TV Docuseries

Through the form of a TV docuseries and with the help of a National Media Network, we aim to help raise national awareness of some of the causes and effects surrounding homelessness, helping create a new paradigm on poverty and homelessness.

By connecting with our audience, we hope our TV Series will push viewers to think more openly, and challenge themselves to see the world from a different viewpoint. We believe that by bringing the world together to share these stories of homelessness and a community uniting, it will help make us more tolerant of difference and of one another. 

“I have always had a strong desire to film Lee’s story and those of other people currently experiencing homelessness, and when Lee passed away it reignited that fire.” – Zach Waters, Founder & CEO

At A Lee Dog Story, we believe that Lee can serve as an inspiration to those currently experiencing homelessness while also giving a blueprint to community residents who want to end homelessness permanently. At A Lee Dog story, we are committed to learning as much as we can from Lee’s story and other individuals currently experiencing homelessness.

Where ?

Memphis, TN

When ?

July 2020 - July 2022

Who IS producING?

Play Video

We are excited to announce that Christopher O’Conner, Memphis native and founder and CEO of Prodigi Arts is helping produce this TV series. Chris and his team of professionals, including Emmy Award winning cinematographer Joel Evans have created projects for Disney, Memphis Grizzlies, FedEx, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital just to name a few, and are now working on several major TV productions in L.A.

In 2008, while attending Memphis College of Art, Zach Waters set out to film a trailer for his docuseries concept, in which he would interview homeless people in Memphis, TN to hear their stories. After filming multiple stories around the city, one of the most profound interviews Zach filmed was Lee Brown’s, aka ‘Lee Dog’. Lee lived on the streets of Memphis for almost 20 years, but in his last 15 and with the help of the Memphis community he was able to get off the streets and into stable, affordable housing.

In July 2018, Lee Brown passed away in Memphis, TN. Zach Waters founded A Lee Dog Story the next day, successfully becoming a federally exempt 501(c)(3) organization in less than one month.

Storytelling Through Art

Asset-Based Approach

At a Lee Dog Story and Homes for Hearts, we understand that many types of people experience homelessness and that although they have fallen on hard times, each of them have unique abilities and skills to bring to our communities. Many social service organizations often look at clients as “people with problems”. Staff ask “what’s wrong with this person?” or “How can I fix this person?” Instead of focusing on what is wrong with our client, we begin by emphasizing a person’s strengths and resources (internal and external) in the process of change. When challenges are experienced, problems and issues are acknowledged and validated, and strengths are identified and highlighted. This creates a powerful cycle where our clients are constantly improving themselves and their surroundings as they progress on the path to stable housing. 

People-First Language

At a Lee Dog Story and Homes for Hearts, we utilize “People-first” language. This rhetorical strategy, which has been embraced by the CDC, the American Psychological Association, and many others, is used as a way to break down negative stereotypes and promote the self-worth of individuals. Because of this, we refer to the people we are working for as people first—as adults, young people, children, Veterans—who are experiencing homelessness. When we use language such as “homeless people” or “homeless services,” it does not convey the vision of effective, person-centered responses that end homelessness and instead can sound like we’re describing an intractable problem that is about people who are fundamentally different from us. By using the description ‘people experiencing homelessness,’ we put the responsibility on our entire community to bring about a change to the status quo.

Ethical Storytelling Pledge

At a Lee Dog Story and Homes for Hearts, we are committed to telling stories in an ethical way so as to best promote the humanity and dignity of everyone we engage with.

A Lee Dog Story signed the Ethical Storytelling Pledge!

