Tom Hanks ran across America in Forrest Gump, amassing a massive following genuinely interested in asking his character why despite the lack thereof and this scene has left many viewers to wonder what’s the logic behind this kind of fascination.
What can cause so many to gather to one person who just seems to be on a personal journey? This question came back in full force with Matt Green’s journey documented in The World Before Your Feet, a walk through every block within all 5 boroughs of New York (including parks, cemeteries, and bridges). If the name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s also the man who walked across America from New York to Oregon. For a numerical understanding, the measurement of every span of walkable distance of New York amounts to about 8000 miles, and took Matt 6-7 years to complete. Initially hearing just the concept, a thought that crosses the mind is that the film will show an intimate look into the vast number of communities throughout New York. Many people only know the city for a few locations, mostly centered within Manhattan, however, the boroughs house the most diverse communities from all walks of life, no pun intended. The documentary follows the same stream of consciousness presented by our main narrator, Matt Green, and in the beginning shifts focus as the nature of the walk shifts. Throwing concept and caution to the wind, the audience joins a piece of the journey to witness the inquisition of a man and unravel self-reflection.
A glance at the production team consists of:
Director/Producer/Editor – Jeremy Workman has been friends with Matt Green for many years, drawn to him during a previous walking expedition. With just a Canon camera in hands, he hopes to share with the public the very nature of Matt that brought them together so many years ago.
Executive Producer – Jesse Eisenberg initially thought this would be another documentary to glance over and pass on within seconds but found himself roped into the words and world of Matt’s mind. Believing that the love for the journey, beyond being a New Yorker himself, lies within seeing himself living the journey Jesse realized it’s not just him, it’s made for everyone.
Original Music Score – Carly Comando & Tom Rosenthal
Additional Music – Max Avery, Lichenstein Rhonda, Mackert Haydn, & Miles
Aerial Cinematographer – Victor Chu
Jeremy Workman joined Matt on Sept 11, 2014, and collected over 600 hours of footage in the span of 3.5 years. Those 600 hours condensed into 1 hour and 36 minutes of viewing, shows us a glimpse of New York City through an inquisitive man’s eyes. Although we as viewers join the walk three years deep, we immediately hear Matt address the question in our minds: why, what is this project for? The answer came swiftly and simply, no reason other than pure desire. Many people, including myself, have always wanted to do something purely for curiosity’s sake and intellectual freedom, however, have always held back. As Matt put it, the most interesting people are those who do things because they genuinely just want to, without ulterior motives or an inspirational purpose in mind. Driven by the curiosity to explore the city beyond what’s normally shown, Matt began his journey with no dramatic goal, outside of walking over 8000 miles that is. No Oscar-grabbing, Oprah book club hot off the shelf, heart-wrenching reason for the walk than his own pure want to. As beautifully simple as that. Upon establishing this notion right in the beginning the audience is taken on a walk around the alleys, sidewalks, dead ends, any walkable land of NYC glancing at an ever-changing environment. Backed by a strict $15 a day budget, couch surfing, and the shelter of cat sitting, Matt continues to document his journey on his blog similarly to previous adventures. 600 hours allows us to glance at changing seasons between footsteps, people’s ever-changing nuances, spacious homes, cramped spaces, and every possible avenue of life. Premiering at the QUAD Nov 21st, catch the trailer below for a preview of a project full of life:
Director/Producer/Editor/Cinematographer: Jeremy Workman
Executive Producer: Jesse Eisenberg
Music By: Max Avery Lichtenstein, Carly Comando, and Tom Rosenthal
Distributor: GREENWICH ENTERTAINMENT
Despite our ability to attach waxing poetic words to an interpretation of the documentary, at the end of the day we have to remember Matt’s message to us all: there’s no specific reason. We can come up with a multitude of reasons to refute that purpose, however, at the end of the day, it will always be a self-reflection. The documentary progresses from Matt meeting with various people and sharing his story, to his own story, until we settle on the pockets of knowledge provided from his research of every building that piques his interest. Delving into the personal life of Matt is meant to provide background information and understanding of the main subject of the documentary, however, it also provides insight into Jeremy’s vision. With no center focus or plot for the documentary, Matt’s stream of consciousness becomes infectious and the audience draws inspiration from the film through self-reflection. What in Matt’s journey or the film do we relate with, and what for? Similar to the audience pulling elements of life in the film that appear subjectively intriguing, the man behind the camera does the same. Jeremy weaves in the personal story of Matt through interviews and glimpses of family and exes in order to give the audience more information to piece together the mindset of the main subject. If we know what makes Matt tick, we can understand the message of the project better, we can walk those miles in this shoes. By doing so, Jeremy establishes himself as a silent narrator guiding the audience through a three and a half years journey across the boroughs. Jeremy is inquisitive to the inner workings of Matt’s mind and what makes an individual wake up one day to put aside a job, family, and stability to take on a life-consuming “project” that goes further than that title. No clear answer is provided to questions, in fact, we come out with more questions that all reflect our own desires, wants, and perhaps our inherent desire to get up and just go.
Two factors immediately pique two different demographics; NYC being the base for the project & the full-time role of walking for Matt Green. Despite being based in NY, the film’s fleeting glances of every aspect of NYC’s architecture and lost history doesn’t satiate history buffs or those looking to learn more about New York. The group of people watching from outside NY will find their eyes being drawn towards Matt and the lifestyle he’s chosen. Their minds focused on the inherent freedom radiating from his words, photos, and childlike curiosity. For New Yorkers, current and former, the film invokes a strange sense of nostalgia; though the shots of the city are quick, each are saturated in so much life, it’s potent. Every neighborhood and sidewalk seems all so familiar and not at the same time. Though each of us may have taken similar steps in all those places, it’s as if it’s being seen for the first time and the hundredth time. But what Matt truly shows is that, no matter how many years one spends in New York City, it continues to have something new to see, experience, and live. Moments of life are bubbling up on every inch of each borough tied together, all some footsteps away.
In NYC at the QUAD on Wednesday, Nov. 21st and in Los Angeles at the Nuart Theater on Friday, Nov. 23rd