Everybody deserves a second chance. That’s what Danny Costanzo thought when he formed WeAreTheStreets.org, a philanthropic project under his company Costanzo Media.
After completing his studies at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Costanzo dabbled in the the film industry and formed his own talent management company. He also produced his first film, Lost in Austin. Shortly after, Costanzo made the decision to found his own media company — Costanzo Media. Among his aspirations, however, was a desire to give back to the community in a unique and creative way.
“With more than 50,000 people dealing with homelessness in LA, something just needs to be done,” Costanzo said. “The whole idea of giving food … it didn’t appeal to me, because I think helping needs to do much more than that.”
Earlier this year, Costanzo and his team began developing ideas for WeAreTheStreets.org. The project will be a film festival that will showcase the work of aspiring filmmakers and the talent of the homeless in Los Angeles’ Skid Row.
WeAreTheStreets.org will help filmmakers and members of the community write, produce, act and film short films in their entirety. Afterward, the short films will be submitted for entry in the film festival. They will also be double-purposed as a way to raise funds for homeless communities that the filmmakers work with.
The project aims to raise awareness about homeless people on Skid Row and also provide them with a platform to express their artistic abilities. Beyond this, a majority of funds raised from the film festival will go toward rehabilitation programs to help homeless individuals return to society as productive, working individuals.
In addition, filmmakers who raise the most funds for their film submissions will win money for filmmaking equipment, pitch opportunities with film companies as well as have their short film distributed. WeAreTheStreets.org aims to create a beneficial relationship that will help both filmmakers and homeless individuals.
“We want to show that [the people on] Skid Row are also individuals,” said Roxanne Martinez, who serves as the chief operating officer of Costanzo Media. “This project isn’t about sob stories or documentaries — it’s about showing the world that homeless people are just as capable and talented as any other person.”
To start their project, Costanzo and filmmakers at WeAreTheStreets.org went to Skid Row and reached out to homeless crowds. Approximately 50 notepads were handed out to individuals throughout the area so that they could develop ideas about what they wanted to do.
“Contrary to what people might think, the suggestions we’ve gotten for the films have been quite interesting,” Martinez said. “Some of them were definitely a little wacky, but some of them were actually quite good.”
WeAreTheStreets.org will launch its Indiegogo campaign on Nov. 7. In the meantime, Costanzo and his team will continue to work with the homeless and further develop their project plan.