SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento’s growing homelessness crisis will move further into a wider spotlight later this year, with the release of a movie filmed in the region that delves into the struggles of unhoused populations.
“No Address,” set for release this winter, follows a group of five people experiencing homelessness who form a “street family” within a large encampment, according to its official synopsis. Conflict deepens when a businessman seeks to buy the encampment property for a land development project.
Filming on “No Address” wrapped up last month, after taking place in multiple locations across the greater Sacramento area, including the Land Park and Woodlake neighborhoods.
On the final day of principal photography, cast members shared some of their thoughts on the film, its themes and what they hope audiences will experience and learn from it.
‘Heartbreaking’: Actors weigh in on homelessness crisis
Early in the filming process, producers took the actors down a stretch of Del Paso Boulevard in Old North Sacramento that is lined with homeless camps and tents.
“It’s staggering,” Xander Berkeley, a prolific character actor, said of the homeless situation in Sacramento. “It’s just heartbreaking. You can’t believe it, and you just keep wondering, how does this happen? Why does this happen, and how can it be helped?”
Berkeley portrays Harris, a war veteran, former drug addict and artist who serves as “protector” of the group, and who helps provide support by selling paintings he makes of its members.
The film also features actor and Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Ashanti, who plays Violet, a combat veteran who becomes homeless after developing a painkiller addiction.
“It’s a beautifully written story about people coming together, creating their own family,” Ashanti said.
The role is very different from most Ashanti has played in her career, she said, but she was drawn to the project and believes that it can help change people’s perceptions and misconceptions.
“I hope that people walk away gaining compassion, becoming less ignorant and taking the time to understand that these circumstances could happen to you, could happen to your best friend, people in your family,” she said. “It’s a global issue.”
Isabella Ferreira, whose character Lauren has been kicked out of her foster home after graduating from high school, said she wants audiences to take away the importance of communicating with those experiencing homelessness — even with a gesture as simple as a “hello.”
“I personally grew up surrounded by homelessness, in a lower-income neighborhood,” said Ferreira, who was raised in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood before moving to Los Angeles. “So when I first read the script I was really intrigued and curious, because I wanted to learn more.”
The film follows Harris, Violet, Lauren, Jimmy (Lucas Jade Zumann) and Dora (Beverly D’Angelo) as they navigate a large encampment that is ultimately targeted by an arrogant businessman, Robert (William Baldwin), who wants to buy the property but must first clear away the unhoused people who live there.
“I think there is no film like this, that there’s not yet been an attempt to capture this type of homelessness in the way that we are,” Zumann said. “Especially among such a diverse group of individuals.”
Zumann portrays Jimmy, a young man experiencing homelessness after leaving an abusive home.
‘No Address’ producers have worked with homeless populations
“No Address” is directed by Julia Verdin, who also wrote the film along with James J. Papa, and produced by Rocklin-based Robert Craig Films, which financed the project.
Craig and his family are involved in homeless ministry through Bayside Church of Granite Bay. He has said that “No Address” is not a Christian movie, but that “there are some faith-based elements in it.”
Robert Marbut Jr., founder and CEO of San Antonio-based nonprofit Haven for Hope, is an executive producer on “No Address” and also served as its research consultant.
Marbut was executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness from 2019 to 2021 following his appointment by former President Donald Trump.
A one-hour documentary companion project, “Americans with No Address,” will include interviews from the feature film’s producers, who embarked on a three-week bus tour across major cities in 13 states, interviewing nonprofit CEOs and politicians on solutions to reduce homelessness in the U.S.
The documentary is scheduled for a fall release.
‘Trying to help in any way possible’
Berkeley, who has appeared in more than 200 film and TV projects including “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “24,” said he wrote his own script in the 1980s about the homelessness crisis.
He ultimately grew too busy to pursue that script, but he said he has remained interested in the topic, doing research off-and-on for decades.
Having lived in Los Angeles for years before moving with his family to Maine, Berkeley said he remains struck by the homeless situation whenever he returns to California for work.
“I like talking to these people, and they like to be with somebody that wants to see them and wants to hear them and get their story,” he said.
Berkeley said he hopes the film inspires people to move beyond “passive empathy” into more active forms of “trying to help in any way possible.”
“I think Sacramento can take great hope in facilities that are starting to make headway,” Berkeley said, referring to local and national nonprofit organizations aimed at reducing homelessness. He mentioned the Salvation Army as one example.
Like his character, Berkeley has been a painter for decades. Robert Craig Films plans to auction off real paintings Berkeley has created of his fellow cast members, donating the proceeds to charitable causes.
Robert Craig Films has pledged 50% of the net profits from “No Address,” “Americans with No Address” and accompanying projects, plus an additional $1 million, to “nonprofits and church groups that are involved in homelessness,” according to the movie’s website.
Filming took place in Sacramento throughout most of March, which brought some unexpected challenges as powerful storms continued in the region during an exceptionally wet winter.
Heavy rain and fierce wind gusts in California this time of year caught some of the actors off guard.
Ferreira, though, said she appreciated the rough stretch of weather, which helped to keep things in perspective.
“It really did set in place the realism of it all,” she said. “I mean, this is something that people actually have to go through. They live through this.”
Source: Yahoo News
By: MICHAEL MCGOUGH | Sacramento Bee