We pledge to:

 

  • Tell others’ stories the way we want our story told.
  • Always put people first.
  • Explain to constituents the purpose of the story, where it will be used and answer any questions they might have before photographing, filming or recording.
  • Find an able translator if we speak different languages.
  • Ask the constituent if they wish to be named or identified and act according to their wishes.
  • Use all images and messages with the full understanding, participation and permission of the constituent or the constituent’s legal guardian.
  • Uphold the dignity of our constituents through empowering imagery and messages that motivate engagement and inspire hope.
  • Truthfully represent a situation or story to educate our audiences of the realities, complexities and nuances of the issues we advocate for.
  • Not use images, footage or words that sensationalize or stereotype a person or a situation.
  • Ask for feedback from our constituents and incorporate this feedback into the final story.
  • Abide by international law, standards and protocols related to vulnerable persons, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
  • Listen to our constituents’ voices and respect their decisions, story and journey.
  • Hold a posture of humility and learning, recognizing that failures can be our biggest educators.
  • Seek advice if we question whether a particular story, message or image is not in alignment with ethical storytelling practices.
  • Not tell the story, despite the resources invested, when the story cannot be told with the integrity of this pledge.
  • Take ownership of our responsibility to uphold integrity in our storytelling and messaging.

 

As a community of nonprofit practitioners and storytellers we commit to learning from the past and integrating a new standard of storytelling as we journey together into the future.

What will you film?

  1. Stories from men, women, and children experiencing homelessness in Memphis, TN.
  2. A community uniting to help people experiencing homelessness off the streets, with housing, community-based social, and emotional support, food, clothing, health care, medication, transportation, a steady paying job and financial planning.
  3. Construction of our first Homestead in Memphis, TN, including the volunteers that help build the tiny homes and community.
  4. The arrival, transition, recovery, and empowerment of our 6 Cottage Court residents over a 12 month period. 
  5. Street artists, fine artists, digital artists, photographers and their artwork created and inspired by A Lee Dog Story and Homes for Hearts, to help raise funds and awareness for our project. Their contributed artwork will help tell our story of poverty, homelessness, home, hope, growth, recovery and Lee Dog. At A Lee Dog Story, we believe that art is incredibly powerful and helps to connect and celebrate community, showcase values, and embrace the humanity of all people. In order to change the current paradigm on homelessness in Memphis and around the country, we will come together as a community to learn more about the humanity of those experiencing homelessness through a variety of artistic mediums. 
  6. Lee Brown’s story of living life on the streets for over 20 years, and how in his last 15 and with the help of the Memphis community he was able to get off the streets and into permanent, affordable housing. This story will be recounted through his family and friend’s memories, news articles and past videos of Lee. At A Lee Dog Story, we believe that Lee’s story can serve as an inspiration to those currently experiencing homelessness, while also giving a blueprint to community members who want to end homelessness permanently. At A Lee Dog story, we are committed to learning as much as we can from Lee’s story and other individuals currently experiencing homelessness. Once we know their stories, we can work together in solidarity to end the plague of homelessness in our communities. 
  7. Our artist’s and community’s personal experience with homelessness.
  8. Our Homestead residents, neighbors, volunteers, case workers, community leaders, artists, social workers, health care professionals and construction team’s stories of community, and how it helps to transform a city, its neighborhoods and people. Beloved community means believing in justice and equal opportunity while always committing to show love to fellow human beings. Each of our Cottage Courts will be anchored by the establishment of a beloved community, made up of the residents and the surrounding neighborhood. 
  9. Our city, Memphis, TN along with its people, infrastructure, culture, arts, businesses, and history. Memphis is an amazing city, with a rich history of culture and arts and we look froward to shining a light on its residents, community, architecture, culture, food, arts, history and hopes for the future.  
  10. Stories of homelessness from other major cities across the U.S. Each city handles homelessness in a very different way, and we aim to learn from each city in order to help figure out what is working and what is not, in order to bring together the best overall solution to help our friends experiencing homelessness.  
  11. History of Homelessness in the United States, and its impact on the economy, environment and our country’s population. 

Season 1

Stories from current men, women and children experiencing homelessness and living in Memphis, TN. 

