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Without a Home

Due in part to the poor state of the economy, the number of homeless has been on the rise. This is part of the story of just a few of those in Central Square, Cambridge.

Comments (9)

I really loved this piece. It resonated with me on a deep emotional level. I felt the pain, the cold winds, the hopelessness these homeless men felt and described. The opening interview really engaged me. It felt like a slap across the face that sent me back into the harsh reality of the world. Entering Central Square from the escalator was GREAT way to start off the piece. It was a symbol that said open up your eyes and welcome to the real world, the world of Central Square. The music was awesome in setting a depressing and lonely mood that resonated with the homeless people’s messages throughout the rest of the piece. The narrative structure, on a high level, worked well. You introduced the problem of homelessness, quote public stats, talk about what live is life and try to hint at the economy/lack of public aid as causes that perpetuate the issue. After watching the clip again on high volume, I finally got the last line – “It’s happening in every city”. Your take away message is pretty depressing and you try to cut down on the finger-pointing as to what the cause is at the end by reminding us that other city than Cambridge also suffer from the same epidemic. I liked the use of the statistics screen. It gave me a break to take in all that emotional energy and helped grounded the feeling to hard facts about homelessness in Cambridge. Very well placed!

The switchin in music mood was alarming at the end. I was trying to stay sad and the messages from the homeless men were sad but for some reason the music lightened up. This took away from the emotional impact of you video. If anything, I’d probably prefered if you made the music even more sad. You profile of Central Square was confusing to me because I thought all the shots of the murals symbolized something deeper but I couldn’t connect it back to the video’s main message. I was having a hard time hearing what the homeless people said so maybe you could’ve tried to filter out some (not all) of the noise and kicked up the volume? The ending didn’t have the emotional punch I was expecting to match your beginning. I kind of wanted to have the first homeless man come back to give us a concluding word on what it’s like to live with out a home. I also wished you had done more of a visual sketch of what it’s like to live/feel like a bum. Maybe shots of cold Cambridge at night or more profile of the harshness of the environment?

Really good job! This was a piece I really wanted someone to do. You really stuck your neck out there and engaged with your subjects in a deep and emotion conversation.

Posted over 2 years by ray_li@mit.edu

I was very touched by this piece. I had the urge to applause at the end. I believe that you did these people so much justice, and gave so much of a voice. This definitely be your final piece, as there was so much to said for these people’s struggles of being in “the asylum, the jailhouse, in Middle East’s kitchen dishwashing” etc. It shows that Americans just aren’t giving the homeless a chance when they proved to me in less than four minutes that they have more heart than more people I know.

1) The piece had a lot of strong points. The narrative came come together strongly. The interviews each were distinct and impressionable. You were concise with your message. You showed backdrops of businesses closing down to have the visual agree with the audio. Great job.

2) My biggest problem was one you couldn’t really manipulate – the semantic sounds. For me, the piece was for once the undivided attention giving to the homeless, our going outside our comfort zone when talking to these people, but the sounds took us away from that (street sign chirping), as its constantly reminding and distracting us from what they have to say. But something you can change is the music. I agree with Ray; the music got cheerful in the end, when it shouldn’t. I learned from my piece that ending on a sad end, when appropriate, is very strong. (It’s not always necessary to end with a happy note.)

Posted over 2 years by andyj@mit.edu

This video was very powerful, and was absolutely unique within the videos we have seen in that there was not a single moment that I felt disengaged. It’s very obvious that you thought out your visuals ahead of time, and the extreme close ups of your subjects work so well. I’m sure you had to do a lot of editing to get the best parts of each interview, but be assured that it was totally worth it, this piece is incredible.

I have almost no criticisms, and the ones I do have are pretty picky. First off, I think either a little more or a little less about the actual space of Central square, because as it was I just got glimpses of it but wouldn’t have recognized it as a single space if I didn’t already know. And the only other thing is the uplift in the music at the end, it was a little inappropriate with what was actually happening at the end of the video. Maybe ending with a more hopeful quote would have fixed this.

Overall, great job!

Posted over 2 years by zacht

The thing that really stood out with this video was the fact that I felt close to the interviewees in both a distance-sense and an emotional sense. Your subjects really shined, and the content was powerful. I had no problem empathising with them. You complimented the interviews well with a set of good clean facts, and little details, like having the quotes cascade downward, were well-played. The effortless pacing, the slowness, was suitable for this sort of film. I also felt engaged because of the combination of music and the background sound; it gave a sense of emptiness and a feeling of being alone. But again to your interviewees: they were so honest…great subject matter!
Aside from that, I’d probably incorporate more non-interview footage combined with interview audio. I thought the video was lacking in visual images towards the beginning…you definitely had these in the middle and end showing off the irony of Cambridge. And that’s another thing I wanted to touch on. I would have liked to have seen you explore the place more rather than just the homeless people. I find the stark contrast between Central Cambridge and the riverside to be astounding, so why not delve into that? Next time, try adding more variety of shots, and then you’ll really have a film that everyone can empathise with! Great job!

