The Film and Television Program produces a web series every year that is made primarily by the junior class. Over the past weekend and over next weekend, too, the web series is being shot in various parts of Denver. On Sunday, which also happened to be International Women’s Day, we were shooting an episode that revolved around two sisters, women of color, getting turned away from a club–in part because of racism. The script also dealt with gentrification, which was fitting for the area.
We shot at César E. Chávez park, located on Tennyson St. I didn’t know it at the time but apparently that area of Denver is affected by gentrification. Oddly enough, while shooting, I commented that in the background of some shots, a building under construction was right next to a boarded-up building. We hadn’t tried but the area in which we were filming fit the content perfectly…almost too much so.
A few hours into the night, a neighbor living by the park shouted at us, the film crew. Among the various profanities and threats to call the police, she informed us “You can’t afford to live here!” She then came down to try and harass us more, revealing that she was white.
Later, after we had recovered from that incident, a truck drove by. From the driver’s side, a man shouted “Fuck you, n*ggers!” To emphasize, the film we were shooting was written/directed by and starring black women. The three of them (two actresses and one director) were the only black people on set. This comment could have only been directed at them.
No one on set knew what to do. Within an hour of the truck, we stopped production for the night due to the rain storm. Even if it hadn’t rained, i doubt anyone would’ve been able to carry on. We were all so emotionally drained.
There isn’t enough space in this column to fully discuss the events of that night in the way they need to be discussed. I know that I was unaffected in the same way others on the set were. I learned that life mimicking art is not always fun. I learned that racism, classism, and even agism are alive and well in this city.