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My Big Fat Homeless Berkeley Movie

May 18 2009
A homeless filmmaker slept in a carport while preparing his documentary on street life For long time, homeless filmmaker Johnny Shaw slept in a carport and ate from the dustbin while preparing his powerful feature-length documentary on street life in Berkeley, USA. Mr Shaw has been homeless since he was 15, and said he has no intention of ever being otherwise - he likes the underground life. He now dreams of participating in American film festivals such as Southern California Film Festival, Rainier and Dokufest. He can imagine winning them and becoming known. Even then, however, he says he would continue to live among the indigent. Some might say that Mr Shaw's chosen lifestyle conflicts with his ambitions; however, the director disagrees. It is true that he now needs a bank account (which requires an address) in order to buy a new camera and a more powerful laptop for future films, plus cash to cover film festival fees and production expenses. But he says he would be unable to live indoors after the truths the streets have taught him. The author has distributed 200 DVDs of the 52-minute video. He sold about three-quarters on the street and recently through IndieFlix.com, which sells his movie for £5 to anyone in the world. The money he makes is expected to allow Mr Shaw to get to a film festival. The film is populated by interesting and unique characters. Mitch Mitchner is a 70-year-old rough sleeper who paid for the Sony camera Shaw needed to film his documentary. Shaw's other major sponsor appears at the end of the movie. He is an older gentleman called Julian Walker, who sits down at a piano and sings a ragtime tune. Walker was lucky enough to receive an inheritance and - since he believed in the project - donated £600 for Mr Shaw to buy a laptop. The 35-year-old author does not appear in the film, preferring instead to move anonymously through almost 20 sketches depicting individual lives on the street. Although its success has been admittedly limited, My Big Fat Homeless Berkeley Movie has the potential to be considered a "street triumph". Some critics said it was funny, others found it sad, but all agreed that the movie, which lacks a plot, never lectures or preaches to people.
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