When the weather warms up, denizens of some of New York City’s more bohemian enclaves don’t flee for the Hamptons, they head to Queens and the beloved beach at Fort Tilden. It’s this very trip that’s charted in Fort Tilden, the SXSW Grand Jury Prize-winning feature from directors Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers, which is screening this weekend at New York’s Lower East Side Film Festival.
And while star Clare McNulty is herself a Brooklyn resident, she says the film brought her to New York’s most buzzed-about beach—where hip twenty-somethings travel by the busload, literally, to frolic in the surf—for the very first time.
“I had never been to Fort Tilden before, and I’d only been to the Rockaways maybe once,” she admits. “I don’t go to the beach often. It’s not because I don’t want to, I just tend to have too much stuff to do.”
It also might be a question of habit.
“I grew up in Arizona,” she says, “so I think maybe getting to the beach is just not ingrained in me. I’m used to being landlocked, so it doesn’t occur to me as much as it does to other people.”
Still, for her character Allie, getting out to the beach—the destination for her character and a roommate, whose trip leads them on a series of misadventures across Brooklyn—is a primary motivation.
And for McNulty, the trip was equally worthwhile.
“The shoot for this film was really fun because it was the end of last summer and the perfect time to be outside,” she says. “The majority of the film was shot outside, so it was a little bit like a summer vacation in and around Brooklyn. It was shot in Bushwick, Williamsburg, Clinton Hill, Park Slope, Flatbush and then down, of course, in the Rockaways.”
It’s an experience she’s eager to repeat.
“I do want to go back to Fort Tilden,” she says. “Sarah-Violet and I have talked about taking a day off, going out there and kind of recreating the movie. To tell you the truth, we didn’t actually film on the beach at Fort Tilden, We filmed all of the beach scenes at [nearby] Jacob Riis. So actually being on the beach in Fort Tilden’s will kind of be a new experience.”