Dally in the Alley turned 36 this year – and in our opinion…it’s never looked better. The single-day festival celebrating Detroit’s arts and cultural diversity (that – quite literally – is set in the alleys of Cass Corridor) took place on Saturday, September 7th, and local up-and-coming filmmaker Daniel Berhane was on-site, camera in hand.
Daniel’s Dally in the Alley – DAYTIME video surfaced on Facebook Monday morning, and by Wednesday evening, it had already surpassed 2,000 views on YouTube, over 150 Facebook likes, and more than 50 Facebook shares.
CBS 62 chatted with Daniel about his experience at Detroit’s Dally in the Alley, the video that followed, and the man behind the camera.
How did you hear about Dally in the Alley? What drew you to it?
I had heard about Dally from my friends at Wayne [State University]. Every year, I heard amazing stories of the times they had spent there, so this year, I did my best to go out to it, and I was lucky enough to be able to do so! I couldn’t believe this was what I was missing every year!
What made you decide to shoot/edit your first-time Dally experience?
I am a film major and love making videos of the cool places that I visit. Seeing as how this was a huge festival that everybody loves, I thought that everybody would love to see a video about what goes on at Dally. So I decided, why not? It would be good practice for me and everyone would enjoy the video!
Most memorable part of shooting your Dally in the Alley videos?
My favorite part to shoot was when a group of people had just begun to dance in front of me. Everyone making a line (and a circle afterwards) to dance together was so amazing. Everybody was just having fun; the music and dancing brought everyone together from young teens to the older people. While filming that circle, I could feel the joy and fun that everybody was radiating. In that moment in time, everybody forgot all the worries they have in their life and just focused on the music and dancing that was happening in front of them. I have never had this much fun with just random strangers.
From pugs to tie-dye, and bicycles to bongos, you really captured the variety of things to do and people to see at Dally. Tell us about that! How much time did you spend filming?
I arrived at Dally at 6 and filmed ’til 9 ’til my batteries died. Then I filmed again from 10 to 11. Originally, when I got there, I called a couple of my friends to see if I could meet up with them and film them while I walked around; but they never answered, so I decided to go into Dally [solo]. It was nice being at Dally all by myself! I got to go and stop where I wanted and film at certain spots as much as I liked. I always looked for things that were interesting and tried to shoot them from a different angle. When I choose what to film, I always try think of it as if it were a picture…because a picture is a single image, it has to be interesting in order for anyone to actually like it or be interested in it. So, every shot I got was basically a picture that I filmed instead of taking a photo! There were so many things there to film it was crazy, at times I found myself just enjoying what was going on and not filming. I barely skimmed the surface of what Dally really is - I was able to capture a glimpse of it all. Next year, I want to be there all day, maybe even film everyone setting up in all the streets!
What was your favorite thing (or things) you filmed at Dally? (We got a kick out of the “Free Hugs” bit in your DAYTIME video).
Well, my favorite part in the daytime edit is around 3:22 – the camera is going through and there’s a bunch of people sitting. Then [at that point], the song says “Let me live that fantasy,” and as you hear this, you see this guy laying on the ground, hands folded back with red glasses that looks like he is living his own fantasy! My favorite part in the nighttime edit, is at 5:37 - the guy in that shot is so chill in the middle of this giant crowd. They are all jumping around and dancing, and he is content with just swaying and has the biggest smile on his face.
After your Dally experience, did your perception of Detroit change at all?
It showed me that there were people down there that, with all the problems we face everyday – from small ones to big ones – are ready to have fun, even for a second with strangers! I’m sure there are so many more places like this in Detroit and especially downtown. I’m going to try and find some more places like that and hopefully make a small edit out of them also.
Your Dally video’s already hit 2,000 YouTube views since its debut on Monday – and it’s gone viral on Facebook. What’s that like?
To be honest, I knew the video was good and everybody would love it, but the fact that its gotten this much attention is still crazy to me. I am so happy that so many people are happy with it, and the comments they give really shows that they really enjoyed it. I find myself sometimes refreshing the page on the link to the video on YouTube and just watching the view count go up, and it still amazes me when it goes up by even just 1.
What’s your connection to Detroit, and are you in school for something film-related?
Well, my connection to Detroit is Wayne State. I go to school there. I am also a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity Delta Nu chapter, and our house is on Cass. I am currently going to school to get my degree in Film. I actually begun school as a Chemical Engineer major and after a year, changed to Photography, then again to Film. I have been only filming since 2010, so I still have a lot to learn.
Well, we’re glad you made the switch! Any projects we can look forward to?
I have some in mind; I want to do something at the Packard plant with music before it gets torn down. I’m working on it!
What about Detroit makes it such a great backdrop for filming?
Well I think it’s unique because if you need to film with a backdrop of a “dead” neighborhood, you can, unfortunately, find that in Detroit – however, [that same city] also offers you a backdrop of a city that is still beating with life and people in it that are interesting and fun!
What makes you proud being a filmmaker in Detroit?
I haven’t been able to film Detroit as much as I want to yet, but I’m glad that [through film] I can show off the awesome parts of Detroit that a lot of people either don’t see or forget about when all you hear is negative things about Detroit.