Filmmaker A-Nam Nguyen (left) explains below the background to I'm Not Looking for Coins, I'm Looking for Change, the film on homelessness that she made with fellow Rutgers student Dominique Turner.
I was taking the class “Race Gender Nation” as part of my capstone requirement for the Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) program at Rutgers University. That class helped me to understand the concept of “othering,” where people would remove themselves from people who are different based upon their personal or societal criteria. This act serves as a form of oppression to the people being othered. I also was involved in a campus Christian group that would visit New York City to help the homeless people there. I realized that we did not recognize the needs of the homeless people in New Brunswick, NJ. I started to ask why student organizations always thought of providing services for places outside of their own community, when the local residents also needed a lot of help. That troubled me, and I set out to create a social action project on homelessness in New Brunswick as part of the IWL program.
An opportunity to study filmmaking via a filmmaking learning community provided me with technical skills such as learning Final Cut Pro and operating a camera. I became acquainted with Dominique Turner when we were moved to another campus after Hurricane Sandy. Dominique told me that, due to our experience of relocation, she could relate to the idea of being homeless and feeling helpless in such situations. Her ability to see that homelessness could affect anyone led her to join me in my project to create a film about homelessness.
Much groundwork had to be done before we could begin filming. I would go to the local soup kitchen at dinner time, where I would sit with strangers, talk to them about my project, and explain my interest for helping homeless people gain a voice in the community. Most people were more than willing to share their experiences, but nearly all of them did not want to be filmed. They had no objection to having their voices recorded on audio, but being on camera meant that they would be identified as homeless—not something they found acceptable. I often wondered if I would ever find the subject for my film.
|Dominique Turner films Jill Tice feeding cats for |
I'm Not Looking for Coins, I'm Looking for Change