written by Angela Tucker

As someone born and raised in New York, I have come in contact with homeless men and women my entire life. My childhood friend, Kim Gittens has worked at various homeless organizations throughout the city. Through her stories, she has revealed to me a clear and real face to an invisible population in this city, the homeless.

When I received The National Black Programming Consortium’s (NBPC) call for projects for The Masculinity Project, I immediately began to think about what it means to be a man, a black man, when you are part of this population.

Kim works for Street to Home, a program that is part of a larger organization called Common Ground, which places homeless men and women in housing and works to keep them there. I partnered with this organization and together we identified Gregory and Andrew as good men to interview.

The creation of these pieces was a truly organic process, the pieces being formulated by the ideas they brought up. I was most interested in having Andrew and Gregory speak about their lives in their own words. We conducted audio interviews first and, after transcribing them, chose the most evocative moments. On Super 8mm, we filmed objects, moments, anything that corresponded to the stories they told. For music, I was looking for atmospheric music that had a jazz feel to it. Creative Commons has an incredible music site and I was fortunate to find some great (and free) music by up and coming musicians.

I hope these shorts get people to look at the homeless in a different way and, more importantly, to dispel stereotypes. The reasons why or how someone became homeless are complicated. This was the biggest thing I learned from both Gregory and Andrew. It is a chain of difficult situations and it is a more difficult life than I imagined. Simply being more compassionate is a good first step for most people. Some concrete actions you can take are to volunteer at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Overall, homelessness is not an issue covered sufficiently in the media. For me, the act of making these pieces helped me see this issue in a whole new light.

Created as part of NBPC and ITVS‘ Masculinity Project, supported by the Ford Foundation, INVISIBLE MEN is a series of two shorts created by independent filmmaker Angela Tucker. They are available as part of the Masculinity Project. Angela Tucker shares some of her thoughts on homelessness, black masculinity, and the inspiration behind the films.