By Doug Gritzmacher
Creative Director, Z-Channel Films, Denver, Colorado Google+
Last week Steve and I left Denver and were in Los Angeles doing production for a feature documentary film we are producing and directing for DirecTV, which will air the film on their Audience Network later this year. The film is about the challenges veterans face when attempting to enter the civilian workforce. We chose to base the film in LA because the city has the largest number of veterans in the nation. LA also hosts the largest number of homeless veterans in the country. Which is where the folks in the above picture come in.
Each week, this group, called “Vet Hunters”, sets out around various locations in Los Angeles in search of homeless veterans. All of them are veterans themselves, many once homeless, too. So they know all too well how veterans can end up on the streets.
We contacted them because we wanted to include them in our film. They’ve had many a reality show video producer contact them about doing a series and they refused every time. But after we explained are motives and goals for the film they were more than happy to work with us.
One area where they often “hunt” is Skid Row, which contains the largest population of homeless people in the country. As you might imagine it is not the safest area, especially at night, which is precisely when we wanted to shoot them work (we used a night vision scope for the shoot). During that evening we captured with our cameras the varied forms of assistance they offer a veteran on the streets — from bandaging a foot to connecting a homeless vet living in his car with services that will help him get out of debt. And they don’t stop at vets — half way through the night they came upon a young woman and her child, recently homeless. They gave them food and their phone numbers. “Call us tomorrow. We’ll help you get off the street.”
Saints to be sure.