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A little while ago, Untapped Cities reader Matthew C. Hart, an editor who has worked on films like Frances Ha and Memphis, contacted us via Twitter on how one would hypothetically film something at the Staten Island Boat Graveyard. He wrote, “Thought you might have some tips re[garding] trying to film near the boat graveyard. A foolish thing to try or…”?

We recommended kayak, and you can see the results in this video for the band Vaults, a synth pop trio from London. The atmospheric video cuts between the winter landscape of the boat graveyard and an arty scene in a bathtub. Matthew talks to us about the process of shooting in an illicit, abandoned location:

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[The Staten Island Boat Graveyard is] divided into two areas – the actual scrapyard itself where you can enter the ships, which we we were warned was a no go police-wise, and the sort of wasteland part (covered in broken bits of laptops, condoms & whiskey bottles) which has the view you see in the video. Luckily we were more interested in capturing the dystopian beauty of the wide shots. The mix of industrial with the natural there really struck us as beautiful so we decided we just had to come back on the day [of shooting] and risk it… 

They opted not to put $100,000 of camera gear into a kayak, but found a way to carry it all in protective rain covers early in the morning.

Known as the Witte Marine Scrap Yard, the Arthur Kill Boat Yard, or simply the “Staten Island Boat Graveyard,” the city’s only remaining commercial marine salvage yard is located in Rossville, Staten Island, near the Fresh Kills Landfill. See more photos of the post-apocalyptic site here.

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