In January 2011 Paul Crane(Director) discovered a tent city in downtown St. Louis, along the Mississippi River. He was curious as to who these people were, how they ended up there, and what life was like for them each day. So for a few weeks he spent nearly everyday at the tent city volunteering and getting to know people. He began to think that this place and the people living there could make a great story and he asked them if he could shoot some video, and they said “okay”. He initially thought he would simply go down during the day and capture footage when possible, but he quickly realized that if he wanted to truly capture how these people lived and the full reality of their collective and individual existence, he would have to be there full time and become a part of the place, so he moved in with them.
He was intrigued at how tent city was populated by so many people of different races and ages and beliefs, but they all had to learn how to live together in order to maintain the existence of their homes. Right away he learned that an overall feeling among every resident was that they preferred living there over a homeless shelter, and he wondered if this could possibly be a good alternative for homeless people. Some of the residents had jobs, had cars, were in relationships, and this was their home. It was just a different type of home.
“I just need to find a place, like a log cabin and get away from the world. I like the world, I’m just not one for the world.
“They’re like a mom and dad…that sounds weird for a 50 year old going on 20, but it’s like having a mom and dad, for real…something I haven’t had in years bro”.
“I don’t think I would’ve made it without Dave” – Bonnie
“Sometimes i wish i wasn’t with her, sometimes I’m glad i was with her” – David
“My mom always said you can’t live for free. If my mom was alive today I’d tell her ‘ya know what, you can live for free cause i’ve been doing it for 8 years, and so have a lot of other people. I know people who’ve been out for 30 years’.”
Directed by Paul Crane
Edited by Paul Crane and Liz Fornango
Produced by Matthew Hyland
Original Music by Matthew Hyland
Sound Editing and Mixing by Hugmonster Sound
Executive Producers Kelly Hyland and Roger Miller
Additional photos by Robert Boettcher and Mark Ogier
Additional footage by Wulf
Paul started filming Living In Tents in 2011 and officially wrapped the project in 2018. For several years during this time Paul had to put the project on the shelf so he could concentrate on starting his own video production business, Crane Creative. Since then Crane Creative has produced videos for clients such as Washington University, NASA, St. Louis County Library, Maryville University and many others.