Shadowing directors of Campus MovieFest contest: Vagabond

by Hannah Beausang

Hannah Beausang, Staff Writer

A homeless man sits alone at a bus stop. In one hand, he clutches a tattered grocery bag full of plastic bottles. In the other, he holds a dying cigarette, smoked all the way down to the filter. His dirty face is adorned with a mangy beard. His clothes are grimy and his shoes are worn thin.

The man blends in with thousands of homeless people in San Diego. To passers by, he is practically invisible. He fumbles to light another cigarette and suddenly, his beard catches fire. The man laughs, putting out the small flame. He walks away from the bus stop and peels the beard off his face.

He crosses the street with a smile on his face and approaches two men holding a camera. The people sitting at the bus stop stare. Suddenly, the man is not a homeless person anymore. He has transformed into a vibrant young man.

His name is Ernesto Galvan, a student at San Diego Futures Foundation. He is working with San Diego State social work senior Jared Ocampo and political science and environmental science senior Rudy Vargas. The tree are participating in the SDSU Campus Movie Fest to create a short documentary about homelessness in San Diego called “Vagabond.”

The sun is blotted out by sporadic clouds as team uses Vargas’ Canon 60D to record footage. There is a spark of excitement in the air during the filming as the team ambitiously searches the city streets for places to shoot.

Ocampo directs Galvan to slump against a bleak concrete wall, channeling the listlessness of the drab scenery. Galvan assumes the position with an air of certainty, adapting skillfully to the role.

Galvan’s character will experience love, but will become a castaway, estranged from his former life. He is in a desperate situation that anyone could find themselves in.

This compelling story of loss will show how tangible homelessness is. As the team documents Galvan’s vagabond lifestyle, viewers can follow the decent into homelessness and see the nature of the lifestyle. Galvan’s plight will wake viewers up to the large scale problem of homelessness in the area.

“We wanted to figure out a way to shed light on the issues that we have in San Diego because that’s something that everyone relate to and something that we all have in common.”

The crew members have been friends since high school and interact with a certain degree of familiarity. They talk excitedly about the issue of homelessness and takes turns voicing their concern about the prominence of the issue and the best way to portray it in the film. The film aims to be both non-conventional and thought-provoking.

“I don’t want to end it like any other movie.” Ocampo said. “I want it to be open ended. The homelessness problem isn’t going to go away overnight.”

Before they began filming, the team talked to a woman who had been homeless for nine years. The woman was reluctant to give information, but told the men that, as a homeless person, her life is all about survival.

This conversation gave the team a clearer idea of the realities of homelessness.

“I don’t think that there is a 100 percent answer to any of the questions, but hopefully our film ignites some questions and causes people to have conversations,” Vargas said.