Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program

Film and Electronic Arts


Peter Hutton

Abstract/Artist's Statement

My film focuses on the city of Buffalo and it’s steady decline as a location of relevance. With a waterfront that has been forgotten since the closing of its major industries, and a downtown that lacks any sign of life except for the weekend bar strip; Buffalo is in a serious state of degradation. While there are organizations fighting to maintain Buffalo’s significance, political corruption and neglect towards the lower class neighborhoods makes the struggle difficult.

However, even with the constant pressure of a poor economy weighing down on the city, Buffalo remains a tightly knit community. Buffalo, “the city of good neighbors”, is a city whose population prides itself on the connections made within it. Because of this there is a strong sentiment towards rebuilding. Through this eternal drive to better the city, a strong sense of unity unites its communities.

To illustrate this struggle I created a type of cinematic collage of the city and the relationships within it. I have four different components to my work that mesh and blend together to personify Buffalo. My intention in taking this approach is to create a way in which an audience can relate to the city on a more personal level. The four methods I used are; documentary, narrative, animation, and film photography. These different methods of film production all play a significant roll in illustrating specific aspects of the city. I combine them together in segments that vary in duration. By doing this I hope to avoid a static visual representation of Buffalo and to add a personality to the city.

The documentary aspect of the film is the establishing force behind the work. It focuses on political, social, and socioeconomic issues that exist within Buffalo. This includes interviews from people who have worked in organizations focused on redeveloping the waterfront/downtown area, people who have worked in political office dealing with the treatment of lower-class neighborhoods, and students who have left Buffalo only to briskly return to the community they left behind. These interviews provide real accounts of what is happening in Buffalo at the present time.

Corresponding with the documentary is the narrative portion of the film. This portion will revolve around a protagonist who is deciding whether he should leave Buffalo for college or stay behind. Reflecting on his decision, he faces the pressure of his parents pushing him to leave, the presence of his older brother who stayed in Buffalo working at a dead-end job, and the love of his friends and girlfriend that entice him to stay. These short, bold, skits work to add a face to Buffalo. The protagonist acts as a vessel that helps to point out certain struggles faced in deciding to leave the city you have grown up in all your life.

These two production methods are fused together with clips of animation. The animated portions help me create a world that does not exist in Buffalo. By allowing me to exaggerate and illustrate fictional scenarios, the animation adds another dimension to the portrayal of Buffalo.

Finally, the film photography helps me express the grit of Buffalo’s present state. It focuses on the architecture of its most well known structures, but also surveys the forgotten rusted relics of its past. This portion hopefully adds texture to my work as a whole and impacts the audience through graphic representation.

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Creative Commons License
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