More Tents Downtown, For A Film Set

Tents on the sidewalks of Downtown LA are common, reminding us daily of the scope of homelessness here. But the other night we noticed something strange about a group of tents set up on Winston St. between Main and Los Angeles: they were shiny and new, padlocked to parking meters, and wrapped in caution tape. Looking closer, we realized that all the tents were empty and the security guard idling nearby was watching them. Was this a protest? An art installation? Unfortunately not. It was a film set. 

Film sets in Downtown LA are as ubiquitous as tents. We’re used to seeing fake NYC taxis or subway stops set up for shoots, and street closures for car commercials are weekly occurrences. But the fact that a film crew set up tents one block away from a stretch of real tents sheltering real homeless people seems absurd. Why create something fake when the real thing is a block away? Couldn’t this film crew have paid some real tent dwellers across the street to film their shelters? Setting up and guarding empty tents in an area where so many are sleeping exposed on the street seems heinously taunting to those in desperate need of housing. It’s frustrating that the film industry, with its money and influence, is so venerated by many in Los Angeles yet so unconcerned with the sensitivities and needs of the communities in which it shoots.

Tents along San Pedro St. in Skid Row.
(photo via KCRW)