At Lulu, we’re all about helping authors find success and providing them with the means to reach more readers all over the globe. Sometimes success comes in ways they never expect. That was the case for professor William O’Connell, author of the book Homeless in Paradise, Communicating with the Bohemian Venice Beach, CA Subculture.
Actor Russell Brand (of Forgetting Sarah Marshall fame) is using the book for part of an upcoming feature film. O’Connell’s story is such a good one, we just had to share. You can read how this Lulu author went on to full-length feature consultant below.
Lulu Publishing provided me with the means to reach a worldwide audience. I knew I had a great story when I was writing the book. Spending five summers researching and exploring the homeless population provided me with the opportunity to meet a wide variety of homeless people on world famous Venice Beach. My book sparked attention from audiences around the world. Eventually, I found myself filming a made for television production called Voices in the Sand based on my book which is currently in production.
Ultimately, when I was contacted by actor Russell Brand’s associates they were looking for “off griders” in Southern California. People who would be able to educate the actor for a portion of his full-length feature film. A study “the cultural components of our era – the boom of celebrity culture and reality TV, the birth of the Internet and social networking, the growth in advertising and public relations, and the development of the “Self Help” and “Happiness” industries.”
Through the books accomplishment with Lulu, this success working with Russell Brand culminated into a match made in heaven between a Professor of Communication and an Actor.
What’s nice is that I receive recognition in a field that for the most part is ignored. While working on my book I met many homeless: A woman arrested 200 times, stuck in the vortex of self destruction, a decorated homeless Vietnam War Veteran struggling to find his existence, a man born to a fourteen-year-old mother who spent ten years in prison, an iconic artist, a spiritual educated man who calls himself “Chief” along with more bohemian colorful characters that attracted the movie industry. I am one of the few people in the country who has spent more than 2,000 hours with the homeless and in January, I went homeless myself with a complete stranger who became homeless after her own husband and more than twenty men gang raped her.
“We are honored to have Professor O’Connell’s expertise on this film,” commented Hattie Bowering. A producer for Russell Brand’s film, Bowering went on to comment.. “Through his involvement, we have been given access to a secret world that frankly should not be secret. The homeless are an integral part of our culture, not just in Venice Beach, but across America. While their journey is tragic in so many ways, a real sense of happiness and belonging that eludes so many people exists in the homeless community.”
Heading to Hollywood
While I am not intimidated being on a Hollywood set because I did my own production, working closely with Russell Brand was terrific. He is smart, innovative, and most important has the charisma which propels his enthusiasm for his work. I took a liking to him because he showed that he genuinely cared about the homeless, especially the younger homeless teens on Venice Beach. He took his work with me very seriously. I led him right into the underbelly of homelessness by bringing a select group of homeless from my Lulu Best-Seller to him for his film. Russell fearlessly held his own. What I loved is that Russell’s team had my book with them at all times when I worked with them in May 2010.
I am currently working as a Literary Contributor to a book called “Just a Boy from the Concrete Jungle” by Tony Gin. I convinced Mr. Gin to use Lulu as well. In addition I am partnering with my friend and three-time New York Times Best Selling Author and New York Yankees Executive Ray Negron whose movie Henry & Me will premiere at the college where I teach in October 2010, and I am on the Board for Pitch for a Cure an organization to cure juvenile diabetes.
Homeless in Paradise: Communicating with the Bohemian Venice Beach Subculture
Take an eye-opening, thought provoking journey into the underbelly of this heart wrenching lifestyle. Read fascinating stories by Professor O’Connell who captures the mood, spirit, and torturing thoughts of ten random homeless people ranging from people with mental illness to the consciousness of one of the most spiritual homeless, a Native American man who is an Astrophysicist with a PhD called “The Chief” who has been a civil rights activist through all of the movements against oppression, which transformed America in the 1960’s, homeless twenty-seven years. Relive the stories of broken war torn Vietnam Veterans, homeless transsexuals and the chilling cruelty of public ridicule they face to the story of a homeless woman who has appeared on the show COPS, arrested more than 180 times after a horrific tragedy defines her life to which she has never been able to recover. She leads the author into the center of underground homeless. Now a made for TV Documentary–called Voices in the Sand.
Professor O’Connell teaches in Southern California while working on numerous literary and film projects.