Thomas’ Journey

Meeting Thomas

Many people have asked us how we met Thomas. We first heard about Thomas while talking to the owner of a local corner store about our film. He began describing this endearing, gregarious homeless man that frequented his store and as we heard more, we knew this was someone we had to meet.

We soon realized what the people who live in his neighborhood had already known for many years- that he is hard to miss and always on the street corner smiling, waving and greeting everyone that walks by. Over the course of almost two years, we met with Thomas regularly and got to know him better than most.

Though we spent the most time with Thomas out of all of the individuals featured in Voices, he was also the one we knew least well in terms of personal details. One of the challenges of making this film was that homeless individuals with serious mental illness, who were the original population that we wanted to focus on for this film, were oftentimes too psychotically disorganized or paranoid to be able to open up and share their stories in a manner that would understandably and easily translate on camera. So while we treasured the personal details that Thomas did share with us, we ended up branching out and speaking to more individuals and families in different settings, which added another dimension to our narratives.

– Hiroshi Hara; Director, Director of Photography & Editor