Inspired by the rise of homelessness in and around the state, Community College of Rhode Island adjunct professor Brian O’Malley is putting the finishing touches on an animated short he hopes will raise awareness to assist families struggling from such housing insecurities.
O’Malley, who teaches digital art at CCRI and in 2020 founded the Rhode Island Independent Animators (RIIA) collaborative, plans within the next month to release Unsheltered, a six-minute animated film that tells the story of a 10-year-old boy who loses both of his parents and winds up homeless in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Crossroads Rhode Island, approximately 4,000 people per year experience homelessness in the Ocean State, and one of every four are children. O’Malley – the sole writer and director of the film – hopes Unsheltered will help raise awareness and influence others to contribute financially to help end homelessness. In addition, he will donate half of the funds raised by the film to The Holy Family Home for Mothers and Children, a homeless shelter in Providence; next week, he will make an initial donation of $1,200, which he solicited through a fund-raising video posted on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.
O’Malley developed the concept for the film in March of 2020, shortly after the first few cases of coronavirus reached Rhode Island, and loosely based the protagonist’s story on his own youth; while never homeless, O’Malley admits to living “hand to mouth,” driving cross country while at times living out of his car. The film also features on original score from Providence-based composer Peter Scartabello.
“When I heard the statistics on homeless in Rhode Island, it blew my mind,” O’Malley said. “People need help, and if I can raise a small portion to give back to our community, I’m happy to do that.”
Once the film is completed, O’Malley will release a trailer to the public and then submit the finished product to various independent film festivals. The next step, depending on COVID protocols this summer, is to revive the RIAA collaborative – six of his seven scheduled events were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic – and premier the film in Rhode Island at public screenings. O’Malley hopes his upcoming $1,200 donation is the first of many in 2021.