A young filmmaker dives into a derring-do documentary
By Adam Wisnieski
It’s called C-Rock.
For generations, it has represented summer, freedom and a rivalry over who takes the steepest risks and who are the biggest wimps among local teens.
Now 27-year-old filmmaker Jordan Roth is attempting to capture the dangerous ritual — in which kids jump into the water from a massive shard of rock that towers between the Harlem River Ship Canal and Metro-North’s tracks — in the documentary C-Rock.
“It’s about being a kid … it’s about accessing a much simpler time when you can just act like a kid and you can do something a little dangerous. I think you lose some of that when you grow up,” he said.
Last summer, Mr. Roth spent a few weeks along the canal between the Broadway and Henry Hudson bridges to gather footage.
He hopes the documentary film, currently in post-production, will be ready to enter into festivals by the end of the summer. Mr. Roth is now busy editing and fund raising.
C-Rock is a real New York story, said the filmmaker, who was born in Toronto and currently lives in Chicago. He learned of the rock in 2010 when The New York Times ran an article “A Long Jump to Manhood” about the big jump off the big C.
The rock derives its name from a giant baby blue Columbia University “C” painted by students to impress fans at the college’s Baker Field on the Manhattan side of the canal.
‘I’m not an idiot’
Pete, a classmate of Mr. Roth’s at Montreal’s McGill University, grew up in Riverdale and so Mr. Roth asked him if he had ever jumped.
Pete’s answer was no.
“I asked him … ‘Why not?’ He said, ‘I’m not an idiot,’” Mr. Roth said he replied.
From illegally crossing the Metro-North tracks to the jump itself, there is no doubt it is a dangerous excursion.
That might have turned Pete off, but it enticed Mr. Roth, who thought the story of the rock would make an intriguing documentary. It is the aspiring film and television writer’s first foray into documentary filmmaking.
“For me, making the documentary was very much a leap,” he said.
But it was a story he felt he had to tell.
KeywordsAdam Wisnieski, Jordan Roth, filmmaker, C-Rock, Harlem River Ship Canal, Metro North's tracks, Denis O'Flynn, James Carroll.