(DOCUMENTARY) ‘Life Under the Bridge’ is a documentary about Ron ‘Pepper’ Brown, a homeless artist living with HIV under the famous 6th Street Bridge in Los Angeles.
Winner Best Doc Short – Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood 2014; Winner Doc Category – RATMA International Film Festival 2014; Winner Reelshow International Student Film Competition – Doc Category 2013.
Directed/Camera/Edited/Produced by: Andrew McGivern
Music licensed from Pond5
Ron “Pepper” Brown
Other individuals appearing in this film wished to remain anonymous
I was directing a different student project – a narrative short film – in the downtown LA Arts District, and we were filming under the famous 6th Street Bridge. During the middle of a take, Pepper appeared from nowhere riding on his bike. It ruined the shot, of course, but for some reason he struck me as memorable, and I kept the camera trained on him for a minute or two. He saw me, and waved at the camera, grinning big.
Later, while viewing the dailies, I saw this footage of Pepper and made a mental note to learn more about him when I went back for some pickup shots. There was just something magnetic about him.
Luckily, he happened to be home (living under the bridge) when I arrived back a week later for pick up shots. I began a conversation with him, and he began telling the most amazing and fascinating stories. That was the beginning of the documentary, born of luck, opportunity, spontaneity, and the incredible personality of Ron “Pepper” Brown.
Interestingly, the shot of Pepper waving at the camera – before I even knew his name – is used in the final film. Goes to show – you just never know.
Interesting stories about making of film:
The footage during the end credits helps demonstrate Pepper’s generosity to others – as he gives not just one cigarette away to a fellow homeless friend, but the whole pack. Most intriguing is that it was the pack of cigs that I had brought for him earlier that day, as part of the shopping trip I’d made for him. It was practically new, and he just gave it away. And he didn’t ask for a replacement at any time.
There is no shortage of stories that feature these Pepper-ism’s – as I’ve come to call them.