How much do panhandlers really make? Can you possibly make a living at this? How much of a difference does a funny sign make? Will people give to a guy in a banana suit? Does every sign have to say "God Bless?" Important questions. I aim to find the answers. Give me a dollar. God Bless.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hate Mail

It seems a-lot of people just can't grasp that this is NOT a documentary about the homeless or a joke on the homeless. It is a documentary about the NON-homeless, NON-panhandling people who believe and perpetuate the idea that a great number of panhandlers are faking it, and in the end, if there is a joke here, it is these people who are the butt of it.

Not that I mind. I love hate mail. You might remember the blogger who wrote:

"I’ve stumbled upon a blog from some hip indie kid who thought it would be funny to do a social experiment where he panhandles for a living. You can tell this kid is actually rich and that this is a social experiment because he posts on his laptop like crazy and often dresses in outrageous get ups to try and make more money."

I wrote a polite letter explaining that I was far from rich. I have a lap top because I don't have house payment or car payments weighing me down. I have costumes because I have a good friend who owns a costume shop. I'm not hip, well, because I try to be and I fail miserably and nobody likes me. Indie is the one correct part I guess. This is a VERY independent film, so I think I'll accept that label. He wrote me back a nice letter and he seems to be a pretty nice guy.

Then we had our rough cut screening here in Sacramento, and I got delightful comments like these:

I have panhandled for years and am homeful (instead of homeless) for the first time in 20 years. While your film is amusing - it does nothing to represent the average homeless person. You made it comical & approachable but in no way real... My girlfriend has been homeless and agrees with me. You made a movie for Yuppies who will never understand- but you look pretty yuppie yourself so that's probably what you want. Sugar coat the truth... It's more offensive than Real. I'm funny too, this isn't funny - it's a stupid ignorant view of a Real issue.

I'm not sure what movie he watched. One about homelessness I guess. Oh well. Here's another:

Why did you make a mockery out of something that needs serious insight?
You stopped interviewing people and served yourself with you jokes and propaganda. [
The central message was] Let's make a joke out of the issue.
I think you could be a great filmmaker but let's not forget what message you want to portray. What was your point?

My point in the making the film was to make a mocker of something that needs serious insight. It sounds like I succeeded brilliantly. Thanks.

Every other survey came back positive. But as always it's the negative ones that grab attention. I think I can expect to hear a-lot more of this kind of crap. The first guy especially makes me sad. He will complain that people don't do a film that is sympathetic to the homeless but no treatment of the subject will please him. I mean, I couldn't have been more sympathetic. I interview homeless people, I capture the daily misery they deal with in their own words and I do my best to dispel the ridiculous idea that they're out there faking it to get our hard earned dollars. But I dare to have a sense of humor. I guess comedy should never touch on serious subjects and serious films should not have any humor. I'll keep this in mind.


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