Prepare to have all your prejudices about homelessness challenged in this quietly beautiful London Short. Richard is an eye-opening documentary directed by Matthew Hopkins about a wandering piano tuner with no fixed address, who claims the entire city as his home.
The film shows the lifestyle of a largely unchartered group: the working homeless, or people who have day jobs but sleep rough at night. Not that rough here means desperate. Richard Roberts has chosen this lifestyle and negotiates its highs and lows like a true zen master.
Hopkins told Londonist: “The inspiration behind the film was simply Richard’s story. On the face of it, it was a very simple hook, but as I spent more time with him I realised there was a lot more to his story about fulfilment and happiness than the simple logistics of where he lives."
"A moment that stands out during my time with Richard was when he explained how his physical baggage gave him so much emotional baggage. Without owning anything he was able to really focus on the world around him and when I spent time with him I noticed he gave me his full attention — which is something rare these days."
Hopkins spent three days interviewing and filming Richard and explains how the process gave him a fresh perspective on the capital: “London is such an incredible city to shoot in if you’re willing to explore so we were able to capture the real beauty of the city to those who open their eyes. The river washing scene, for example, was out towards Kingston, away from the tidal pull of the Thames."
Hopkins adds: “I’ve often dreamed of adopting Richard’s lifestyle but have never got close — I need my camera, editing suite and all the associated technology far too much.”
This film was made as part of England Your England, a series of shorts that presents diverse personal stories. Hopkins is now working on a follow-up about a man who has opened the first zero waste restaurant in the UK and he is working on his first feature documentary. He also co-runs The Progress Film Company.
To see other London Shorts click here.