: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production


TOTAL SUN is a feature documentary that takes you on a spiritual journey deep into the heart of Venice Beach's homeless community. With unparalleled access to a group of talented artists struggling to survive on the streets, this film offers a rare and intimate glimpse into their lives and the challenges they face every day.


Over the course of five years - 2018 to 2023, TOTAL SUN follows the journey of a group of artists who came to Venice Beach in search of their version of the American Dream - Gabriel a talented singer and dancer, looking to break free from the “matrix” while struggling with his burgeoning adulthood, Karma a transgender fashionista from Egypt in search of love and liberty and Roy a 65-yr old vagabond martial artist, tired of the streets in search of students, land and self sufficiency. 


I’ve been filming street subcultures all over the world for the past two decades. My work focuses primarily on ‘Youth vs Society’, which stems from growing up in London in the late 90’s. Early in my career I produced and directed for MTV, BBC and VICE, often shooting alone or in small crews immersed in UK’s underground music and art subcultures; drum and bass, grime, pirate radio and street art. I brought those influences with me into music videos and commercials, and was fortunate enough to collaborate with global artists and brands such as MIA, Pharrell Williams. Nike and Adidas.

In 2013, I moved to Venice Beach and instantly fell in love with its energy. A mythical world of drifters, drug addicts, runaways and regulators. The underbelly of one of the most famous tourists destinations in the world and a bohemia for artists on the fringe of society. To me, its was the perfect setting for a low-budget film. From 2013-2018, I documented Venice’s eclectic community with still photography and audio interviews. I formed close relationships with some young people living on the boardwalk and began writing a scripted feature based on their lives. Early imaginings of the film were seen through the lens of Larry Clarks “Kids” and Terrance Malik’s “Badlands”. A portrait of young people in extreme situations, truly capturing the essence of being young and disillusioned.

Through the process of writing the screenplay, I decided to film on the boardwalk for the first time, something I could watch back and reference while writing. I borrowed a camera and gave myself 3 days to shoot freely. One evening I saw a young man dancing under the street lights, he was there for hours, like a boxer training through the night. Even from afar, I admired his passion and love for dancing. He approached me soon after and asked if I’d help him shoot a music video. I agreed and we shot, edited and uploaded the video to YouTube within a day.  Gabriel and I became close friends, and I set aside the screenplay and committed to following his artists rite of passage, living homeless on Venice Beach. Ultimately I was guided by my intuition. I never imagined my first feature film would be me alone with a camera, and didn’t have any interest in filming a documentary, but this just felt right and I was excited to collaborate more with Gabriel, Karma and the community on the boardwalk.



BENJAMIN NEWMAN - Producer / Director/ Editor

Benjamin Newman is an artist from North West London now living and working in Los Angeles, CA. Dedicated to storytelling, expressed through immersive installations, photography and filmmaking, Benjamin seeks to engage audiences through a lens of radical empathy, leading us to question dogmatic perspectives, outdated ideals and become present to the realities of lives lived by individuals and communities on the fringe of society.

Over the last 10 years Benjamin has collaborated with international artists such as Pharrell Williams and M.I.A and helmed global advertising campaigns for brands such as Nike, Adidas, Sony and BMW.

Along the way he has picked up many awards, including the BFI short film award for his Vimeo staff picked, “War School”, Best New Director at the UKMVAs, British Arrows for his work with retailer ASOS, and a gold CLIO and Cannes Lion for his stunning commercial “Fun 4 two” with Mercedes Benz.

Currently Ben is in post-production with his debut feature documentary “Total Sun”, developing a fictional narrative feature based on the life of Native American Veteran and Actor Stonehorse Lone Goeman and a docu-series on the art of mental health.


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