Martin Bell's groundbreaking, Academy Award-nominated 1984 documentary Streetwise introduced us to a fiercely independent group of homeless and troubled youth who made their way on the streets of Seattle as pimps, prostitutes, panhandlers, and small-time drug dealers. Of the unforgettable children featured in Streetwise, none was more charismatic than its beguiling, self-possessed thirteen-year-old protagonist "Tiny." Tiny (Erin Blackwell, who earned her street name due to her size) dreamt of living on a horse farm, of diamonds and furs, and of having ten children.

It was documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark who set Streetwise in motion. Bell and Mark had met on a back lot of London's Pinewood film studios in 1980. Mark was there, making stills for Miloš Forman's forthcoming film Ragtime (1981). Bell was the cinematographer on a documentary focusing on Ragtime's star, James Cagney. Bell recalls the moment he first met Mark, who very quickly became his partner in life and love, up until her death in 2015. Bell:

"This beautiful woman with waves of curly black hair walked by, and she was festooned in cameras. And, she smiled. I thought she was smiling at somebody else, and then I realized she was smiling at me. And then she said, "You're working on this thing with Jimmy Cagney, right? I just got this great picture of him. If you go around the corner now, you'll get something wonderful." And that, essentially, is the story of our relationship."

From that point on they traveled together—to Bali, to India, to Mexico . . . looking for a project to realize together. In 1983, both Mark's and Bell's desire for a great story they could collaborate on was fulfilled beyond anything they could have imagined. Bell, who is British, was again in London when he got the call:

"Mary Ellen called me from Seattle where she was on assignment for Life magazine to photograph teenagers who were homeless and living on the streets of downtown Seattle, which had just been voted America's most livable city. She'd met Tiny her first night photographing, and knew immediately that she was a "star." She told me, "she's beautiful, engaging, smart, and impossible to forget." But Tiny ran away from her that first night—she thought Mary Ellen was a cop. But Mary Ellen—who never gave up—found someone who knew where Tiny lived, and went to see her."

That meeting changed all of their lives forever. Mark's work on this project was first published, in 1988, as the book Streetwise, in keeping with the name of Bell's film. Following that first encounter with Tiny over thirty years ago, Mark and Bell continued to regularly photograph and film Tiny, respectively, creating what became one of their most significant and long-term projects. In 2015 Mark's book Tiny: Streetwise Revisited was published by Aperture, with her full engagement and collaboration. Mary Ellen Mark died, having completed all of her work on this collection, which incorporates the most powerful images from her earlier book Streetwise, and then takes us through Tiny's life, from a thirteen-year-old to a middle-aged mother of ten.

Synergistically, Bell's soon-to-be-released documentary film, TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell, weaves together thirty years of at- times devastating footage, including never-before-seen sequences from the filming of Streetwise, to intimately chronicle Erin Blackwell's complex story.

The commitment both artists made to narrating Tiny's life, the very fact of this longterm, ongoing relationship, and the trust it engendered, is in itself extraordinary. Tiny often granted them what Bell refers to as "the privilege of being invisible. Tiny has always been so forthright about who she is, so unself-conscious." Other times, Mark and Blackwell—both strong, willful women—challenged each other with a raw directness matched by equally fervent, mutual respect. Still, Mark and Bell's presence, almost right from the start, became startlingly second nature to Tiny, her street community, her mother, and subsequently, Tiny's children. Life went on as it would have—whether or not they were there to document.

Early on Mark and Bell offered to bring Tiny back to New York City to live with them—the only caveat that she commit to going to school. Tiny said "no," and so Mark and Bell continued to bear witness to Tiny's life, as it unfolded on the streets and in the environs of Seattle.

  • Reykjavík International Film Festival
  • Thursday September 29th @ 1:30pm
  • Bíó Paradís, Reykjavik
  •  
  • Friday September 30th @ 7:45pm
  • Bíó Paradís, Reykjavik
  •  
  • Sunday October 9th @ 3:30pm
  • Bíó Paradís, Reykjavik
  •  
  • [ Buy Tickets ]
  • Seattle Public Library
  • Friday October 14th @ 6pm
  • Central Library, 1000 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA
  •  
  • Screening will be followed by a Q&A with
  • Martin Bell, Erin Blackwell and a leading housing advocate
  •  
  • Screening is free and open to the public
  •  
  • [ Info ]

  • Past Screenings
  • BAMcinemaFest
  • Saturday June 25th @ 2pm
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Seattle International Film Festival
  • Sunday May 29th @ 4pm
  • AMC Pacific Place 11
  •  
  • Monday May 30th @ 11am
  • AMC Pacific Place 11

Tiny: Streetwise Revisited” includes over 140 photographs from both the original Streetwise book and Mary Ellen's subsequent visits with Erin and her family over the past 32 years. The book also features an introduction by Isabelle Allende as well as John Irving's introduction to “Streetwise.”