Posted over 2 years by sguitron@mit.edu

I thought this piece was very well done. The topic was really interesting, and I liked how you tackled something so difficult and disconnected from MIT. There was not a moment I felt disengaged from the piece. You chose a topic that really stood well alone- without a lot of fancy editing or effects. I thought you worked in the facts together, and I was never jarred by anything in the piece.

I liked your variety of shots, but I did get the feel that you did more than just profile the issue. I felt the location a little stronger than would have been best in this piece. Maybe just a little more focus on the individuals. That being said, it’s one of the things you will want to do in your final video, so I feel like this isn’t really a criticism. Maybe just make especially sure that your shots focus on the bigger picture and not just details on the whole.

Posted over 2 years by jhaskins@mit.edu

I really enjoyed this video. You did such a nice job getting interview footage that was so real and human and gripping to the viewer. I think your editing and music choices enhanced everything this video was getting across. You did a great job as the interviewer with getting the best out of your subjects. They were engaging and emotional in a way that is so hard to create. I liked your closing and the way you were able to kind of wrap it up in such a short amount of time which I think is one of the most difficult parts in making these short videos.
My only complaint is that I wanted to keep watching. I think this would be a great piece to continue and get deeper into the issue. If you are able to continue with the success you’ve already had with this piece, then it would make for a great longer video.

Posted over 2 years by austing@mit.edu

One thing I really enjoyed about this film was the construction of the shots — we were close up and next to them, as if we were sitting next to each homeless person. This really gives a different perspective than from what most people are used to seeing homeless people — from a perspective of higher than, above, and rushing by. Instead, we were close up, we saw their reactions and emotions clearly, and it really brought out the strong emotional nature of the piece. I found that the choice of the shot was also incredibly respectful to each interview subject, and thoroughly appreciated that.

The part where I found myself a little bit lost was when you showed the murals. I kind of thought it as a symbol of urban decay and deterioration, like your piece was trying to make a statement about how we now call such decay artwork. However, I don’t think that’s what you meant to say, and I found it a bit confusing. I think you could have easily included more shots or statistics of homeless people and it would not have dragged in any way.

Posted over 2 years by vsun@mit.edu

Your choice for the introduction was spectacular. This guy was mentioning that he is an ex-convict and has been in and out of jail all his life. A contradiction is created right away, since the image of an ex-convict does not match the vulnerability of the guy, his sensitivity, and the colorful flowers on his hat. Right away, the main theme of “trying to survive” is introduced as well. Not only is the guy engaging, but the contradiction he displays creates a conflict in the mind and curiosity to watch the rest of the film.
I liked how you drew the audience from one homeless individual to another. For example, you showed one of the guys with a cup reaching out for money, which showed his daily life. After painting a picture of what his life is like, you went on to talk with him.
Key points made about the downfall of economy and its effects were both captured in words and in your shots. I particularly loved the personal shot captured of one of the homeless individuals writing “out of business” on paper. You also had shots of the public store closing down.
What each of the homeless individuals said was very descriptive and clearly explained the various reasons that caused them to be at the state they were at. This reflects your talent in interviewing individuals, because I think it is not easy to talk with homeless people as they are generally not fond of talking about their problems with others.
Despite the fact that I thought you tackled most key issues about why these individuals were homeless and how their life was like, I think that you could have included more content on what they thought about how they were treated by people around them and how they thought their problem could be solved.
Regarding the background music, I liked the low-energy music at the beginning, but did not think the upbeat music that ended the piece matched, because at the end nothing regarding the homeless problem had changed. There was no solution or positive future to look into that would match the positive-energy music. Also, I thought the background music in general was too loud and drew away from the emphasis on the individuals talking.

Posted over 2 years by sahar_h@mit.edu

I loved the introduction of this piece. The guy gave a very emotionally powerful and yet concise introduction of himself, and the broader problem of homelessness. In fact, all of the interview footage was very effective and intimate. I loved your B-roll shots, particularly when you cut between shots of the interviewee speaking to an image of the same person not speaking while the audio still continued. You also captured the environment of Central Square very well, with various images of stores going out of business, and the general commotion of people walking by. Even the way you presented supporting text was extremely effective visually.

I have very few suggestions for improvement besides the last portion of your video in which you try to present the ongoing efforts to improve the situation. Maybe a more appropriate image to use for that part of the film is Cambridge City Hall, which is just a few blocks down from the T-stop.

Posted over 2 years by ndou@mit.edu

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Michael Desanker

Michael Desanker

Updated 2 years ago

Created
April 09, 2012 21:07
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