DETROIT (WWJ) – Perception is reality, and a west Michigan filmmaker created a video that proves this once again — chronicling the makeover of a Michigan homeless veteran, taking him from grizzled homeless guy to someone who looks like a “Mad Men” executive.
The nearly three-minute time-lapse video featuring Jim Wolf of Grand Rapids had received more than 10 million views on YouTube. It’s the brainchild of Rob Bliss.
The video, which has about 25,000 likes and 700 dislikes — shows stylist Anna Walt cutting, styling and coloring Wolf’s hair.
She also trims his beard as he occasionally winces and closes his eyes.
The video encourages people to donate to Degage Ministries … to help other homeless veterans. About $50,000 has been donated so far.
“It’s been enormously positive, a lot of people have shown their support,” Bliss said.
He added he came up with the idea after seeing time lapse videos of models getting transformed from regular women to superstars in a series of frames.
Bliss wanted to do the same thing, but in a more meaningful way, “a transformation that was truly real,” he said.
“Clearly, we hit a nerve with this one,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates 62,619 veterans are homeless on any given night. The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans says another 1.4 million are at risk of becoming homeless due to poverty, lack of support networks and substandard housing.
Nearly half the homeless vets served in Vietnam, two-thirds served for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone, according to the coalition.
The Ministries group found this veteran for Bliss’s video; he’s an Army and National Guard vet who has long struggled with alcoholism and homelessness, Bliss said.
Now, he’s active in AA, back in the fold of his family and moving toward a new living situation.
“He was very passionate about making this video,” Bliss said. “It definitely was an emotional experience for everyone involved … The hug (at the end) was pretty impactful.
“He gave me a big real hug, you could feel the emotion in it.”