Community First, A Home for the Homeless

In the world of documentary filmmaking, few individuals possess the same level of dedication and passion as Layton Blaylock. A multifaceted artist, he’s not just a filmmaker, but a director, director of photography, and one of the founding partners of Inferno Films. With a remarkable career spanning four decades, Layton Blaylock’s work has touched upon various aspects of human life, but it’s his commitment to shedding light on the issue of homelessness that has truly set him apart.

Layton’s journey into the world of documentary filmmaking has been nothing short of extraordinary. Over the years, he has been involved in a diverse array of projects, including documentaries, feature films, TV shows, and informational films. However, it’s his documentaries, “Art From the Streets” and “Community First, A Home for the Homeless,” that have garnered him recognition and acclaim.

Art From the Streets

“Art From the Streets” made its mark by being accepted at over 30 film festivals around the world and winning an impressive 10 awards, including 5 for Best Documentary. This powerful film showcased the incredible talents of homeless artists and brought their stories to the forefront. It was a testament to Layton’s ability to capture the raw essence of human experiences and translate them into compelling narratives.


Aerial  view of Community First Village  in Austin


  • 100 RV/Park homes
  • 130 Micro-homes
  • Community Cinema
  • Community Inn
  • Community Market
  • Genesis Gardens Organic Farm
  • Walking Trails
The out door theater, the film is being watched

The Community Cinema & Amphitheater

The outdoor amphitheater serves as a unique gathering spot where the worlds of film, family, and fun converge in Austin’s most captivating outdoor setting. Tucked amidst the scenic landscape of Community First! Village, this open-air cinema and amphitheater provides ample space for crowds to come together and enjoy a film screening or host special events beneath the starlit sky.  This photo was taken at the event. 

“Community First, A Home for the Homeless” continued in the same vein, premiering at SXSW in 2019 and making its PBS debut in 2021. The film has since aired over 3500 times on PBS stations across the United States, reaching a wide audience and sparking conversations about innovative solutions to homelessness. Through these documentaries, Layton Blaylock has not only raised awareness but also fostered empathy and understanding for those experiencing homelessness.

Sun set at Community First Village with buildings in the far back

Years After the Documentary Was First Released

Even years after the release of “Community First,” Layton remains committed to the cause. He continues to promote the film at conventions and events related to homelessness. When asked about the impact of the film, he emphasizes the role it played in putting Community First Village on the map. He sees Community First Village as an innovative and successful model for transforming the lives of chronically homeless individuals and is happy to see other communities in the US and Canada replicating this model.

Layton’s connection with Community First Village remains strong, though he clarifies that he’s not directly involved with the organization. Instead, he actively promotes their transformative approach to homelessness. As for a follow-up to his documentary, despite the developments and growth at Community First Village since the film’s release, Blaylock currently has no plans for a sequel. However, his dedication to the cause remains unwavering.

Future Projects? 

When asked about his future projects, Blaylock admits he’s not currently working on another documentary. The challenge of funding, he explains, is a significant hurdle for documentary filmmakers. To finance “Community First,” Blaylock and his team turned to Kickstarter and received generous contributions from friends within the film community. It’s a testament to the passion and commitment of filmmakers like Layton Blaylock who use their craft to tell stories that matter, even in the face of financial obstacles.

Layton’s  remarkable career in filmmaking has left an indelible mark on the world of documentary cinema. Through his work, he has not only entertained and informed audiences but has also ignited conversations and inspired change. As long as there are stories to be told and causes to champion, Layton Blaylock’s camera will continue to capture the essence of the human experience and shed light on important social issues, leaving an enduring legacy in the world of documentary filmmaking.

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In 2019, I had the privilege of meeting Layton. During our encounter, he extended a warm invitation to Austin Documentary Fans, (also known as Reel Doc Fans), to participate in the first screening of “Community First, A Home for the Homeless.” This event was made an official Meet-Up gathering.

Prior to the screening, several members went on a tour of the village. The experience was nothing short of awe-inspiring, and as one person put it “gave me a reason to have hope for humanity.”  Each tiny home was uniquely designed with the resident’s in mind. As we walked through the grounds of Community First Village, it quickly became apparent that we were bearing witness to history in the making—a groundbreaking and innovative project that would be an example to the world what a homeless community should look like.

Never before had I encountered a place quite like this—a vibrant and thriving community for those who had once been chronically homeless. It defied all expectations. The grounds were not only neatly organized, but also exquisitely beautiful, challenging preconceived notions and stereotypes. Cara Harpole