One of Hollywood's most well-known philanthropists and activists, Susan Sarandon has supported many causes throughout her illustrious career. But it was a chance meeting with film maker Thomas Morgan that led her to really delve into one issue in particular – that of homelessness in the U.S.
Morgan himself sort of stumbled across the issue, admitting that before a few chance encounters of his own, he thought people who lived on the streets were drug addicts or alcoholics who deserved to be there. When he found out just how wrong he was, he decided to do something about it.
After hearing his daughter had four homeless kids in her Charlotte, N.C., class alone and calling the National Coalition for the Homeless to learn more, he set himself on a journey that would see him quit his job, downsize his whole life and walk in the shoes of millions of people largely ignored by society.
Susan Sarandon with Thomas Morgan and Wendel Raspberry, who is featured in Storied Streets
The idea for the film materialized during one of these chance encounters - when he met Morgan Spurlock, the man behind the Oscar-nominated documentary "Super Size Me," in Sarandon's ping pong club Spin.
"I was in NY trying to put together an investment bank deal for Malcolm Bricklin," shares Morgan, who spent most of his career in real estate development. "[Spurlock] asked if I was 'in the industry' and I said, 'No, but someone should do a film about homelessness in the United States.' And he said, 'You should!'"
It was then Spurlock introduced Morgan to Sarandon, whose business partner and boyfriend is Malcolm Bricklin's son, Jonathan. When she heard the story, her response was simply, "How do I help you?"
"And the rest is history," Morgan tells Closer. "Susan has been involved since day one and I am lucky to have her on board, otherwise it may not have grown to what it is now.”
So, after quitting his six-figure job, Morgan hired Sarandon’s son, Jack Robbins, right out of USC film school to direct the documentary. Both Sarandon and Spurlock took on the roles of executive producers.
Jose had to sleep in the bleachers at his school after coming home one day to find his mom had left
“The film has been really well received,” Morgan said of the project. “I had a friend tell me, ‘You know the one issue you’re going to have with your film…Nobody gives a shit about the homeless, so they won’t watch it.’ I said, ‘But they should.’”
Traveling from L.A. to New York — and stopping in 17 cities along the way — the father-of-four interviewed countless people on the streets – from teenagers to veterans to abused wives to workers who just don’t earn enough to pay rent – and kept hearing the same thing, "I never set out to become homeless."
"These stories are the genesis behind the documentary Storied Streets,” says Morgan. “The more people we talk to who know homelessness first hand — families, veterans, young adults—the more I realize they live lives very similar to mine and yours.”
“Storied Streets” will screen at 750 schools and universities across the country on Sunday, Nov. 16 to kick off National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week. This will be followed by a live-streamed Q&A with Susan, Thomas and a few other special guests.
Head to storiedstreets.com for more information, and to sign up your school or group. MGO - the joint venture between Technicolor and Dreamworks - will provide a free screening passcode.
Watch the film’s trailer below:
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