Published by Aperture
Photographs by Mary Ellen Mark
Afterword by Mary Ellen Mark
Introduction by Isabelle Allende
Text by John Irving
10 x 12 in. (25.4 x 30.48 cm)
184 pages
143 duotone images
Hardcover with jacket
Fall 2015

BUY NOW @ Amazon.com

for ME

Falkland Road Presents

TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell

Produced by Martin Bell & Mary Ellen Mark

Directed by Martin Bell

Our deepest gratitude to Erin and her family for sharing their lives with us

  • Daylon
  • Daylon Jr.
  • D'Vonne
  • E'Mari
  • Erin
  • J'Lisa
  • Julian
  • Kayteonna
  • Keanna
  • Khloe
  • LaShawndrea
  • Mikka
  • Pat
  • Ranaja
  • Rayshon
  • Will

Our sincere thanks to all the Streetwise “kids” then and now

  • Butch
  • Chrissie
  • Dawn
  • Dewayne
  • Drugs
  • Kevin
  • Lilly
  • Lou Lou
  • Melissa
  • Mike
  • Munchkin
  • Patrice
  • Patty
  • Rat
  • Roberta
  • Shadow
  • Shellie
  • Tiny

In Memory of

  • Butch
  • Cheryl
  • Dewayne
  • Diane
  • Keith
  • Lou Lou
  • Mary Ellen
  • Patty
  • Roberta
  • Photographs by
  • Mary Ellen Mark
  •  
  • Cinematographer
  • Martin Bell
  •  
  • Sound
  • Keith Desmond & Martin Bell
  •  
  • Editor
  • Martin Bell
  •  
  • Associate Producers
  • Julia Bezgin & Meredith Lue
  •  
  • Line Producer
  • Julia Bezgin
  •  
  • Camera Assistant
  • Hollis Meminger
  •  
  • Sound & Photography Assistant
  • Timothy Daley
  •  
  • Photography Assistant
  • Chae Kihn
  •  
  • Assistant Editor
  • Anna Watts
  •  
  • Sound Designer & Re-Recording Mixer
  • Tom Paul
  •  
  • Sound designer
  • Andrea Bella
  •  
  • Dialog editor & Foley editor
  • Michael Feuser
  •  
  • Foley artist
  • Leslie Bloome
  •  
  • Foley mixer
  • Ryan Collison
  •  
  • Foley assistant
  • Jonathan Fang
  •  
  • Post Production Services
  • Big Sky Editorial
  •  
  • Negative Cutter
  • Chris Franklin
  •  
  • Post Production Supervisor
  • Valerie Lasser
  •  
  • VFX
  • Grayson Blackmon
  • Ryan Sears
  •  
  • Scanning and Digital Intermediate Services
  • Nice Shoes
  •  
  • Colorist
  • Chris Ryan
  •  
  • Data I/O
  • Tom Tomlinson
  •  
  • Title Design
  • BLT Helps
  •  
  •  
  • Outreach & engagement made possible with support from
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  •  
  •  
  • Impact Producers
  • Mikaela Beardsley & Patricia Finneran
  • Story Matters
  •  
  •  
  • Special thanks to:
  • Dawn Baillie
  • Nancy Baker
  • Caleb Bardgett
  • Dora Bremond Anspach
  • Chris Franklin
  • Sloane Klevin
  • Valerie Lasser
  • Doug Pellegrino
  • Our Thanks to the following people who lent their support, assistance and encouragement

