Thin Line Film Fest - “The Burning of Fry Street”
September 1, 2007
1210 West Hickory Street , Denton, TX
Dir: Christopher Largen
TRT: 17 min
When I arrived at Fry Street three days before The Tomato Pizza fell to arson flames, I had planned on simply obtaining some rough footage of the historic building in stages of demolition; something to post on YouTube for college students returning in the Fall.
Once I became aware that a man had chained himself to the upper floor of The Tomato (he would later be charged with burning the structure), and I saw protesters wrapping the building in Christmas garland, I knew this was a special event in time and space: something with a value not only historical, but human.
At that point I committed to capturing the experience on my handheld personal camera. I spent most of the next three days on Fry Street, sleep-deprived, hungry and filthy. There was no pre-production planning, no production crew, and no lighting and sound accessories. These deficits became assets, as they allowed the footage to remain more organic, spontaneous, and rooted in the citizens themselves.
I believe the resulting film to be an impressionistic exploration of what it was like to live through this event. But it's not just about a burning building. It reflects our attachment to places that embody personal history and identity. It shows what can happen when a corporation develops property with little perceived sensitivity to the feelings and wishes of local citizens. It demonstrates that while change is a constant, the social and civic responsibility it implies cannot be taken for granted.
Filming The Burning of Fry Street was an intensely personal experience for me. The historic building was the first I ever entered in Denton, and the eclectic mom and pop businesses it housed were a major factor in my moving here. I also wrote a large portion of two books and a screenplay on the upper floor of The Tomato. When you spend that much time in a building, especially while focused on creative endeavors, the place becomes a part of who you are.
Having this film screened at Denton's first film festival is a dream come true. From the people who generously expressed their views on camera, to the police who tolerated the sit-ins, to the local businesses that provided coffee to demonstrators, to the post-production support of Texas Filmmakers, The Burning of Fry Street was essentially produced by the citizens of Denton, and Thin Line Film Fest will be the perfect venue for debut.
This film will screen as a part of: Shorts Compilation 1
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