The former owner of a downtown gymnasium turns to the cinema; will debut at the Art Theater on December 9 • the Hi-lo

In January 2020, she and her 70-year-old mother, Francesca, were hit by a car while walking through the city center, and her knee still hurts.

A few months after the crash, COVID-19 arrived in the United States, something that would eventually claim its Pine Avenue gym, Groundwork Fitness. She was forced to shut it down for good – another of the economic victims of the pandemic.

Ferraro, a longtime homeless activist who was pushed into this job after her homeless father died 16 years ago, said she had to sell her gym equipment to pay for her own bills and avoid ending up on the street.

“I thought, ‘the homeless lawyer becomes homeless, like her dad, cool,’” Ferraro said. “How are we going to navigate in this area? “

The answer came in February when Ferraro decided she was going to tap into her acting years in college and write and produce her first film, “Lennon,” which she directed and starred. It is now scheduled to premiere at the Art Theater on December 9.

“I’m nervous as hell,” Ferraro said. “I have continuous butterflies in my stomach. I have never done anything like this.

A movie poster for “Lennon”. The short will debut at the Long Beach Art Theater on December 9.

Prior to filming “Lennon,” Ferraro already knew the stories of some of the town’s most vulnerable people due to his advocacy work with Keep LBC Fit, a non-profit organization that gives people socks that are printed on. resources for the homeless. But the movie gave her a new way to share this story with others. She started writing the screenplay in February 2021 and in June she was filming.

She said that ‘Lennon’, a 26-minute short, aims to dispel some of the myths that surround homeless people while trying to spark conversation by showing what life is like through their eyes.

“Really, it’s about compassion,” Ferraro said. “I really want, with this short film, to ignite the part of people’s hearts that I think is wearing out.”

Getting into the film industry was a challenge given that she had no experience since her days at Pasadena City College where she obtained an Associate’s Degree in Theater Arts.

But Ferraro said her background as a small business owner gave her both the stamina to be a producer and a network of connections to tap into for things like a camera and a location.

Much of the film was shot inside Rose Park Roasters on Fourth Street, one of her favorite haunts that is also owned by a friend who voluntarily closed the interior for three days in June so she could film “Lennon”.

The process of filming the December premiere at the Art Theater was made possible by a community network that she has developed as a gym owner over the past eight years, she said.

Ferraro said she plans to make more films and is considering internships and other opportunities to hone her skills as a writer and producer. Her future films will likely continue to focus on marginalized communities who need their stories told, she said.

As for “Lennon,” Ferraro said she hoped this could serve as a starting point to develop the kind of community needed to start ending the homelessness crisis that has plagued the region.

“I hope he pushes buttons,” Ferraro said. “I want you to go away thinking about this and come home and have conversations about it.”

Lennon is set to debut at the Art Theater on December 9 at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. Proof of vaccination and wearing a mask will be required. A question-and-answer session will follow the screening. Tickets can be purchased here for $ 10.

The art theater is located at 2025 E. Fourth St.

The art theater hopes that changes and renovations remind everyone: “We are still here”

First fitness park in the United States opens at Groundwork Fitness in downtown Long Beach

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About Selena J. Killeen

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