Hidden in NYC’s subway system there is a thriving subculture, rail fans; young men from the inner city who head into the subway not to travel from A to B, but to revel in the sights and sounds of the system. See what the city’s subway obsessives find so fascinating about this sprawling, crowded and broken-down system – riding the subway in order to escape.

Winner of the CINE Golden Eagle – best youth documentary.

Rail Fan delves into the so far unseen subculture of New York City rail fanning. Filmed within the city’s subway system, we move by train, up and down escalators and along underground passageways, following four inner city youth who represent the community at large – the network is a world unto itself, they traverse this vast system, developing our understanding with each passing station. What sort of escape does the world of the subway offer these youth?

The film is stylistically unique, showing no on camera interview. We watch the rail fans revel in their beloved system while we listen to their voices. They explore their feelings for the subway, the changes taking place in today’s system and what that means for the city at large.
My objective in making this film was to marry an artistic vision with socially relevant story telling. The rail fan’s reflections on city life are indicative of the seismic social and economic changes taking place in New York City today.

With cinematography focussed on the movement inherent to the subway, and sound design tuned to bring out this rumbling, screeching world which the rail fans love so much, the film underscores these young men’s obsession in detail.  

Rail Fan offers a unique and artful take on a city that has so often featured in films. To find a new way to tell its story and to cast light on one of the city’s unacknowledged tribes is no small feat.

Produced, filmed and edited by James Stuart.

Find out more at railfannyc.com

© James Stuart