‘Humans of New York’ in Motion


Courtesy of Brandon Stanton

Brandon Stanton, the man behind the portraits on Humans of New York, is setting his sights on turning HONY into a docuseries.

Ryan Mikel, Entertainment Editor

Meet Brandon Stanton — a local New York-based photographer — who, by 2013, was listed in Time Magazine’s “30 Under 30” and, by 2017, runs the successful “Humans of New York” (HONY) photoblog. Featuring more than 10,000 intimate interviews with accompanying portraits of random New York street-goers since the blog’s 2010 inception, Stanton’s “Humans of New York” has amassed a following of 7 million and 18 million followers on Instagram and Facebook, respectively. In 2013, Stanton released a book adaption that spent 31 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. This fall, HONY is getting yet another adaptation: Stanton’s passion project is getting its own docuseries.

The docuseries, dating back to pre-production in 2013, is a culmination of more than 400 days of lming and an upwards of 1,200 interviews.

It will be presented in 12 half-hour weekly segments on Facebook’s newest subsidiary, Watch on Facebook — a Netflix-like streaming service where, like everyday Facebook livestreams, viewers can comment and react in real-time. Oscar-nominated producer Julie Goldman, the woman behind critically acclaimed documentaries “Weiner” and “Life, Animated,” will serve as executive producer. Immediately struck by Stanton’s mine of pains- taking testimonial of the everyday New Yorker, Motto Pictures — Goldman’s production company — will produce the HONY docuseries.

The docuseries was announced on Facebook at the tail end of August, with a 90-second trailer and personal statement from Stanton, himself.

The trailer begins with one of Stanton’s thousands of documented street testimonials — an older gentleman with a Dumbledore-like beard and wisdom — conveying the message: “Stories are what women tell their children and what, eventually, their children tell to their children. And the first stories told are how to be human.” Clips of a myriad of colors, cultures and creeds soon follow whilst more testimonials of love, loss and life overlap against such tableaus as a daughter embracing her mother in Central Park, two Middle-Eastern women laughing in a marketplace, and a male dancer leaping in front of the Lincoln Center fountain. At the clip’s end, we are revisited by the aforementioned gentleman, stating “one thing you take with you when you leave is your story.”

“Early on, I realized that video would add a deeper layer to Humans of New York,” Stanton said. “At the heart of all these posts are the conversations themselves… And I always do my best to recreate the experience through photos and words. But I always knew that video would provide the closest thing to actually being there.”

Catch Brandon Stanton, “Humans of New York” and its 1,200 stars at next week’s Tuesday, Sept. 5th premiere on Watch on Facebook.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 5 print edition. Email Ryan Mikel at [email protected].