A Hand to Hold

In the heart of Los Angeles, two members of an innovative Street Medicine team devote their livelihood to helping their unhoused patients receive care, hope, and connection.

Created at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, CA.

Production timeline Winter 2022 - Spring 2023

  • Reed Martin
  • Chirsten Vanderbilt Ellis
  • Christian Yosef
  • Matthew Beavers
  • Aidan Driscoll
  • Edouard Fan
  • François Boers
    Sound Recording, Design, and Mix
  • Tianyu (Stella) Shi
    Sound Recording, Design, and Mix
  • Martí Noguer
    Original Music Written and Performed By
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Social Change, Los Angeles, California, Homelessness
  • Runtime:
    22 minutes 52 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 5, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    55,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - University of Southern California
Director Biography - Reed Martin

Reed Martin is a filmmaker focused on crafting inspiring stories to communicate ideas, elicit emotions, and challenge perspectives. Born and raised in Carlsbad, California Reed was fond of all things sports-related and spent most of his time on a soccer field, basketball court, or in the ocean. It wasn’t until late elementary school that Reed stumbled across iMovie and tasked himself with crafting a short video to recap his family's recent vacation. He was entranced and kept creating stories however he could. He made whimsical stop-motion films with the help of his younger sister, he convinced teachers to let him create videos in place of essays, and he kept documenting family vacations to preserve memories of the trips. Gradually as he became more aware of his passion for storytelling he pursued the world of filmmaking.

Despite his love for sports – including soccer and basketball Reed decided to forgo any aspirations he had of playing in college and beyond as he decided to join his high school’s prestigious after-school cinema conservatory program. During his three years in this program, he went on to be recognized as an award-winning director for both documentary and narrative films. In his sophomore year, he directed two films, Change is in the Water (2016) and Bee Conscious (2017) the films were the first student films ever to be screened in an IMAX theater and made in conjunction with the IMAX Big Picture In Focus program.

In his junior year, Reed was awarded the National YoungArts Cinematic Arts Merit Award for his portfolio of work. In his senior year, Reed directed a short documentary, Ascent (2019) which went on to win dozens of awards and was screened at the San Diego International Film Festival later that year.

Encouraged by the creative fulfillment filmmaking gave Reed during high school, Reed applied to film schools across the nation and was accepted to the University of Southern California’s world-renowned School of Cinematic Arts as a Film & TV Production student. Since attending USC, Reed has worked on various projects including commercial spec projects, documentaries, and narrative films both within and outside of class. In his Junior year at USC, Reed became one of the youngest students selected by USC’s illustrious documentary faculty to direct a film for USC’s capstone documentary class. The film was completed in early May 2023 and is now being submitted to festivals across the country. Alongside his personal projects, Reed has interned at various production companies including Shadow Lion, Stept Studio, and Thunder Road Pictures. Upon his graduation, Reed aspires to apply his skills to as a documentary and commercial director.

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Director Statement

It was August 2019 and I had just moved into my freshman-year dorm at USC. Excited by the prospect of starting college, I was overwhelmed by the seemingly endless opportunities to join clubs, organizations, and other social groups. I sat in my half-assembled room and checked my email to give myself a break from the social pandemonium.

An article in USC’s weekly campus newsletter caught my eye. The article detailed the operation of USC’s Street Medicine teams, a newly founded organization that provided medical care to unhoused patients. I was struck by the level of connection described in the article between the patients and doctors. I bookmarked the article and vowed to return to it one day in hopes of creating a short documentary film on the topic.

In October 2022, I followed up on that vow I took three years earlier as I begin filming with the Street Medicine team–thus the production of "A Hand to Hold" began. The film explores the concept of human connection through the lens of USC's Street Medicine team, a group of compassionate individuals working tirelessly to help the unhoused population in Los Angeles.

As I delved into the world of USC's Street Medicine teams, I was struck by their unique approach to patient care. Rather than simply treating medical issues, they sought to form deep connections with their patients, becoming pillars of support and sources of friendship in a world where those things are often in short supply. Through their interactions, I saw firsthand the power of empathy and the incredible impact that it can have on people's lives.

My goal with "A Hand to Hold" was not simply to shine a light on the housing crisis in Los Angeles, but to showcase the incredible humanity and compassion of the Street Medicine team and the patients they serve. I hoped to create a film that would inspire viewers to approach their own lives with greater empathy, to see the world through the eyes of others, and to recognize the power of even the smallest acts of kindness.

Through the stories of individuals like Jack and Gilbert, as well as the team of medical professionals who work alongside them, "A Hand to Hold" offers a powerful reminder that we all have the ability to make a difference in the world. It is up to us to decide whether we will let the challenges of life defeat us or use them to become the best versions of ourselves. I hope that this film will encourage viewers to choose the latter, to embrace empathy and compassion, and to do their part in making the world a better place.