Art Institute Students Filming Documentary On Denver Homelessness

02/02/2011 03:11 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

For months, two film students from the Art Institute of Colorado have been grappling with one of Denver's biggest problems: homelessness. What started as a short project for a class on media literacy evolved into a work of painful musing on factors leading to homelessness in Denver.

After launching their project, Kasey Orr, 28, and Benjamin Harris, 22, found themselves with more questions than answers. Though they currently have over 20 hours of footage, their documentary, "Homeless: A Closer Look," is still in production, even though the class that started it has long-since ended.

So far they say they've got enough footage on chronic homelessness, the most common stereotype of homelessness. But their main goal is documenting root causes and hopefully some answers from congressmen, and families on the streets.

Because so much of the homeless population are in shelters and working or seeking jobs, Harris says the people on the street represent only 10% of the homeless population. The vast majority remain largely unseen.

"There's a depth to it people don't understand because they're trying so hard to ignore the guy asking for change," Orr said. Most of the people they've talked to so far are homeless as a direct result of the economy, Orr says.

According to Denver's Road Home, 60% of Denver's homeless are families with children and 40% of Denver's homeless have jobs.

Orr and Harris recommend visiting a shelter to see the real complexities of homelessness.

"It's actually incredible to see how many people are there," Harris said.

In fact, the documentary has become so important to them because of those complexities, Orr says. Denver is their microcosm of a national, and even worldwide, issue.

It is easy to get caught up in the largeness of a problem that effects a nation. People watch national news all the time and complain about the President or the Senate, and have so much to say about laws or goings on in national levels, but then they have no idea what's going on in their own city council, or state legislature. People forget how much power they have in local arenas, and how much one community turning itself around can inspire others to do the same. Showing people an issue like this as it affects their own neighborhoods and communities can open their eyes to how simple it is to be a part of the solution, instead of looking at a gargantuan problem that makes you feel helpless.

Orr and Harris say they still have to talk with Governor Hickenlooper and some members of the Legislature.

Both Orr and Harris aspire to be professional filmmakers.