  • Interviews from people experiencing homelessness of what it’s like living in the city of Memphis without a permanent home, their experiences with emergency shelters, missions, food banks, and the resources they have found available. 
  • Interviews of their experiences with local businesses, parks, streets, alleyways, underpasses, traffic, animals, weather, morning, day and night. 
  • Interviews from these individuals of other people they know or have known, that have experienced homelessness.
  • Interviews of their experiences with people that give them money, food, clothes or shelter, people that help them or refuse to help.
  • Interviews of their accounts of police, jails, and the court system. 
  • Interviews of their experience with family, friends, past, reasons they feel they are in the situation they are in and hopes for the future.
  • Interviews from these individuals family and friends. 

 

The Memphis community uniting to help 6 people experiencing homelessness off the streets off the streets, and into permanent, affordable housing. 

  • Interviews from social workers, health care professionals, community leaders, case workers and volunteers about their personal experiences with our Cottage Court community residents.
  • A Lee Dog Story and Homes for Hearts sponsors, partners, case workers, social workers, health care professionals and volunteers uniting to help these 6 individuals with clothing, community-based social, and emotional support, food, clothing, health care, medication, transportation, a steady paying job along with financial planning.

 

Construction of our first Cottage Court in Memphis, TN, including the construction workers and volunteers that help build the tiny homes and community.

  • Beginning, progression and completion of our residents tiny homes and Homestead.
  • Construction of our Homesteads community center, bike ways, community gardens, public neighborhood art installations and paintings.    

 

The arrival, transition, recovery, and empowerment of our 6 Homestead residents over a 12 month period.

  • Interview process we undergo in order to find the best candidates to move into the community.
  • Our resident’s arrival into their tiny homes and community, their braveness, struggles, fears, doubts, needs, obligations, sense of home, hopes, goals, desires, emotions and spirit. 
  • Our residents transition into their tiny homes. We will interview each member on a monthly basis, over a 12 month period and ask how it feels to be off the streets, into housing and with a community-based support system to encourage their growth. 
  • Our volunteers, case workers, social workers, health care specialists, community leaders and neighbors conversations with our residents. 
  • Our Homestead’s community center’s weekly meetings, that all residents must attend over the course of a 12 month period.
  • Our resident’s recovery within the Homestead, including their commitment, hard work, dedication, perseverance, resilience, growth, transformation, empowerment, and sustainability after a 12 month period.

 

Street artists, fine artists, digital artists, photographers and their artwork created and inspired by A Lee Dog Story, to help raise funds and awareness for our organization. Their contributed artwork will help tell our story of poverty, homelessness, home, hope, growth, recovery and Lee Dog.

  • Our Nationally recognized Street Artist’s development, process and creation of murals, inspired by A Lee Dog Story and Homes for Hearts, created within Memphis, and other major cities around the country to help raise awareness for our organizations.
  • Our Fine Artist’s and Digital Artist’s development, process and creation of original artwork, inspired by A Lee Dog Story and Homes for Hearts to help raise and awareness for our organizations.
  • Our photographers within their artistic environment, photographing people experiencing homelessness and them getting off the streets.
  • Our artist’s experience with homelessness.
  • Interviews from each of our artists about how art can help connect a community, bring peace and comfort, revitalize our neighborhoods, increase our sense of well-being, speak the unspeakable, enhance our environment by bringing color and life to home, and challenge viewers intellectually, pushing them to think more openly, and challenge themselves to see the world from a different viewpoint, all while helping tell a story.

 

Lee Brown’s story of living life on the streets for over 20 years, and how in his last 15 and with the help of the Memphis community he was able to get off the streets and into permanent, affordable housing.  

  • Lee’s story will be recounted through his friend’s and family’s memories. We will interview a dynamic range of individuals from different neighborhoods, back grounds, occupations, age, sex, ethnicity, whom all have stories to share of Lee, including current people experiencing homelessness. We will ask them what they remember about Lee the most, what they think helped him the most, but also might have hurt him. 
  • From Midtown to Downtown Memphis, we will venture to some of Lee’s favorite spots to explore, eat, sleep, and engage with the Memphis community.
  • Interviews from the Memphis’ community that reached out and helped Lee get back on his feet, and off the streets. We will visit his final apartments, and the neighborhoods he found sanctuary, love and community in.  
  • Interviews from Lee’s family, about his life before and after homelessness.

