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Homeless project fuses artistic talents
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Filmmaker Nick Brengle, left, and illustrator Jake Troyli.
PINELLAS PARK – Two Pinellas Park High School grads have combined their artistic talents to collaborate on a project fusing film and pen-and-ink illustrations to tell the stories of 12 local homeless individuals.

“We’re showcasing the idea that these broken lives are still beautiful,” said illustrator Jake Troyli. “It’s all about turning these broken lives into art.”

“Broken Lives Illustrated” recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $4,000 for the project. Troyli and filmmaker Nick Brengle are still accepting donations for the project.

“At this point, anything beyond that initial $4,000 will go directly to the homeless,” Brengle said.

The pair is working with Hannah’s Homeless, a nonprofit group that focuses on the local homeless population, providing food, clothing, blankets and other items.

To make the film, the pair will explore downtown St. Petersburg to meet homeless individuals to feature. Brengle will film interviews with the individual, recording their story, while Troyli takes photographs. Later, Brengle will film Troyli drawing the homeless they meet based on the photos he takes. The documentary will feature footage of the subjects as well as a time lapse of Troyli sketching them.

Brengle (Class of 2005) and Troyli (Class of 2008) met at PPHS. Troyli was a basketball star and Brengle was the announcer for all of the team’s games.

Initially, they lost touch after graduation. Brengle studied writing at St. Petersburg College, and Troyli went on to play basketball at Presbyterian College, then Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, and majored in fine arts.

“People are always so surprised when I tell them that,” Troyli said.

Brengle hasn’t formally studied filmmaking, but got his first camera in middle school, making short films with friends, and directed the morning announcements during high school.

“That’s where I learned more technical things, editing,” he said. “When it came to camera work, I always just picked it right up. I see everything before we actually film it.”

Troyli returned home after college and the pair reconnected.

“I posted something on Facebook about having an artistic block,” he said. “A few hours later I ran into Nick at the mall and he said, ‘So you’re having a block?’”

Until that moment, they didn’t realize that the arts were a shared passion.

Then in August, Troyli invited Brengle to his August art exhibit opening at Studio@620 in St. Petersburg. They got to talking about how they should collaborate on a project. They also saw the homeless who were sleeping on the street near the venue and got inspired.

The pair will start filming this month and hopes to show the documentary at Studio@620 in January. Troyli’s illustrations will be on display while the film is shown.

For more information about the project, visit To donate to the cause, email or
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