On the Streets

On the Streets is an observational documentary about homeless people shot over eight months. Rough sleepers, from Paul with two degrees in pure maths to Jean, Ken and Andy gradually reveal that their problem is not lack of housing. The film shows the camaraderie of the streets and the loneliness of being indoors with no support structure.

On the Streets has a cast of characters who are all homeless or vulnerably housed during the course of the film - no experts talking on their behalf. Some like Jean and Andi appear several times, others like Matthew just once. I filmed on the streets of London over eight months assuming that the weather would be a significant factor, starting in summer into the depths of a cold winter. I began thinking of homelessness as a housing issue, caused by poverty and bad luck. Like most of us who live in big cities I walked past huddled figures on doorsteps with a mixture of guilt and shame.
Making the film was a journey towards understanding that the problem is not lack of housing but the painful levels of trauma, the histories of abuse that have led to people being too damaged to lead ordinary lives. If housing is not the problem then the money poured into trying to solve the problem in that way is wasteful and stupid. Through the film we see Andi unravelling when he is stuck in a poky bedsit in the suburbs %u2013 self harming, returning to drink and doodling a tattoo on his head. We hear why Jean who was multiple raped as a child does not see home as a safe place and prefers life on the streets. And we see how children in care are left to find their own way with no inner resources and no practical help.
The voices in the film are those of homeless people talking to each other and showing me their world. There is no voice over, no captions and no attempt to tidy up the narrative. The film reveals the camaraderie as well as the despair and because it is filmed over a period shows the 'revolving door' as people get housing and then return to the streets after a few months. I hope that humanity shines through. The film does not tell you what to think but I hope it makes you think.


In production

Production team