What’s the movie about?
The Advocates follows 3 individuals and organizations whose mission is to help find solutions to the homelessness crisis that LA is facing. While it certainly shows people who are experiencing homelessness, it’s more about the people who are trying to help them and change the situation -- our Advocates, who we follow as they try to affect long lasting changes and real-life transformation. It’s not enough to take someone off the street. You must provide them with housing, care, and physical, emotional and mental support.
The Advocates is about this lost ideal of “care in the community”. When a community comes together to care, lasting change can happen.
What motivated you to make this movie?
I was having a coffee with a friend in Silver Lake and a homeless person came up and asked us for money. I told him to go away but my friend took out his wallet, peeled off a $1 bill and on the bill was a hand-written note in black marker: “Feed the homeless. Love them”. And he had a stack of those singles in his wallet. That was kind of a turning point for me because it woke me up from my bias. I started looking at people in the eye when they’d ask me for money. I started going downtown to skid row and I met Mel and the volunteers at Monday Night Mission. I started seeing each of these people as individuals, with stories, not just people I should try to avoid. And I thought, I want to make a movie about this. I want other people to start looking them in the eye.
What did you learn / how did making the movie change you?
As I mentioned before, I’m like most people. You see someone who’s homeless on the street and you want to walk away, you want to turn away. There’s something horrible and embarrassing and invasive. But then, going to skid row, meeting all these volunteers, all these people who are truly trying to make some lasting change to the situation, it made me start seeing things and people differently. I started to realize that just talking to them or saying hello could make that person’s entire day because these people can go through an entire day without speaking to someone, without feeling human. They are human. They have feelings. Everyone needs to be treated with dignity.
Why should people see the movie? What do you hope to achieve through the movie?
Many, many Angelenos are upset with the homeless situation in LA. It’s not just on Skid Row, it’s everywhere, in every community and neighborhood. I’m hoping this film will give people a slightly new perspective since it follows the Advocates, the people trying to make a change and help relieve the problem, rather than the people experiencing homelessness. If someone leaves the movie and smiles at a homeless person on the street, then I will think it’s a success.
Do you think people outside of LA will be interested in seeing the film? Why?
This film is entirely shot in LA and tells the LA story, but this homeless epidemic is unfortunately going on throughout the US. There are over half a million people experiencing homelessness in the US right now and 25% of them are in California. But unfortunately, all big cities are affected in a huge way and I think they’ll be interested in seeing the film either as a mirror image of their city or as a cautionary tale.
I think people outside of the US will be interested because it’s very difficult for many people outside the US to realize that so many people don’t have the necessities of life in one of the richest countries in the world.