In the summer of 2009, Calgary film-maker Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi, 32, and medical engineer Brent King, 42, loaded an RV full of men’s underwear to be delivered to homeless shelters across Canada. Eleven days and 10 cities later, they had delivered more than 25,000 pairs of tighty-whities to shelters across Canada and they documented the trip in the short film “One Problem.” “One Problem” is a survey of the Canadian homeless community through the lens of an eleven day cross Canada underwear drive. Yazdi and King had three simple goals in mind; to deliver a small luxury to as many people as possible, create some media excitement to bring attention to the issue, and learn as much as possible about homelessness in Canada, Brent acts as a guide through a sensitive and touching journey into the issues of some of Canada’s forgotten citizens.
It’s one guy, deciding to solve one problem,” said Eshraghi-Yazdi, creative director of Nur Films who was documenting the drive across Canada.“The gist of the video is that anyone can do anything. It’s about focusing on the issues, one problem at a time, as opposed to dealing with it like an institution or as this big entity called homelessness.
The inspiration behind Brent King’s charity work came from years of making anonymous donations to organizations and individuals who helped the homeless in Calgary.
I felt the best way to make a charitable donation — this is what I used to believe — was to make it anonymously and not tell anyone about it, said King. As I matured in this giving notion, I started to realize that there was something more to be had. I wanted to use some of the skills that I had in business and my career as an engineer to try to give more than just money.
King contacted the Mustard Seed in Calgary and inquired about their greatest needs. At the top of the organization’s wish list was underwear. Having identified the problem, King went to buy 2,500 pairs of underwear, a number given to him by the Mustard Seed’s staff.
He remembers “actually standing in a Walmart, looking at their wall of men’s underwear, and realizing that underwear, first of all, isn’t cheap, and second of all, Walmart doesn’t have 2,500 pairs.”
It was at this point King reached out to friends and business partners alike. His proposition was to keep buying underwear for shelters across Canada, west to east, and personally deliver the goods.
He raised enough money to get to Halifax.
King was given the idea to document his cross-Canada trip, and went in search of local filmmakers to join him on his first journey. Through the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, Eshraghi-Yazdi and many others expressed interest in the project. King asked a friend in the film industry to help him choose.
“He heard Ramin‘s name and said ‘If he’s willing to go, do it. He’s very good, he’s very talented, very socially-minded,’” King said.
After two short meetings over coffee, Eshraghi-Yazdi and King boarded a RV full of men’s briefs and began their journey.
There are very few people I could spend 11 days in a motor home with,” King said. “We never ran out of stuff to talk about … it was basically a 11-day brainstorming session about what is homelessness and how can we solve it. About how are these guys doing it differently here than they were in the last city. That’s what the entire documentary is about.
Eshraghi-Yazdi accompanied King on the first year of the underwear drive, while Robb Price joined King in 2010.
Every organization that we stopped at was so excited that we were there, so welcoming and so hospitable. It was just a really neat trip. You start to realize after Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, it doesn’t matter where you are, this problem is the same.”
King plans to continue to raise money and deliver underwear across Canada in the years to come.
Nur Films is a Calgary based full service creative agency specializing in film and video for all applications from web content marketing to narrative, documentary and music video. Headed by creative director Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi and a roster of some of Calgary’s finest designers, artists, film makers, illustrators, and musicians, Nur Films strives to make inspiring content that is accessible and relevant. In addition to documentaries Nur Films also produces promotional vehicles such as a commercial for Lipton Tea, a video for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, a commercial for Calgary 2012 Arts Capital of Canada and a video for Tourism Calgary.
See more about Nur Films.