Steven Cantor, director of the new documentary, Tent City, USA premiering on OWN Thursday night, April 5, gave us the inside track into the making of his latest masterpiece.
Still Here: Occupy Wall Street Celebrates 6-Month Anniversary! (PHOTOS)The doc, which goes inside the community knows as Tent City in Nashville, TN gives viewers a look inside a society unbeknownst to most.
Check out our exclusive with Steven below!
When Gabriel Byrne and Leora Rosenberg approached me about doing a film that attempted to put a human face on the homeless problem, my producer and I began a research process that eventually led us to Tent City
Can you walk us through a day in the life of these people you filmed?
They are all different and at different stages of life and different stages of homelessness, so it's impossible to generalize. As you might expect, their lives are very much about day-to-day survival.
They do what they can to make a buck, often selling newspapers on street corners or taking odd jobs wherever they can get them. They collect wood for fires to stay warm in winter. They worry about water and where their next meal will come from.
What is being done to help them?
There are various outreach efforts, some of which are featured in the film, but for the most part - and this is not unique to Nashville, but throughout the country - the homeless are not a powerful constituency, so they are basically just ignored as long as they do not disturb the public peace or become too visible so as to become a blight on a city's image.
Why did this problem in particular inspire you to create a film?
I am always interested by people within situations. Most of the time, this has meant my focusing on highly talented and passionate and successful individuals - Sally Mann, Nicholas Kristof, WIllie Nelson, Ingrid Newkirk - to name a few. But this other end of the spectrum - Americans struggling just to find the basics for daily survival seemed to be worth a closer look.
Aside from this issue, what other problems in this country pull at your heart strings that you might think of making a doc about?
I think our education system is in a bad place and is a big reason why the US is losing its foothold in the world, and why Americans are losing out on economic opportunity. I'm not sure how I would go about that film, but the subject is on my radar.
And I am an advocate for alternative medicine and there are some things about the pharmaceutical industry that make me crazy. In particular, I find it appalling that some states require children with cancer to undergo chemotherapy and radiation, even if their parents have other beliefs.
When I first started dating the woman I later married, she was diagnosed with severe cancer, but treated herself naturally under the guidance of an expert in LA, and three months later she received a clean bill of health and has remained cancer free for 15 years now.
Anyway, some day I will make a pharmaceutical industry film. Do you know that they just had to pass a law requiring doctors to disclose on a public website if they receive kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for prescribing their medications? That problem is really widespread and is such a conflict of interest.