Los Angeles – Photographer and filmmaker Deirdre O’Callaghan is today releasing her newest project, Winter in America. Through portrait photography and a 13-minute documentary, Deirdre focuses on the homeless community Downtown Los Angeles’ notorious Skid Row.
Many of the people living there experience hardship, struggling with homelessness, addiction and mental health issues, but all of them appear to find incredible solace in music, which is the driving narrative behind this film.
The original score for the film was composed by LA musician Georgia Anne Muldrow. A mainstay of the city’s hip-hop, jazz and soul avant-garde since 2005, Georgia has worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, Bilal, and Mos Def, who said of her, “She’s like [Roberta] Flack, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, she’s something else.”
“The aim of the work is to humanize and give voice to these people’s stories, but also to raise awareness of the dire situations and challenges they experience on a daily basis. Since living here in LA, I’ve been very aware and increasingly shocked by the homeless situation. The loss of humanity caused by institutional disenfranchisement and societal violence toward certain groups is something I knew I wanted to address through my work.”
The film was commissioned by Damian Bradfield, the president of WeTransfer, which opened an office in LA’s Venice Beach in 2016. The film will premiere on WeTransfer’s WePresent content site, and is part of a broad range of commitments WeTransfer has made to the local LA community.
Homelessness is one of the city’s biggest issues, with an estimated 50,000 people sleeping rough across Los Angeles.
“When we first moved to LA, Ann Philbin of the Hammer Museum said to me, ‘Don’t do to LA what tech did to San Francisco.’ I’ve thought a lot about this comment, and we’ve thought a lot about our responsibilities as a tech company coming into a new city. Our recent initiative to pay down medical debt in Venice Beach, and our efforts last year to build a net neutral wireless network show the kind of company we aspire to be. This film shows a different side of one of the city’s most urgent stories, and we’re proud to support an artist like Deirdre in bringing it to life.”
The film can be watched on WePresent here: https://wepresent.wetransfer.com/story/deirdre-o-callaghan-skid-row/
As part of the original team at the iconic UK magazine Dazed & Confused (now published as ‘Dazed’), Deirdre’s passion for music instinctively steered her career to shoot artwork and press materials for all of the major record companies, including Warner Music, Beggars Group, Domino, Universal Music Group & Warp. Following this Deirdre began working with artists such as The National, U2, Laura Marling, Damon Albarn, De La Soul, Peaches, Gang Starr, Alex Turner, Josh Homme & Grinderman. In addition, her commercial and editorial work includes clients such as Samsung, Yamaha, Adidas, LVMH, Nokia, The Sunday Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Vogue, GQ, The Guardian Magazine, M Le Magazine du Monde, Esquire and Another Magazine.
Throughout her career as a photographer, Deirdre has also undertaken a number of personal independent photographic projects. Her first book, Hide That Can, was the culmination of four years spent photographing the men of Arlington House, a hostel in Camden, London. Hide That Can was awarded Book of the Year by both the International Center of Photography in New York and Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles. During 2003 - 2009, Deirdre spent time living at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, working on a photographic project about the hotel. Throughout this time, she developed relationships with staff and the hotel’s long term residents, who graciously welcomed her into their unique living spaces and shared their stories and insights into this landmark hotel. Shot over the final six years of its independent management, this project turned out to be a portrait of the end of an era. This work will be published to coincide with the opening of the renovated hotel.
In 2011, Deirdre began a photographic and interview book project - The Drum Thing - featuring 100 of the most unique and established drummers in the world today, including: Tony Allen of Fela Kuti and Damon Albarn collaborations, Jaki Liebezeit of Can, Questlove of The Roots, Neil Peart of Rush, Stewart Copeland of The Police, Ginger Baker of Cream, Zach Hill of Death Grips, Lars Ulrich of Metallica and Ringo Starr of The Beatles. The Drum Thing was published to considerable critical acclaim, by Prestel, in Autumn 2016, and was featured by numerous publications, including New York Times, The Guardian Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Wired, Another Magazine, and Dazed. Deirdre was interviewed extensively about The Drum Thing, with appearances on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM Radio Show, The Dave Fanning Show on RTE 2fm and Culture File on Lyric FM.