Have you ever had to question whether you’d have enough food to eat in a day? Or have you ever had to worry about where you’d sleep at night? Based on federal government estimates, around 150,000 homeless people in Canada face these questions every single day.
Laurier Brantford Journalism student Dan Losier became especially interested in this social issue, and decided to get involved in a unique way.
“I’m a journalist and I’ve always wanted to make a documentary, so I came up with this idea when I was in Ottawa,” says Losier. “When I moved back to Brantford, I started taking the social documentary class with Ian MacRae… I pitched the idea to Ian and he basically wished me luck and said ‘you’ve got a month to produce this.’”
The film’s premise is simple: “[it’s] 72 hours of me with nothing. I went out with a jacket and my clothes.”
To produce the documentary, Losier sought out the help of friend and Brant News journalist, Tom Kennedy, to shoot the film.
“Dan was looking for someone to be there the whole time and actually shoot the experience,” explains Kennedy. “ It was a really cool way to do it because we were already friends, and I wasn’t just an outsider looking in.”
The friendship both men speak of with sincerity became of primary importance to the filming succeeding.
“Being his friend made it a lot easier to essentially be mean to him because I was comfortable doing that,” says Kennedy. “It was easier to avoid wanting to help him out because I knew what he was trying to do and I wanted him to achieve it.”
Although Losier’s immersion into homelessness was short-lived, the 72-hour experience profoundly impacted him. In a somber voice, he remembers the start of filming.
“You can see the first night I’m pretty scared of where I’m going to sleep. Then the next day, I’m so rattled. I’m freezing my ass off, I have to walk. I didn’t prepare for this.”
Unfortunately, preparing for homelessness is a terrifying and near-impossible prospect.
According to a 2006 survey, roughly half of all Canadians live in fear of poverty and 49 per cent of people polled believe if they miss one or two paychecks, they will be poverty stricken.
The notion that nearly half the population could find themselves in poverty a few payless weeks is not lost on Losier.
“It doesn’t matter who these people are and what they’ve done in their past—they’re people. When I went to [the soup kitchen, I saw that] they were just normal people who were down on their luck.”
Once filming and editing ended, Losier brought his film back to MacRae’s class for a viewing in front of students, professors and a representative of the Brantford Film Festival (BFF). Losier submitted the film and was selected for the Brantford Showcase which will feature three films that tell stories of Brantford.
When asked what he wants people to take away from the film, Losier speaks with certainty.
“The main message I want to put through my work is community and getting together. I really truly believe that’s how the world can change. There’s a lot of social change that needs to happen and we’ve put that in other people’s hands and it’s clearly not working. We need to put it back in our own hands, get together and do it ourselves.
The BFF runs from October 15 to 16. Tickets can be purchased at the Brantford Arts Block at 80 Dalhousie Street. Tickets to the Brantford Showcase are $5 and include viewings of all three films.
For more information on the BFF and Losier and Kennedy’s film, “In Their Shoes: The Experience” visit the festival’s website: http://www.brantfordfilmfestival.ca/.