For the second year in a row, a film about little old us has become an official selection at the prestigious NYC Food Film Festival! This time last year I was telling you how amazing it was- getting to watch short films about food while actually EATING the food- and how you needed to get tickets ASAP. This year….
You’re already out of luck. Hopefully it’s because you all remembered my notes from last year and already got your tickets!
I’m completely bummed that I personally won’t be there to hang out with the audience and stuff my face, but Matt will still be there handling the Q&A and representing Robicelli’s alongside Alison Grasso
, the filmmaker behind “Bklynography”. She asked us to take her on a tour of a few of some of our favorite places to eat and shop in our neck of Brooklyn so she could film it, and we were stoked not only to hang out with her, but also to eat 7 times in one day between 8am and noon. Because we’re professionals and that’s how we do things.
Since this Saturday is absolutely monumental for her as it marks her film festival debut, I thought it would be fun to subject Alison to her very first interview and learn about what inspired her to make the film, what makes her tick, and pick her brain about movies. Here we go!
Why did you move to Brooklyn?
I moved to Brooklyn in August of 2008 after I graduated from NYU. Mainly I looked to Brooklyn because Manhattan was muy expensivo, especially when you’re a poor post-college kid. I had visited a friend who moved to Boerum Hill a few months earlier and really loved the neighborhood - its bars, restaurants, and general “main street” small town community feeling. I knew I could get more for my money in Brooklyn. And it’s like it had all the amenities and perks of Manhattan, like 24hr bodegas (for drunk shopping) and great subway accessibility (for drunk transporting) but with way fewer tourists, more small, local businesses, and just a more homey sort of feeling.
When I was finishing college, I lived in an apartment in Chelsea, and while it was a great neighborhood, my bedroom was about the size of large closet (complete with sliding pocket door), our “kitchen” was a very narrow hallway, and the constant bustle made me feel a little strung out. Our “landlord” was a giant management company that was difficult to deal with and the rent was “just too damn high” to continue on that way, even if Jack McBrayer DID live around the corner (he did.) Now I go back to that neighborhood and what few unusual places that were there when I moved out are mostly gone - I don’t know why I’m still surprised when everything turns into a Duane Reade/Starbucks/American Apparel/Bank of America but it’s somehow disheartening nonetheless.
What made you start Bklynography?
Brooklyn is awesome, mostly. I love my neighborhood and community, and more than that, I feel really grateful to be a part of it. Giant corporations swallow up small businesses all the time, which is tragic to me. I wouldn’t be able to handle living in a suburban strip mall town where everything is the same, mile after mile. Not everyone has access to Sweet Potato Casserole cupcakes and locally brewed beers and artisanal mayonnaises, let alone the interesting, engaging, and unique people who create them. And there’s always something different going on in Brooklyn - between flea markets, and Guacfests and concerts and outdoor movies and Chili takedowns and dance parties - it’s almost too much to take in. I want other people to know how wonderful Brooklyn is, especially my college friends who are holding out in Manhattan on the Upper East Side. Would you freakin move already?! Actually don’t do that you’re gonna make the rent go up.
What drew you to film?
I started doing analog photography my sophomore year in high school. That same year, I first became aware of film as a potential job thing that people can do. My brother plays traditional Irish music (primarily the uilleann pipes [it’s an Irish bagpipe that is significantly less horrible than the Scottish bagpipes]) and when I was in high school he got hired to play on the set of a movie called Gods & Generals. It was the sequel to Gettysburg. Jeff Daniels was in it, I’m pretty sure. Anyway I begged my mom if I could take the day off school and go with him and my dad to the set, and she agreed. It was awesome. It was like traveling back in time to the Civil War, except dudes were sitting around eating Doritos in confederate uniforms. Basically I just hung around and watched everything and decided, “This is a job where you can wear whatever you want to work. I want this job.” We met Jeff Daniels’ stunt double and saw guys manipulating horses’ legs out of camera frame. It was the greatest day of my young life* (til I got to college and had my picture taken with Mo Rocca in Washington Square Park one time).
What are you doing now?
Originally I wanted to be a director of photography, but I decided that set life wasn’t for me - too much heavy lifting and long, long hours. Plus, the crippling anxiety! I also really liked editing so I chose that. Editing has an “undo” button most of the time which I like.
So now, I am an assistant editor at a commercial post-production facility. I get to work on commercials for things like Dairy Queen, AND I still get wear whatever I want to work. In my spare time, I shoot photos and make videos of my own, and try desperately to find time to go to the post office. I run Brooklynography, which, unfortunately, has been a bit defunct lately as I’ve been busy with other projects on the side. I also spend a lot of time seeking out cool new things, eating delicious stuff, and playing with my new puppy Igby.
Can you explain “Mullholland Drive” to me? Because I still don’t get it.
I’ve never seen Mullholland Drive and based on its description on Netflix Instant I refuse to watch it.
What about Kristen Stewart? I don’t get that, either.
I’m not sure if I “get” her. I appreciate that she isn’t Taylor Swift though. That is refreshing about her. Also I don’t think the slut-shaming was fair. We all make mistakes, Kristen!!
What’s up next for you?
Next? I don’t know! Maybe some photo projects? I’d like to take an awesome trip somewhere cool and far away. I’d like to live in Paris for a while (and start a short-lived spin-off project, Parisography.) I’d like to invest in camera stabilization equipment. This was meant to be a wishlist, right?
Say something nice about me, because its my blog and I call the shots around here. Also, I have your puppy.
Allison Robicelli is my muse, even though her name has an extra L that is completely superfluous. I don’t remember how I found out about their cupcakes, it was probably through Fucked In Park Slope, but this product changed my life. It’s sort of sickening that I’m the kind of frail personality whose life can be upended by a baked good, but whatever. Robicelli’s represents everything good in a food business. Their flavors always change. They’re seasonal, they’re exciting, they’re different. It’s something to chase and look forward to. In my opinion, stagnation is sort of what kills a business. Once it’s predictable and boring, I’m not interested anymore. If I can get it any day, then why do I need to get it today!?
On top of making a super great product, Allison and Matt are the sort of friendly, outgoing, inspiring business owners who make a community what it is. And they don’t have some intern sitting behind the twitter, Allison pushes the buttons and stays in touch with a number of people I cannot even imagine. They personally work events where they’re selling their product! I’m pretty sure Matt and Allison have clone versions of themselves because I don’t know how they can do so much all the damn time. They care about their community and their customers and their family, and that is goddamn beautiful. Plus they give me free cupcakes sometimes.
PS: I’m from Maryland, nothing cool or exciting ever happens there.
I’m you’re muse! Oh, you’re just too much, Alison with your freakish “one L” in your name! Too much indeed!
Now go buy a cupcake or some whoopie pies or something and get yourself super stoked for Saturday!
Clockwise from front: Apple Maple Crisp, Sweet Potato Casserole, Pumpkin Pie, S’Mores
Pumpkin Pie: Pumpkin cake, vanilla buttercream, crushed pie dough
Apple Maple Crisp: Apple maple cake, vanilla buttercream, roasted apple butter, oat crisp, maple syrup
S’Mores: Chocolate cake, speculoos pudding, toasted marshmallow buttercream, ganache, graham cracker crumbs
Sweet Potato Casserole: Sweet potato cake, toasted marshmallow buttercream, demerara sugar