How does a filmmaker creatively interpret the issues of homelessness by using animation? That was the task given to graduate and undergraduate students in the Advanced Media Lab at North Carolina State University. The students became involved with the Home Is Not One Story project in collaboration with the Town of Chapel Hill Public Arts Office and Hidden Voices. The project seeks to bring about public awareness to the many issues of homelessness through an accessible medium – film animation.
The series of short student films about homelessness will debut May 14 as part of the Second Friday Art Walk on the plaza in front of the Post Office on the corner of Franklin & Henderson Streets. The films will be shown at 8:30 p.m. The program will last about 30 minutes.
The films are based on taped interviews with different homeless populations conducted over the course of several months in different shelters and social service facilities throughout Orange County by Hidden Voices staff and volunteers.
Students utilized a variety of animation methods including stop-motion, hand-drawn, laser-cut, and digital/blue screen to creatively illustrate the compelling words and stories of the people affected, like Anna:
“I couldn’t work because of my back. The medical bills kept piling up and then the money ran out. I never thought a hard working girl with two college degrees would wind up in a homeless shelter, but I did.”
This and other quotations became the basis for the interpretive animations that explore medical bankruptcy, homeless veterans, transient housing, domestic violence, foster children aging out of support systems, immigrants and refugees, parental rejection of GLBTG teens, and the working homeless.
Students worked under the guidance of the College of Design’s Art + Design Associate Professor Patrick Fitzgerald, head of the Advanced Media Lab at NCSU, and Assistant Professor McArthur Freeman, to create the filmed sequences.
“I am excited about this as an art project as it helps to give visual form to an often difficult and misunderstood subject. Plus, it offered students an opportunity to tackle story-telling and communicating messages through contemporary media,” said Jeffrey York, Chapel Hill’s Public Art Administrator.
The animation project sponsored by the Chapel Hill Public Arts Office was a part of a larger project coordinated by Hidden Voices. The overall project included writings, photography, and performances created by homeless members of our communities, as well as a digital audio and print tour, exhibit and school curriculum guide for implementing a focus on homelessness.