on the Lower East Side for fifteen years. The creative spark behind the story was the east-facing facade of 101 Delancey with its aged OTB ghost signage. An exercise in imagining the person who may have lived behind the letters – hence the name of the film.
But what happens when the local filming locations for an independent movie begin disappearing? Such was the case with Off Track Betty. According to Smith, demolition for the Essex Crossing mega-project commenced on his second day of production. So, in essence, the film documents a place and time that is rapidly disappearing.
Same with the format on which the story was captured. Smith notes that Off Track Betty was one of the last film projects on 16mm processed in New York City. Ever. The only film lab remaining in the city – which also serviced Boardwalk Empire – recently discontinued developing services. Film Lab New York closed in December 2014.
Off Track Betty is almost complete, but needs a final boost to wrap the final edit. There’s a Kickstarter campaign underway to raise $11,000; roughly $9,000 has already been raised. Head here if interested in donating.