January 13, 2014
VANCOUVER (CANADIAN CHRISTIAN NEWS SERVICE)– Documentary filmmaker Kevin Miller will be premiering his new, 44-minute film The Chicken Manure Incident at Fresh Wind Christian Fellowship Church in Abbotsford, BC on January 25 at 7pm.
Shot in June and July 2013, at the height of the furor over the City of Abbotsford’s controversial decision to dump chicken manure on a spot frequented by the homeless, the film follows Ward Draper and Jesse Wegenast of 5&2 Ministries as they seek to hold the City, the Abbotsford Police department and the faith community to account.
Calling the film an “accidental documentary,” Miller says he just happened to be filming a profile of 5&2 founder Ward Draper when news of the chicken manure situation broke. Operating as a one-man crew, Miller followed the story as it developed over the ensuing weeks, leading to a class action lawsuit against the City and an internal investigation into police actions against the homeless. As it turns out, two of the leading spokespeople advocating on behalf of the homeless during this time were the very people Miller initially set out to profile-Ward Draper and Jesse Wegenast of the 5&2.
In addition to Draper and Wegenast, the film also features interviews with Mayor Bruce Banman, Chief Constable Bob Rich and several members of Abbotsford’s homeless community. The film’s score is provided by Aldergrove-based band Yuca and Mr. Bennett, an independent recording artist from the Toronto area.
“After spending the last several years traveling across North America and around the world, it was refreshing to find a gripping story right in my own back yard,” says Miller, who even converted his garage into a makeshift interview studio for the film. “While this is an intensely local story, I think it has ramifications far beyond Abbotsford.” He notes that two other Lower Mainland communities-Surrey and Port Coquitlam-have used similar tactics to deal with their homeless populations. “Clearly, there’s a level of frustration on all sides, and a lack of creativity when it comes to dealing with the problem of homelessness,” says Miller. “I’m hoping this film will spur some healthy discussion and creative problem-solving rather than scapegoating and name-calling.”
Miller financed production of the film himself and then raised money for post-production via an IndieGoGo campaign last fall. He is taking a similarly independent approach to distribution. In addition to a few targeted screenings in the Lower Mainland and Alberta, Miller is making the film available to churches, colleges and other groups in exchange for a donation. He also plans to release the film to the general public on VHX, Vimeo-on-Demand and other digital platforms following the Abbotsford screening. A portion of all proceeds raised by the film will go to 5&2 Ministries.
“I’m really hoping this film can generate not only financial capital for the 5&2 but social capital as well,” says Miller. “I think the work they’re doing is vitally important, and I feel privileged to not only highlight their efforts but to also support them financially as well.”
Miller, Draper and Wegenast will all be present at the Abbotsford premiere to do post-screening Q&A.
The Chicken Manure Incident marks Miller’s second outing as a writer-director. His previous film, Hellbound?, played in dozens of theatres across North America last year and was recently released on Netflix and the Documentary Channel. His previous credits include the feature-length documentaries Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed; Sex+Money, spOILed and With God On Our Side.
See the Trailer: http://vimeo.com/81736741
For further information and interviews:
Contact: Kevin Miller, Kevin Miller XI Productions Inc.