Ben Asciutto: “The New, New York City”

Hello! My name is Ben Asciutto, he/him, and I am a rising third year student dual-majoring in Business & Film and Media Studies with an Honors Joint Degree. On campus, I am excited to be the incoming Executive Producer of Pitt Tonight, Pitt’s one-and-only student-run late night talk show. Aside from my academic and extracurricular interests, I love playing soccer, watching movies, and spending time with friends.

Growing up, I always loved movies and had a newfound passion for photography in high school. Upon enrolling in Pitt, I figured why not combine the two and study film? Without movies and television, I’m not sure how many of us would have gotten through this long quarantine. The pandemic quarantine brings me to my involvement in the Creative Arts Fellowship. I applied with the idea of making my first documentary film. This summer was the perfect time to hone in on the craft of filmmaking as well as give me an opportunity to create my own, personal film.

As a resident of New Jersey, I live in commuter heaven. For my entire life I have been a stone’s throw from the greatest city in the world: New York City. During various times in my life, both of my parents have commuted into the business hub of America (hence my second major), so I immediately formed a close connection to NYC. Over the course of the pandemic, I witnessed a much different, emptier place. Hundreds of stores had closed their doors, millions of employees left their offices to work remotely, and thousands of New Yorkers have died from a novel virus.

As the city takes a new turn with mass vaccinations, there are important questions that I hope to spotlight in this film. With help from my faculty mentor, Hillary Demmon, I have been interviewing city officials, healthcare workers, teachers, small business owners, real estate agents and many more in an attempt to understand how New York City will recover post-COVID-19. How do you live in a city when density is a danger? How does Broadway recover? How do the restaurants come back? What do you do with a half-vacant skyscraper? What shifted in the collective consciousness of the people when Sinatra’s “city that never sleeps” was faced with empty clubs, empty streets, empty office buildings, and empty churches? 

There are big questions that need to be addressed, but NYC is currently at an interesting point in time. There is the chance to create real change where congestion, high prices and safety concerns can be severely reduced and reinvented. My documentary this summer will not be able to answer all of these unprecedented issues, but rather bring awareness to the obstacles that will impact how to forge a new, New York City.

If anyone would like to learn more, share suggestions/advice or have questions to ask, feel free to contact me at Thanks for reading!

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