Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UT Alumni produce feature film ‘Home Free’ to showcase at Austin Film Festival

Courtesy of HOME FREE

The decision to offer up their home to an unhoused man would leave a profound impact on Aaron Brown and Lenny Barszap. 

The decision, which the two made while living together as sophomores, inspired UT Alumni Aaron Brown and Lenny Barszap to create the feature film “Home Free.” The film, which brings awareness to the houseless population in Austin, will have its second screening on Nov. 1 at the Galaxy Theatre as part of the Austin Film Festival. 

“We had just moved into our first house after the dorms, and we met a gentleman living in the park,” director and producer Brown said. “We invited him to crash on our porch if he ever wanted to get out of the weather, and that led to him becoming one of our roommates for almost a year.”

Barszap said they never intended to turn this formative life experience into a film. 

“We were with a bunch of other filmmakers telling old stories, and this was one of them,” writer and producer Barszap said. “The reaction in the room was, ‘You should tell that story.’”

Barszap said they needed to figure out how to tell the story of The Professor, as he’s referred to in the movie, a man who lived a complicated life, without straying the audience away. 

“Homelessness is tough and not a subject that people want to watch a movie about, it’s sad,” Barszap said. “So, how do we make this a fun college movie that happens to Trojan Horse this social impact message?”

To answer this question, the two decided to turn the film into a comedy. With all the chaos in the world today, people need comedy, Brown said.  

“We as a species live a life of experiences that are both beautiful and tragic,” Brown said. “It’s interesting how effective, throughout time, comedy has been to reveal the humanity of who we are as people.” 

While a comedic film, “Home Free” still centers around homelessness. As a part of producing their film, Brown and Barszap said they partnered with The Other Ones Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers emergency shelter, low-barrier work opportunities and supportive services to people experiencing homelessness in Austin.

“‘Home Free’ does a good job of humanizing what has become, unfortunately, a highly political issue,” said Max Moscoe, director of communications for TOOF. “Homelessness should not be a political issue. There are real people with real problems who need real solutions.”

Brown said the small decision he and Barszap made at 19 allowed them to initiate a conversation about an issue that affects thousands of people every day. 

“The things that you do, even small things, have profound impacts not only on your life, but the world,” Brown said. “We can’t all go out there and do some world-changing project that’s going to fix everything, (but) be aware of the ripple effect and how powerful that can be.” 

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