TWENTYNINE PALMS — A free screening of “The Invisible Class” will begin at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at Smith’s Ranch Drive In, 4584 Adobe Road.
Filmmaker Josh Hayes asks that people bring donations of food or money for the 29 Palms Community Food Pantry.
Non-perishable food including peanut butter and canned meat are welcome.
29 Palms boy grows up to make a film about America’s homeless
TWENTYNINE PALMS — When filmmaker Josh Hayes was growing up in Twentynine Palms, he spent a lot of time getting into trouble.
Today he’s back in Twentynine Palms trying to help solve big problems — homelessness and hunger.
Born and raised in Twentynine Palms, Hayes left in 2005 at age 20, when he moved to San Francisco to get a degree in cinema production.
“It made me want to see more of the world because I didn’t think there was much to do there,” he said of his childhood home. “I never take for granted all the extra things. There’s just an amazing amount of variety. We had sports and we had the drive-in, sports, the drive-in and getting into trouble. I spent the majority of my youth getting into trouble. It gives you thick skin.”
Hayes is the filmmaker behind “The Invisible Class,” a feature-length documentary about homelessness.
His movie examines the many causes of homelessness, showing the lives children without parents, veterans suffering from PTSD, elderly people without health insurance and women fleeing abusive relationships.
Hayes, who works as a camera operator and runs a nonprofit organization helping other nonprofits with video productions, spent about 11 years making “The Invisible Class.”
“We had to learn how to do everything,” he said. “The whole entire first year was just research.”
The idea for the film grew out of a photography assignment where Hayes took photos of homeless people. He ended up having an hours-long conversation with one homeless man.
“That started the idea,” he said.
Before he could start making the movie, he believed he had to learn about homelessness from every angle, so he spent a year talking to homeless families and caseworkers working on the streets and in shelters.
“Every angle you can look at — causes, solutions — learn as much as you can,” he said.
After that, he and his crew traveled the country making a film not just about homelessness but the causes behind it.
“Mass homelessness did not exist before the 1980s,” he said, blaming massive cuts to affordable housing programs made during the Reagan administration and never reversed.
“You get this attack on affordable housing and it never comes back,” he said.
As a camera operator, Hayes has filmed everything under the sun, from a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie to sports for Turner Sports.
These days most of his work is Silicon Valley corporate content, so he started his own nonprofit, Visual Anarchy, which shoots free videos for other organizations while also teaching them how to make their own videos.