Hollywood is a world of fantasy, where dreams of stardom and riches can come true for those with lots of ambition and a bit of luck. Underneath the glitter, however, is a reality which isn’t quite so bright: the problem of homelessness, one which is prevalent in Southern California despite the enormous riches and opportunity which can be found here.
Two teen Hollywood actors have decided to do something about this by increasing awareness through a new documentary called “Hope for Our Own: An L.A. Story.” The film, which is being shot and produced by actor Jimmy Deshler, best known as “Rafe” on the extremely popular and long-lived soap opera General Hospital, and Riley Beres, best known for her role on “Matumbo Goldberg,” will bring viewers a first-hand view of the many faces of homelessness and also illuminate some “shocking facts,” according to the filmmakers.
We got the chance to ask these two positive teen role models a few questions about their project:
TWK: With so many causes out there why did you choose to advocate for the homeless?Any personal reasons?
Jimmy: I see how big of an issue it is, and feel like there isn’t enough people advocating help for the homeless. There are so many different shelters that specialize in certain types of homelessness, and I feel like if more people knew about them, more people would be helped. Obviously our goal isn’t to end homelessness, we simply want to inspire change and create hope
Riley: For me, I met a guy at the end of our visit to Hope of The Valley’s breakfast held at St. David’s Church. He came up to us and asked us to film him. His words and his presence just sort of spoke to me. It made me think of how many homeless people are around our city and how we don’t always look at homelessness with the full picture. It make me think about how I feel when I see homelessness and it made me ask, “if I don’t really see homelessness outside of what I see on the streets, how do others see homelessness? And, how do we change that?” I mean people volunteer at animal shelters, hospitals, for admirable causes such as cancer or diabetes, but we aren’t really talking about volunteering and changing our outlook on homelessness. Homelessness is a loss of resource in our community and it affects our economy. I feel that the majority of people, I myself can be put it in that category, don’t really see homelessness outside of people who are chronically homeless; and I think there is a fear there that needs to be addressed so more people will come forward and help out. There is a stigma attached to it, based on what is easily seen but there is so much more to it than that and we all need a little education on it. I just don’t think people are talking about it enough and we need to start a conversation in order to initiate change. Personally, there has been a member or two in my extended family that have experienced homelessness, that had feeling of no way out and they rebounded. I feel, that it can and does happen. We as a public need to understand that.
Riley: Both Jimmy and I will be running the camera at different times. We will be alternating on asking interview questions and filming the interview itself. Both of us will be putting our input on any B-Roll that is included in the film. Basically, we are both an eye to the Director of Photography, as we compliment each other very well in our differences.
Jimmy: We will both be doing some filming and directing. We plan to take this on as a team, and work together to accomplish our goal
TWK: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about homelessness?
Jimmy: I believe the biggest misconception about homelessness is “Oh, they’re homeless, they must be addicted to drugs or alcohol.”
Riley: In reality, homelessness could happen to absolutely anyone at anytime.
TWK: What is the biggest challenge to getting your film done?
Riley: This is really a two-fold answer in that we have two hurdles. The first is raising the money for filming permit. The second, is getting people to come forward with their stories of homelessness, since it is such a private struggle and people are afraid of being labeled.
Jimmy: The actual filming process is the least of our worries. We are more focused on raising funds for editing as well as promoting our film.
TWK: What are your plans once the film is done?
Jimmy: We plan to enter the film into some festivals and hopefully get good feedback and continue entering larger festivals. We also hope to use the film as an educational piece in schools and organizations. I plan to take what I learn during this process and volunteer my help to the different shelters in my area. I also plan on encouraging younger people to get involved with volunteering.
Riley: Of course, we would like to submit it to film festivals to get the word out there and start making our LA community thinking about homelessness in a new way.
It is inspiring to see these two teens in action to raise awareness for such a great cause! For more information, or to support these two filmmakers in their efforts, check out the links below.