The first night of shooting, Bell was able to earn the trust of the kids by doing something unexpected. They were filming in the Dismas Center, a facility that provides food, counseling, and recreation for kids. Suddenly Chrissie, a sixteen-year-old street kid, became very angry with Bell for filming her. To everyone's amazement, Bell opened his camera magazine and gave her the exposed roll of film. Chrissie stormed out, holding the roll of film, which was later found crumpled on the sidewalk. After that incident, whenever Chrissie saw Mark and Bell on the street, she wanted to be filmed and to be their friend. By giving Chrissie the exposed film, Bell showed her and the other kids that he was not trying to steal something from them. If the kids wanted to be part of the film that was fine, but if they didn't want to, that was OK. too. Bell understood that it was hard for these kids to trust anyone, but he hoped they would learn to trust him enough to make the film.

From Labor Day to Halloween, 1983, Bell shot 50 hours of film. Many more hours of audio were recorded by Keith Desmond. The editor, Nancy Baker, reduced the dailies to 10 hours in a matter of weeks. Six months later, Baker had constructed the film Streetwise.

The film was released in theaters nationwide in 1984 by Joseph Saleh & Angelika Saleh - Angelika Films, and was nominated for an Oscar in 1985. Janet Maslin reviewed Streetwise for the New York Times. Mary Ellen Mark's book, Streetwise, was first published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 1988.
Transcript of the film Streetwise
STREETWISE
1985, 92 min
Run Clip
Poster


Run Clip
Shadow: "I consider myself a playboy. As a boyfriend, you're obligated to one girl. I considered myself dependent upon a couple of girls supporting me. But as far as being a pimp, I never pushed them out onto the streets. You can't be a boyfriend and have three girlfriends. But you can be a playboy. A playboy is what I consider myself."

Seattle, 1983
Alabama Dewayne
Annie Drugs
Antoine Eddie
Baby Gramps Erica
Biker Kim Floyd
Black Junior J.R.
Breezy James
Buddha Jimi
Butch John
Calvin Juan
Chrissie Justin
Dawn Kevin
CAST
Kim Red Dog
Lillie Roberta
Lora Lee Russ
Lulu Sam
Melissa Shadow
Michele Shellie
Mike Smurf
Munchkin Sparkles
Patrice Tiny
Patti Tracy
Peehole White Junior
Rat William
Thanks to
Michael Abramson Harry Johnston
Judge Patrica Aitken Teresa Kiilsgaard, Dismas Center
Brenda Andrews, Seattle Plasma Corp. Billie Jean King
Candice Bergen Dorothy Lacey
Donald Blank Bob Lampe
Alan Blecker John Lee
Larry Blicher Eileen Lovejoy, Division of Juvenile Rehabilitation
Mavis Bonnar, Free Adolescent Clinic Louis Malle
David Breskin Doug McFeron, Sunshine Inn
Julie Brumlik, Scarlett Letters, Inc. Timothy McGarry, Eastside Defenders Assn.
Howard Burris, Coffee Hut Ismail Merchant
Burlington Northern Railroad Kathy Moots, Seattle Plasma Corp.
Connie Butler Bob Megginson
Richard Carlson, King County Dept. of Youth Services Lawrence H. Myers
Jun Candara, Galaxy Video Simon Nuchtern
Carl Charlson John Ogren, Dismas Center
Bob Ciano, Life Art Director Steve O’Leary, Seattle P.D.
Cinergy Communications Corp. Lucy Ostrander
Ken Cole, Downtown Emergency Service Center Elizabeth Owen
Ray Coleman, King County Adult Detention Judge Walter Palmer
Michael Coty Lemar Pomeroy
Cynthia Coxwell Leon Preston, Division of Juvenile Rehabilitation
Gary Da Silva Mario Puzo
Dr. Robert Deisher, Free Adolescent Clinic Pat Rappell
Roxy Doremus Dr. Laura Robinson, Free Adolescent Clinic
Rick Downing Rev. Tom Robinson
Neville Druce, Micron Radio Microphone Karla Rosenthal, Juvenile Hall
William Dwyer, Culp, Dwyer, Guterson & Grader George Ruhe, Lutheran Compass Center
Chris Eckman Joseph J. M. Saleh
Susan Emerson Michael Salzman
Jerry Esterly, Division of Juvenile Rehabilitation Dan Sandburg
Pastor James A. Fergin, Lutheran Compass Center Dr. R.E. Silver
Chuck Fey Mollie Smock
Jim Fisk, Seattle P.D. Richard B. Stolley, Managing Editor of Life
Jim French, Kiro Newsradio Robert Sturgill
Berenice Gartrell, Juvenile Detention Manager Sharon Sumpter, Seattle Plasma Corp.
Gentner/Birdsall Films Gwen Thomas
Carol Gino Guy Thurber
Judge William C. Goodloe Jamie Tillman, Dismas Center
Conrad Hall Paula K. Tolliver
Tom Hamilton Trans/Audio Inc.
Kaye Silas-Harrison TVC Video
Michael Hausman The Twibells, Mills & Mills  Funeral Service
Sandra Herald, Seattle Plasma Corp. Jack Vorisek
David Hollander, Parker, Auspitz, Nessemann & Delehanty Linda Walton, King County Prosecutor’s Office
Jack Hunt, Custom Tattoo Francine Waskowicz
Stu Hyatt Cynthia S. Wills
John Irving Rob Wittig, Transcriptions
James Ivory Robert Wyatt, St. Regis Laundromat
Gloria Jaeger Rusty Ungar
Ruth Prawner Jhabvala Rosemary Zilmer, Catholic Community Services
Harry Johnston Jack Zipay
Run Clip
Rat: "She's only fourteen years old and she makes it sound like she's ready to get married."

