DOVER -- A web series that documents an aging population struggling with hunger will be shown this weekend at the Independent Television and Film Festival.
Its director has a background in media, which had assisted him with producing "Hungry in the West End."
"There's a lot of ways that hungry seniors can get food but it all kind of changes if you're isolated, have mobility issues or disabled," said former reporter and videographer John Martin who shot the series that will appear at the ITVFest this weekend. "It's really tough out there."
The 8th Annual ITVFest began Sept. 26 and runs through Sept. 28. Tents and stages are set up around Dover and Wilmington. Schedules for specific showings and performances are available at ITVFest.com.
"ITVFest is a real honor because this is a competition that has only just recently opened to web-based series," said Martin. "This is a festival that recognizes that crossover and I think that I'm very lucky to be in the field of some really good looking projects in the documentary category."
One of the recent missions of the AARP Foundation has been to combat hunger nationwide. Martin received a grant from the organization to direct and produce a web series that would show how the elderly are affected by hunger in a section of Rhode Island known for being the poor side of town.
According to its website, the AARP Foundation "helps struggling seniors with four issues: housing, hunger, income and isolation."
Currently the series has eight parts to it and focuses on the problem of senior isolation and hunger. Scenes focus on Meals on Wheels, senior centers and the volunteers that assist with such work.
"Hunger in the West End" will appear at the festival on Friday at 3:10 p.m. at the Inn at the Sawmill Farm.
Martin and his crew wanted to tell the story through real people.
One of the men who agreed to be part of the series is Donald Lincoln. He drives for Meals For Wheels and oftentimes travels through certain areas that other drivers won't.
"He's an inspiration. The people (we talked to) convinced me the solution to this problem is person to person. It won't all be fixed by government," said Martin. "This is about the community reaching out to people and raising awareness. People need to take this into their own hands."
Martin wrote for newspapers for a number of years then he was in broadcasting for 16 years. For this series, he has won a number of awards, such as the Los Angeles Web Series Festival. The series has also been included in honorable mentions.
A freelance writer assisted with writing a script then a reporter came along to interview people for "Hunger in the West End," which Martin shot, edited and narrated. It took about 15 months to complete.
He told the Reformer that the ITVFest could be a great thing for the region, citing the mainstream coverage it received when the festival was back in Los Angeles.
"Some of the web series have been picked up," said Martin. "I think we're in a window of less than a decade, where those lines are continuing to blur. There will be a way to monetize these projects... The creative talent is there and the technology is there. People are creating stuff that looks really good cinematically."
He cited the use of mobile devices as a good medium for these new projects.
"A generation of consumers is aging into place, where the production values are not necessarily the driving factor. Storytelling and really using the medium well is more attractive to younger viewers than it was to their parents. They are watching so much on mobile devices. It compresses everything and it really looks good."
To watch parts of "Hungry in the West End," visit AARP.org/hungry.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.