New York City has an ecosystem all its own: The sub-species in North Brooklyn survive with vintage clothing that costs more than current clothing; people in the Bronx keep it chill in the park; financial district Manhattanites trample over their lower-income prey with no remorse; and Staten Islanders are basically nonexistent.
At least, this is the case of a video gaining traction online. It took three millennials three days of shooting to come up with the three-minute video spoofing a typical Planet Earth documentary, complete with slo mo, accented narrator, and some heavy use of a long lens (gotta stay safe while filming New York mammals).
Francis Agyapong Jr. and Phill Gladkov wrote and produced the short, and their friend Adisa Duke documented the wildlife. All three are native Brooklynites between the ages of 24 and 26, and say that growing up in the city has allowed for them to find humor in how it’s changing.
The trio have been working together on different video products for Cracking Up in 5, their creative group’s moniker, which aspires to be “the Black Mirror of Comedy,” according to its Vimeo.
“With every episode of our web series we want to shed humor but also shed light on certain societal quirks,” Gladkov said. Those quirks include things like gentrification, income inequality and sexism, all touched on in the video.
“There’s a social economics we’re going for,” Agyapong Jr. explained of the production. He said the Bronx has a reputation for being a rough, poor and black/Latino area, so they showed that, but also added social commentary when a scene shows men catcalling a woman. “I’m black and so is Adisa,” he explained. “It’s real. People do that.”
The project focuses on New Yorkers’ flaws, but something interesting happened during the filming of a scene in which a Financial District “shark” steps on a homeless man (played by Gladkov). In what Gladkov called a “faith in humanity restored” moment, passersby who did not realize the trampling was planned, rushed to him and asked if he was alright.
The longest, and arguably most hilarious, scene focuses on North Brooklyn, where the narrator notes that “we have seen a recent influx of a very invasive species.” Shots of stereotypical hipsters wearing floral patterns and mom jeans emerge from a subway station.
“We’re banned from Smorgasburg now,” Agyapong Jr. joked.
If people watching the video get angry, or take the jabs seriously, it’s important to know the creators are making fun of themselves, too. “We make fun of those cultures but we also have a toe in it,” Agyapong Jr. said.
After all, most of the clothes used in the production were their own.