FORT SMITH -- Sacramento, Calif.-based film crew Robert Craig Films visited Hope Campus last week to document how the homeless service is aiding the River Valley.
Hope Campus, along with several other homeless shelters and encampments, will be included in the documentary "Americans with No Address," which is slated to be released next fall.
Robert Craig Films also has created movies such as "The Lost Girls," which chronicled the story of a 16-year-old girl's involvement in sex trafficking and was streamed on the Lifetime channel. The company is also working on a movie called "No Address," which will be a fictional look at homelessness that will be released after the documentary.
A news release for the film "Americans with No Address" states it will follow a group of homeless people "as they bond while struggling to survive the streets, fending off a harassing gang, an unforgiving community and the local authorities in hopes of finding their humanity again."
Robert Marbut of San Antonio, Texas, an American homelessness consultant, said he initially got involved because he was asked to read and authenticate the movie script and later decided to be the executive producer. He said he was previously aware of the homelessness issue in Fort Smith and wanted to include Hope Campus in the documentary to highlight what it has been able to accomplish.
"You all have very successfully reduced it. It's not zero, but it's way less than it used to be, and so that's why we're here today," Marbut said.
Chris Joannides, the executive director of Hope Campus, said the film crew interviewed him, a recent graduate from the Hope Campus program and a member of the Harbor House addiction treatment facility. Joannides said he hopes the documentary helps the public better understand the issue of homelessness and also spreads awareness about available homeless services so they can work together.
"If you're not around this population, there's a lot of misnomers, a lot of myths, and once you kind of start hearing their stories, they're still people," he said. "I think sometimes just as humans, we get caught up in our day to day, and we just kind of forget about life and those that struggle and have mental disorders or addiction issues or no family and no safety nets."
Marbut agreed the goal is to get awareness and understanding of what the real problems are.
"This is becoming a very polarizing issue, and one side sort of says 'people choose to be homeless, so therefore just let them choose.' Then the other side is 'you're a victim, so you should get everything given you.' So we're trying to hit the middle," Marbut said.
Marbut said the documentary will ultimately cover what homelessness is currently like in Sacramento, Calif., San Francisco and Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; Phoenix; Washington; Baltimore; Chicago; New York; Nashville, Tenn.; Fort Smith and Winchester, Va. He said a common theme they've seen already is a majority of homeless people have some sort of untreated mental illness and substance abuse.
"And most people taking substances, it's not recreational, it's self medicating," Marbut said. "You're living on the street, it's hard to go to sleep and then you start taking something. Then you get addicted to that, sadly."
Kenneth Cook sits in the lobby, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at Hope Campus in Fort Smith. A documentary film crew captured footage this past Monday at the facility as part of a nationwide look at homelessness set to be released sometime next year. Visit nwaonline.com/221113Daily/ for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
Danny Prince rests on one of several available beds, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at Hope Campus in Fort Smith. A documentary film crew captured footage this past Monday at the facility as part of a nationwide look at homelessness set to be released sometime next year. Visit nwaonline.com/221113Daily/ for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)