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Local filmmaker focuses on homelessness in Abbotsford

A new documentary featuring Jesse Wegenast and Ward Draper of the 5 and 2 Ministries is part of a fundraising campaign in Abbotsford.  - File photo
A new documentary featuring Jesse Wegenast and Ward Draper of the 5 and 2 Ministries is part of a fundraising campaign in Abbotsford.
— image credit: File photo

An Abbotsford filmmaker is hoping to use crowd-funding to release a documentary on recent events involving homeless residents in Abbotsford – and raise money for street-involved members of the community.

Kevin Miller – the filmmaker behind the documentary Hellbound? – has launched a crowd-funding campaign through IndieGoGo to finance post-production on a new film called The 5&2.

The film takes its name from the 5 and 2 Ministries, which assists the homeless and other marginalized people in Abbotsford. Miller shot the film last summer amidst the City of Abbotsford’s attempt to disperse a homeless camp by dumping chicken manure on the site.

Miller calls the film an “accidental documentary,” and said that he just happened to be filming a profile of 5 and 2 founder Ward Draper when news of the chicken manure situation broke.

Miller followed the story as a one-man crew as it developed over the next several weeks, which included a class action lawsuit against the city, an internal investigation into police actions against homeless property and a heated battle between the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association and Abbotsford Community Services, which is seeking to build a low-barrier, transitional housing facility for men who struggle with addiction.

Two of the leading spokespeople advocating on behalf of the homeless during this time were the people Miller set out to profile – Draper and Jesse Wegenast of the 5 and 2.

The production of the film is complete, and Miller has chosen to use the website IndieGoGo to raise $50,000 to finance post-production.

But Miller has added a twist to his campaign. Typically, contributors to IndieGoGo campaigns receive a “perk” in return for their contribution. With this campaign, however, Miller is encouraging contributors to give a perk instead by matching their contribution with a donation to the 5 and 2, the Warm Zone and other groups that provide services to street-involved members of the Abbotsford community.

“I’m really hoping this film can generate not only financial capital for these organizations but social capital as well,” said Miller.

As part of his campaign, Miller has released a teaser trailer (https://vimeo.com/74213568) as well as a fundraising video that explains how the film came about and what he hopes it will achieve (https://vimeo.com/74456165). The teaser trailer features the song “Where Are My Soldiers At?” by local band YUCA.

“After spending the last several years traveling across North America and around the world, it’s refreshing to film something right in my own back yard,” said Miller, who even converted his garage into a makeshift interview studio.

“While this is an intensely local story, I think it has ramifications far beyond Abbotsford.”

He notes that two other Lower Mainland communities—Surrey and Port Coquitlam—have used similar tactics to deal with their homeless populations.

“Clearly, there’s a level of frustration, a lack of creativity when it comes to dealing with the issue of homelessness,” said Miller. “I’m hoping this film will spur some healthy discussion and creative problem-solving.”

Miller plans to complete the film this fall and then release it through a series of local screenings, on television, DVD and digitally in the first half of 2014.

Miller previous film, Hellbound?, played in dozens of theatres across North America last year and was recently released on Netflix. His previous credits include the feature-length documentaries Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed; Sex+Money, spOILed and With God On Our Side.

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