Rat & Tiny, Seattle, 1983
PRODUCTION
A Film by
Martin Bell
Mary Ellen Mark
Cheryl McCall

Developed from the Life magazine story "Streets of the Lost"
photographed by Mary Ellen Mark written by Cheryl McCall


Director

Martin Bell

Producers
Cheryl McCall - producer
Connie Nelson - executive producer
Willie Nelson - executive producer
Angelika T. Saleh - executive producer

Cinematography by
Martin Bell

Film Editor
Nancy Baker
Sound Department
Keith Desmond
- sound engineer
Meredith Birdsall - sound editor
Jonathan Oppenheim - sound editor
Pola Rapaport - sound re-recording mixer
Janet Swanson - sound editor
Dick Vorisek - sound re-recording mixer

Camera and Electrical Department
Douglas Pellegrino - assistant camera
Eve Pellegrino - assistant camera

Editorial Department
Meredith Birdsall - associate film editor
Jonathan Oppenheim - associate film editor
Anne-Marie Vitello - negative cutter
Ron Vitello - negative cutter

Other crew
Diane Birdsall - production assistant
Jan Stone Hall - production assistant
Barbara Kurgan - title designer
Mickey Cottrell - publicist (uncredited)
In April 1983, reporter Cheryl McCall and photographer Mary Ellen Mark traveled to Seattle, Washington, for a LIFE Magazine assignment about runaway kids. They chose Seattle because, at that time, it was known as America's most livable city.

Mark first saw Erin Blackwell in the parking lot of a Seattle discotheque called "The Monastery." A big station wagon taxi pulled up and two little girls, who appeared to be about ten and twelve years old, stepped out. The girl who looked twelve was actually almost fourteen and her street name was Tiny. The other girl was her friend Phillis who was eleven. They both wore tight sweaters, tight jeans, and lots of make-up. They looked like little girls playing "dress up," and they were amazing. It was the beginning of a long relationship which continues today.

The next morning Mark spoke to her husband, filmmaker Martin Bell, and told him about the lives of the Seattle street children, and about meeting Tiny. At that moment, they decided they must come back to Seattle to make a film.

McCall and Mark returned to New York in mid May. In July 1983, the article "Streets of the Lost" article appeared in LIFE Magazine.

McCall raised $80,000 from her friend, singer/songwriter, Willie Nelson. The additional money needed to shoot the film was invested by McCall, Mark & Bell. They all knew that the kids had a special story to tell. In late August 1983, they returned to Seattle to make Streetwise.
Video: Baby Gramps introduces the cast of Pike Street kids to Teddy Bears Picnic. 2:26 min
Video: Rat: "She's only fourteen years old and she makes it sound like she's ready to get married." 50 sec
Video: Shadow: "I consider myself a playboy. As a boyfriend, you're obligated to one girl 1:26 min
Video: Early morning on Rainbow Bridge, Rat leaps eighty feet into the water. 42 sec