Golden Gate Bridge Meets Its (Suicide Docu) Maker

After all, Eric Steel didn't say he wasn't going to film the jumpers off the Golden Gate Bridge when he applied for a permit to shoot the bridge all day, every day, for a year. According to the federal officials who issued him the permit, he described his project as, variously, "a day in the life" of the bridge or "a powerful and spectacular interaction between the monument and nature."

Steel captured 19 jumpers on film, plus "hundreds" of unsuccessful attempts, including some that were thwarted by his crew's alerts to authorities. Then he went to interview people affected.

If Tad Friend's excellent, disturbing 2003 New Yorker piece is to be believed, bridge officials and politicians are rather warily pre-occupied with its reputation as a suicide spot. Which makes their protestations that they were shocked, shocked at the director's "true intentions" ring a little hollow. Friend's article is pretty damning of the bridge's managing board, which adamantly opposes installing suicide-preventing fences.

When you tire of reading self-righteous condemnations from implicated public figures, there are plenty of snap judgments from utterly uninvolved people on Metafilter.

Film captures suicides on Golden Gate Bridge; Angry officials say moviemaker misled them []
Suicide Documentary Angers Golden Gate Bridge Officials []
LETTER FROM CALIFORNIA/ Tad Friend/ Jumpers/ The fatal grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge/ Issue of 2003-10-13 []
The GGB Suicide Documentary [mefi]
Related: Bureau of Inverse Technology's conceptual(-only) art project, "Suicide Box," which was shown at the Whitney Biennial []

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: February 3, 2005.

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