L train shutdown documentary seeks funds to expand scope

L train shutdown documentary seeks funds to expand scope

When the Metropolitan Transportation Authority first announced plans to shut down the heavily trafficked L train to make repairs following Hurricane Sandy, documentarian Emmett Adler saw an opportunity. Amidst an outpouring of despair in the media and online, the filmmaker decided to chronicle the fallout of what was initially expected to be an 18-month closure.

As plans continued to be hammered out by city officials, Adler began to collect interviews with key players, including politicians, commuters, business owners and activists. Over the course of filming, the crew gathered over a hundred hours of footage. With a trove of material collected, the goal of the then-East Williamsburg resident was to provide a comprehensive take on the shutdown and the approximately 250,000 riders it would affect.

Then, in Jan. 2019, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the L train would not stop operating, despite three years of planning. Instead, the damaged tunnel connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan would be repaired using technology that would allow for the trains to remain running on a modified schedule.

With the scope modified, the film continued. Now titled “The End of the Line,” the documentary shifted focus slightly to tease out the larger connections between New York City’s transit policy and how the system failings might be emblematic of infrastructure issues nationwide. The film, as it is currently structured follows three story lines: the L train shutdown, the New York City subway crisis at large and the current state of America’s mass transit.

The filmmaker is now seeking funds to help finish the documentary, which released a new trailer, along with a KickStarter, last week.

In a video address, Adler notes that when he began the film, he could not have foreseen that the “New York subway crisis would unfold and similar transit emergencies would occur across the nation.” The director continues in his statement: “This film grew, and it became about the millions of Americans who suffer subpar transit daily.”

Sine launching the campaign, the crew has raised $21,228 of its $25,000 goal. The funds, according to the project’s KickStarter, will allow Adler and his team to finish character stories and film additional interviews with experts. The planned release date for the film is currently set for early 2021.