In 2013, I had the privilege of being asked to participate in the TrIP project. TrIP (Transit Interpretation Project) is a collection of artists’ interpretations of the city they live in via the public transit system. In Orlando, specifically, this system is the LYNX bus. Writers, painters, photographers, musicians. For this piece I was fortunate enough to collaborate with award-winning writer, Vanessa Blakeslee, and we set out one late-November morning to see what Orlando had to offer us on LYNX bus route 40.
To set the scene, this route departs from the main Lynx station in downtown Orlando and makes its way on to Universal Studios, a distance of approx. 12 miles. With several stops along the way, however, this bus ride can take up to about two hours depending on traffic. The weather was chilly and wet, while the coffee couldn’t flow fast enough. I had no idea what to expect so I just kept shooting. And shooting. And shooting. First introductions to the every-morning “route-runners” was a mix of smiles, scowls, droopy eyes half-glazed in slumber. This was their morning. Every morning. Monday through Friday, if not more. The bus rumbled on from stop to stop with a persistence met only by the increasing number of slow, lumbering bodies and loud air-pressured bus door sonatas. Opening and closing. Opening and closing. Sort of an ever recurring reminder that told these people, “Hey! It’s time to get UP!” The smells were interesting, too. Doughnuts, coffee, and what you sadly start to expect from the more transient of this transient community.
First impressions for us quickly wore off, however, giving place to one of the most intimate and incredible experiences I’ve ever had in the city or Orlando. On this bus, Vanessa and I both experienced an amazing culture of workers, laborers, single-mothers with three jobs, filmmakers and foreigners alike. All on the bus. All with a story. One woman was a writer from Johannesburg. One gentleman was from Miami visiting his Aunt. “I have a yacht!” he proudly reports, “I just like riding the bus when I’m in town!” Young culinary arts students, AT&T reps, people dressed as cartoon characters for one of the many, many Universal attractions were seen shaking themselves into character, into life as the route 40 bus lead them out to their day, or back from their night, ever with the promise of returning them where they had just come from….eventually….
Juxtaposing the experience of the bus trip itself with the various environments we visited along the way, TrIP is a look at the real, every-day images, colors, feelings of Orlandos’ LYNX route 40. Back and forth, day after day, the consistent, never ending engine of tourism, theme parks, residents and the homeless played back to, really, the tune that was stuck in my head the entire time. This concept has started to move elsewhere throughout the country, and I hope it continues to do so. I can’t recommend it enough, and hope that I’ll be asked to contribute again someday, eager and ready to travel among those whose lives, for now, are woven with that of the bus line.
Directed / Shot / Edited by Woodruff Laputka
Featuring Vanessa Blakeslee (vanessablakeslee.com)
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Sonata No. 11 in A First Movement.
Thanks to Pat Greene – The Lynx Bus -The City of Orlando – The Corridor Project (thecorridorproject.com)
2013. Laputka Films.