I was asked to photograph the cover to the teen novel
‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’ by Alex Pearl to raise money for the homeless
project got me thinking about the way we perceive homelessness. The
stereotypical image of someone with a blanket wrapped around themselves while
supping soup from a mug isn’t, I believe, very helpful or insightful.
a world in which circumstances dictate the way we live, homelessness is
something that can very suddenly affect anyone from any walk of life, religion,
ethnicity and nationality. You can be living a normal life one moment and then
be the victim of a violent relationship, economic recession, illness or crime,
the next. Homelessness can and often is the result of such traumatic and
unexpected bad fortune.
more I thought about this, the more I felt it time that homeless charities
conveyed this image to the public. So in collaboration with Alex (who’s a
copywriter by trade), I set about storyboarding a commercial for Centrepoint
that would break all the conventions and stereotypes associated with
I knew a French make-up artist who was a very good friend of Sarah-Laure
Estragnat (twitter @Sarah_Laure), the talented French actress who was available
and keen to take part. She was perfect for the film because she doesn’t look
like the clichéd homeless person and she isn’t even English.
wanted the film to give us a glimpse into the distressing world of an
attractive young woman running away from some awful situation that we can only
imagine. As she runs we can hear her emotional thoughts in French. I wanted the
whole thing to have a film noir look to create even more intrigue. And I wanted
to challenge the viewer right up until the end-frame where our end line written
in English spells out succinctly what the commercial is all about.
the commercial will make people think twice before they pre-judge the next homeless
person they see on the street.