Founder of Invisible People Captures Stories of the Homeless for Social Change, Using Only Social Media and iphone

Caution: Some content may be offensive. Our hope is you’ll get mad enough to do something. InvisiblePeople.tv

Mark Horvath refers to himself as “Invisible People Founder, Chief Evangelistic Officer, Do-Gooder and Loud Mouth”.  Since its launch in November 2008, Invisible People has leveraged the power of video and the massive reach of social media to share the compelling, gritty, and unfiltered stories of homeless people from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. The vlog (video blog) gets up close and personal with veterans, mothers, children, layoff victims and others who have been forced onto the streets by a variety of circumstances. A former Hollywood producer,  Mark took to the streets to give the homeless a voice, after becoming homeless himself.

Mark was a featured panelist at a UCLA presentation on Transmedia Storytelling for Good on September 23, 2013.  He is an inspiring, dynamic, and larger-than-life character who interviews homeless people and captures them on video.  He likes to ask: What would your three wishes be? If he gets into an interesting conversation with someone online, he invites them to coffee to build the conversation and develop some trust before asking permission to film them.  He says that photo releases don’t help build relationships.  After he meets with people, he gives them a business card and promises them that at any point if they want their video removed, he will remove it.

Mark captured such a compelling interview with a homeless woman in Great Britain (where she explains that she can’t find work because of homeless-related medical condition but she doesn’t qualify for assistance because she isn’t pregnant and so forth) that attracted so many viewers that it ultimately led to a revamping of British homeless policy.  He says that when he walks the streets, real homeless people will take his socks, gladly.

According to Mark, we over-think stuff when it comes to capturing stories on film; that we think we need special equipment to do the job. He launched his successful campaign with $45, a laptop and an iphone.  “Just do it.,”  he says.  He calls this kind of work “life casting” or “reality twittering” and believes that authenticity replaces production values.  Tumblr syncs to Twitter and Facebook, and so on.  That is the concept behind Transmedia storytelling.  He uses Instagram to link to all the other social media platforms.  He says to post where your people use the media.  He thinks that social media will turn into cable TV and suggests purchasing all possible user names as soon as possible.  His website allows homeless people to post comments and have a voice.

For more information, see: http://invisiblepeople.tv/blog/ – This link has clips of his interviews with homeless people.  To see some of his other blog posts, go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-horvath/.

Transmedia Storytelling for Good, was an innovative panel presentation at UCLA on 9/23/13 that demonstrated ways to promote health, create social change, and educate through storytelling via multiple social media channels.  The event was sponsored by the UCLA Department of Community Health Sciences and MPH for Health Professionals Program, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health,  Weinreich Communications, and  Transmedia for Good SoCal29. 

Click here to view the panel presentation.
Mark was the second presenter.

Most of the information in this blog post was contributed by Ping Ho, MA, MPH – Founding Director of UCLArts and Healing, who attended the panel presentation.