    • American Genre Film Archive
    • Captain Troy Bacon
    • Katie Barfield
    • Jason Behenna
    • Candice Bergen
    • Kristy Dees
    • Coach Cameron Dollar
    • Kelly Cutrone
    • Jerry Esterly
    • Melissa Harris
    • Healing Hearts Ranch
    • Lynne & Harold Honickman
    • Kathy Kaplan
    • Christina Kim
    • Kollin Min
    • Marcia & Richard Mishaan
    • Honorable Judith H. Ramseyer
    • Honorable J. Wesley Saint Clair
    • Seattle University Basketball
    • Tommy Swenson
    • Michael & Jane Wilson
    • Zaxcom
    •  
    • Thank you to our Kickstarter Backers
    •  
    • Music By
    • Glenn Patscha
    •  
    • "The Teddy Bears' Picnic"
    • Performed by Baby Gramps
    • Written by Bratton Kennedy
    •  
    • Original Song
    • "Tom Traubert's Blues"
    • Written & Performed by Tom Waits
    •  
    • Copyright Falkland Road Inc.
    •  
    • www.tinythefilm.com
    •  
    •  
    • Kickstarter Backers
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the Stranger: See this Show: An Epic, Free Art Exhibition at the Library Goes Inside the Life of Tiny from Streetwise

FILMMAKER MAGAZINE: The Full-Time Job of Survival: Martin Bell on Streetwise and TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell

BROOKLYN: “Stark and Extremely Dangerous”: Talking to Martin Bell about Streetwise and Tiny, at BAMcinemaFest

BLOUINARTINFO: the-continuous-conversation-mary-ellen-mark-martin-bell-and tiny

i-D: tiny-the-haunting-sequel-to-an-iconic-documentary-about-seattle-street-kids

Seattle Times: Three decades after 'Streetwise' documentary, 'Tiny' struggles and dreams on.

The Huffington Post: How A 14-Year-Old Sex Worker Became One Of Photography’s Greatest Muses The love story of photographer Mary Ellen Mark and her muse, Tiny.

LA Times: Street kids, poverty and fortitude: Photographer Mary Ellen Mark's stirring last project

ABC News: Quintessential Mary Ellen Mark: The Evolution of a Girl Nicknamed 'Tiny'

i-D: revisiting mary ellen mark's powerful photos of seattle street kids

eclectic: TINY: THE LIFE OF ERIN BLACKWELL TO WORLD PREMIERE AT SIFF

KPLU Sound Effect: Interview with Erin Blackwell

CNN: Streetwise' revisited: Teen prostitute finds motherhood, stability

Vice: Looking Back at Mary Ellen Mark's Iconic Photos of a Prostitute Named Tiny

Aperture: Tiny: Streetwise Revisited, photographs by Mary Ellen Mark

300E-183-029

Mike, Cheryl McCall, Patti, Munchkin, Mary Ellen Mark and Rat, Pike Street, Seattle 1983

600Y-043-20A

Martin Bell, Mary Ellen Mark, Keanna, and Erin Blackwell, Seattle, 1990

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Tiny and Martin Bell, Hollywood, 1984

403K-003-004

Martin Bell filming on Pike Street, Seattle, 1983

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Tiny and Martin Bell, Seattle, 1983

The Takeaway by Melissa Harris

With a searing lack of sentimentality, TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell offers no easy path for advocacy. The film has no obvious constituents. It appeals to no particular set of politics. It is, simply, that Tiny is a human being, and thus, she matters. And those ten children who were brought into the world are now part of our larger humanity as well. The film forces its viewers to think, and to question:

--What role does school, community, religious institutions, social and legal institutions, friends, and extended family play, when a parent, when a child, is in trouble?

--How may we help families to heal, to cohere, to become self-reliant, and to thrive, rather than to further tear them apart, when there is clear dysfunction?

--How may we be proactive? For those thinking of tax dollars, clearly, the cost of not being proactive, of picking up the pieces, is infinitely worse...

TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell makes it clear that whatever we are doing as a society is not working to fight poverty, to fight addiction, to fight homelessness, to be sure our children are safe, and our schools are equipped and funded so that teachers—with eyes wide open—may pick up where parents, even if just momentarily, fall short.

How will our children—who did not ask to be born—be cared for and nourished in every respect, so these cycles just don't endlessly repeat? A teacher who is paying attention, who recognizes and encourages a child's potential, can make all the difference.

This gripping, disquieting film in which "happily ever after" is by no means a given defies certain contemporary documentary conventions by offering no solutions. It neither tells the viewer what to think nor what to do or how to act. There is no tangible enemy to fight. The concerns it addresses—poverty, addiction, homelessness, criminal justice—are often linked, and are endemic to our times. By encouraging the viewer to be introspective and, without judging, to consider the implications of Tiny's choices, the film gives us no choice but to think outside the box.

The fragility of life, of friendships and family ties, of a home, of health, of food on the table is profoundly conveyed in TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell. It is now up to us to respond innovatively, and with action, to ensure that our children have the opportunities they need, that they are owed, to flourish.