By Jessica Moore

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new documentary follows five young filmmakers as they navigate the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.

They say channeling their frustration into art saved their lives.

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It’s an unfiltered look at New York City’s new normal from five young filmmakers struggling to survive the greatest disruption of their lives.

CBS2’s Jessica Moore spoke with Shane Fleming, Aracelie Colon and Arlet Guallpa about documenting their experiences living through a global pandemic.

“What was the inspiration behind the film?” Moore asked.

“Necessity,” Fleming said.

“Growing up Latino or seeing your parents going to work, I just wanted to document all those things that people can connect with, especially during that time,” Guallpa said.


They’re all children of essential workers, watching their parents risk their lives every day to keep the city running while struggling to make ends meet at home.

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All three agree the toll on their mental health was nearly unbearable.

In one moment in the documentary, Colon says, “I have no support systems because school is shut down. There’s no guidance counselors. I can’t even get out of this d*** apartment because there’s no traveling and the world is just crumbling right now as I speak.”

The raw, unfiltered look at real life during the pandemic caught the attention of HBO.

Now, hundreds of hours of personal home videos have been turned into a full-length documentary called “COVID Diaries NYC.”

“I never ever pictured this happening,” Guallpa said. “It was a dream come true honestly.”

“My mom was obviously super proud. She’s like, are you going to get an Oscar?’ And I’m just like, I don’t know, but I’m going to go on HBO, so that’s already kind of like a big win for me.”

“I agree, it is a huge accomplishment, but I think, you know, on to the next thing,” Fleming said.

The art that gave them purpose during the pandemic is now opening the door to a brighter future.

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The filmmakers are part of Manhattan’s Downtown Community Television Center, a community-focused program that gives opportunities to young artists.

Jessica Moore