The film "Skid Row" is an unbelievable look at America’s homelessness crisis on constant display in Los Angeles’ 5-block radius dubbed “Skid Row.” International music sensation Pras Michel (1/3 of the Grammy Award winning hip hop group The Fugees) chose to explore this topic as few would do – he lived on the streets of Skid Row for nine days as a homeless person. His journey to understand the plight of the faceless, nameless street nomads saw him stripped of his Hollywood celebrity persona to struggle for food, shelter and a harsh daily existence.
The documentary follows Pras for nine full days as he devolves into a true resident of Skid Row. Narrative tales emerge as Pras befriends several Skid Row regulars and learns of their personal stories and life struggles. Their stories are shocking and heartfelt, touching and disturbing, but many showed a willingness to open up and share their experiences. The film also interviews community members who are key in the fight to save many of the homeless and offer them a better life. Orlando Ward of the Midnight Mission, once homeless and a resident of Skid Row, is a key partner in Pras’ mission. In detailing the conditions of Skid Row, he challenged Pras to “really go there” claiming if he did so, he would “never look at these people the same way again.” Footage is interjected with strong and sobering statistics such as: In Los Angeles County, African-Americans make up 9% of the total population, and 41% of the homeless population; the crime rate on Skid Row is more than ten times that of Beverly Hills which is a mere 8 miles away; Los Angeles has the highest homeless population in the country, more than double New York.
"Living as a homeless man for 9 days on L.A.'s Skid Row changed my perspective on life forever. Until I made this film, I was not fully aware of the facelessness of the homeless. I am deeply honored to have experienced it first-hand. My goal with this film is that audiences nationwide realize that the homeless, nameless faces we pass on the street are somebody's loved ones. They deserve our attention. How we deal with this issue as a nation shows our true moral fiber as a people. They must not be ignored,” said Pras.
Filming was incredibly difficult. The shoot took numerous cameras, concealed in a van, Pras’ coat, and one in a hidden bag with a director who followed closely behind Pras. The street residents often became suspicious of the van and jeopardized filming when word got out that the cameras could be a police effort. Pras had no respite from his day and night struggle, so producers worked 12-14 hour shifts to keep cameras rolling on his every move. Home base for the project was the Midnight Mission, in the underground parking garage, where logistics for the tricky shoot were managed.
All this year, we're going to have screenings all over the country. This website will help us figure out where to have the screenings. If you tell people in your community to demand a screening, we'll be able to bring this film to every school, church and community center, as well as theaters, so that people can discuss the issues and work together to bring about change.
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