Tramp Republic

Two homeless people establish a micro-nation on an island in the L.A. River.

Director’s Statement

Riding my bike along the L.A. River everyday, I’ve gotten to know some of the transients who inhabit its shores, and the myriad birds who nest among the trash-decorated trees. One day, I noticed a perfect little settlement on the shore of an island–a fishing platform perched on a tree branch, a fire pit, a homemade shanty. The image stuck in my head until months later, when I was reading about all the micro-nations people have established on pieces of unclaimed land around the world. It was from these thoughts that ‘Tramp Republic’ began to grow. While I hope the film makes people laugh, I also hope it humanizes a problem that we sometimes try to sweep away: there are 55,000+ people in Los Angeles who don’t know where they’re going to sleep tonight, and are forced by the authorities to shuffle from one highway overpass to another.

Since we actually filmed on an island in the L.A. River, our production was an adventure in itself–wading back and forth through the water with our camera equipment held high. In addition to writing and directing the film, I also composed and performed the score, which was constructed entirely from vocals and trash instruments–pots, pans, buckets, sticks–that I found in and around the river.