 

Our artist’s and community’s personal experience with homelessness, and their perceptions of homelessness.

  • Interviews from social workers, health care professionals, community leaders, case workers and volunteers about their personal experiences with homelessness. 
  • Interviews from the community, A Lee Dog Story’s sponsors, partners, case workers, social workers, health care professionals and volunteers personal experiences with homelessness. 
  • Interviews from police officers, politicians, judges, about their personal experiences with homelessness.
  • Interviews from Memphis business owners, about their personal experiences with homelessness.
  • Interviews from other Memphis residents, community activists and leaders, about their personal experiences with homelessness.

 

Our Cottage Court residents, neighbors, volunteers, case workers, community leaders, artists, social workers, health care professionals and construction team’s stories of community, and how they think it helps to transform and connect a city, its neighborhoods and people.

  • Interviews of their personal experiences and feelings surrounding community, and how it helps to transform and connect a city, its neighborhoods and people.

 

Our city, Memphis, TN along with its people, infrastructure, culture, arts, businesses, and history.

  • Memphis city’s environment and landscape. 

 

Stories of homelessness from other major cities across the U.S. 

  • Interviews from people in other major cities around the country experiencing homelessness, and their experience of what life is like living on the streets. 
  • Interviews of their experiences with emergency shelters, missions, food banks, and the resources they have found currently available in their city. 
  • Interviews about their past, reasons they feel they are in the situation they are in and hopes for the future.

Season 2

  • Continue to tell Lee Brown’s story through his friend’s and family’s memories.
  • Interviews from people experiencing homelessness in Denver, Colorado, and their experience of what life is like living on the streets. 
  • Interviews from residents of Denver, Colorado, and their experience with homelessness
  • Interviews from people in other major cities around the country experiencing homelessness, and their experience of what life is like living on the streets. 
  • Revisit our first Homestead and its residents, updating viewers with the resident’s experience, trials, success, and hopes for the future.
  • Revisit with Season one’s social workers, health care professionals, community leaders, case workers and volunteers for new interviews about their personal experiences with our community residents and Tiny Home Development. Interviews from each individual on their views of our Cottage Courts, how it helped connect people, build community, impact positive change in people’s lives and help the city of Memphis.
  • History of Homelessness in the United States, and its impact on the economy, environment and our country’s population. 
  • Find stories of what other people around the world are doing to help people experiencing homelessness in their surrounding area. 

Season 3

  • Continue to tell Lee Brown’s story through his friend’s and family’s memories.
  • Interviews from people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles, California, and their experience of what life is like living on the streets. 
  • Interviews from residents of Los Angeles, California, and their experience with homelessness.
  • Interviews from people in other major cities around the country experiencing homelessness, and their experience of what life is like living on the streets.
  • Revisit our first Homestead and its residents, updating viewers with the residents experience, trials, success, and hopes for the future.
  • Continue to tell the history of Homelessness in the United States, and its impact on the economy, environment and our country’s population. 
  • Continue to find stories of what other people around the world are doing to help people experiencing homelessness in their surrounding area. 

Season 4

  • Complete Lee Brown’s story through his friend’s and family’s memories.
  • Interviews from people experiencing homelessness in Manhattan, New York and their experience of what life is like living on the streets. 
  • Interviews from residents of Manhattan, New York, and their experience with homelessness.
  • Construction of our second Cottage Court in Memphis, TN, including the new residents.
  • Final interviews from different people experiencing homelessness in other major cities around the country, and their experience of what life is like living on the streets.  
  • Complete the history of Homelessness in the United States, and its impact on the economy, environment and our country’s population. 
  • Final stories of what other people around the world are doing to help people experiencing homelessness in their surrounding area.
  • Revisit our first Homestead and its residents, updating viewers with the residents experience, trials, success, and hopes for the future.