By supporting this project, you are investing in a film that centers the stories of justice-involved children, survivors of crime, and family members. Watch this video to learn why that's important, why we're making this film, and how you can play a role.
In Partnership With
Southern Documentary Fund
Inclusion StatementAll speakers in our film have been directly impacted by the justice system as justice-involved youth, survivors/victims, and family members. Our directors, producer, and DP are all female, and we've committed to hiring local and diverse for all crew. Our core filmmaking team is 70% people of color.
About The Project
Five young people across the country consider how their involvement with the justice system has shaped their lives. We meet each of them via intimate, eye-direct interviews. We learn about their childhoods through personal stories and layered animations. Their shared experiences underscore the fundamental elements of every juvenile justice system across the country, including persistent racial disparities, criminalized poverty, and trauma. Beyond these key interviews, we meet them via verite footage in the here and now of their daily lives. All are young people between the ages of 18-25 who are living their lives and giving back to their communities.
Instead of following our main characters over a period of time during which their interwoven narratives progress chronologically, we made a structural decision to share their stories in sequential silos. The story silos provide depth and a personal touchstone for audiences. Each INDIVIDUAL narrative answers the questions: how did I get into the system, what happened to me while I was there, how did that experience impact where am I now, and what changes could have improved my outcomes?
Weaving these character silos together, expert voices of youth advocates and professionals (who all have lived experience with the system as youthful offenders, victims, or family members) will guide us on our journey through an overarching SYSTEM narrative, which answers the questions: what are the on-ramps into the system, where are youth diverted, how do they get out and in what condition, and ultimately, what are states doing to change their systems? Between each story silo, we learn about the key drivers of change: brain science, constitutional rights, and smart on crime economics.
Pictured at top (interview stills): JUVENILE film participants Brittany and Michael. Pictured above in behind-the-scenes production photos by Marcus Campbell: (left) expert interviewee Dr. Kirk James, producer/director Joann Selvidge, film participant Romeo, and (right) NYC production assistants Romeo, Ateya and Maria from The New School's Institute for Transformative Mentoring.
All of the funds raised during this crowdfunding campaign will cover planning and production expenses related to filming three key interviews with our featured youth participants. If we exceed our fundraising goal, additional revenues will be applied to capturing verite footage with these main characters in their home communities. Please see our "wish list" for more details about how we will spend the money we raise via Seed & Spark.
All graphic imagery pictured above is taken from our trailer's animations.
CREDITS: The pitch video features the voices of art director Matthew Thomas and producer/director Joann Selvidge, a cameo from producer/director/director of photography Sarah Fleming, footage shot by Sarah Fleming and Christopher Reyes, art direction by Matthew Thomas, editing and animation by Christopher Reyes, and music by Negro Terror. The trailer has the same crew and music credits, with additional footage shot by Gregory Gray and Kevin Brooks, and gaffer/audio Gregory Gray, featuring the voices of Michael Dammerich, Robert, Brittany Myers, Dr. Altha Stewart, Marsha Levick, and Barbara Deans.
You can watch our trailer below.
Stay connected and help us spread the word.
Follow us on Social Media!
Visit our website!
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
JUVENILE's Key Collaborators
Sarah Fleming (Co-Director, Producer, Director of Photography)
Joann Self Selvidge (Co-Director, Producer, Writer)
Yalonda M. James (Producer, Photographer)
Matthew Thomas (Art Director)
Christopher Reyes (Editor, Animator)
Five Mualimm-ak (Consultant)
Hernan Carvente (Advisor)
Kempis "Ghani" Songster (Advisor)
Fleming is an award-winning filmmaker with 15+ years of experience who has served as producer, director, director of photography, and assistant director on more than 70 films, music videos, and experimental pieces. Her company Cat and Fish specializes in storytelling through film, art, and technology. Award-winning films include (as producer and cinematographer) feature documentary GOOD GRIEF (2017), and (as director) shorts VIOLA (2015), CARBIKE (2014), and TRAINING WHEELS (2011). She is recipient of “The Indie Award” (Indie Memphis, 2016) for her contribution to independent filmmaking in Memphis. She is co-founder of Memphis Women in Film, filmmakers who advocate for greater representation of women and girls in filmmaking roles, and Team Electron, a collective of music video directors based in New York, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Chicago. JUVENILE will be her first feature as director.
Selvidge has produced, directed, and edited award-winning films, including feature documentary SEE THE KEEPERS (2016), a portrait of the work and personality of zookeepers (currently featured in Reel South: Season 3 on PBS) and short docs VIOLA (2015) and VOICES OF JERICHO (2007). She is a co-founder of Memphis Women in Film, and she has served on jury and selection committees for Nashville Film Festival and Indie Memphis Film Festival. In 2017, she conceived and co-produced Inaugurate the Resistance, a multi-media art installation of photographs, community-sourced protest signs, and a tunnel of footage and sound from the Women’s Marches in Washington, DC and Memphis. Selvidge owns True Story Pictures (est. 2004) and Sustain/ability Consulting (est. 2001), which provides resource development and impact strategy for nonprofits. She has secured more than $9.4 million in funding for her clients’ nonprofit work and her own documentary projects.
James is an award-winning photojournalist and video producer with 15+ years of experience who currently serves as a staff photographer at the San Francisco Chronicle. From 2013-2018, her work at Memphis-based The Commercial Appeal focused on social justice issues and special projects for MLK50, the 2018 commemoration of the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Previously, she worked for The Charlotte Observer where she was a 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her project 'Sold a Nightmare,' which earned a second place Gold Medal for Public Service. Her work has been published in The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, MSNBC, Fusion, Education Week, St. Petersburg Times, The State, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Post & Courier, South Carolina: 24/7, and The Bridge Builder's and Charleston's Grand New Span. She has also worked on assignment for the Associated Press and on the FOX drama Sleepy Hollow. Her 2017 short doc "The BLM (Black Lives Matter) Bridge Protest: One Year Later" is currently on the film festival circuit, with screenings at Indie Memphis, Nashville, Indie Grits, and BendFilm.
Thomas was recently recognized on the Huffington Post Arts & Culture list, “Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know.” A native of Memphis and graduate of the Maryland Institute, College of Art, he is a prolific creative artist. His films and paintings have been exhibited in Tokyo, Italy, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and Memphis. His graphic novel LOVE, SEX & DRUNK-TEXT was recognized by Huffington Post and the Aspire Network. His work has been sponsored by HTC, the Jerome Foundation, 911 Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Canon Inc. and Red Bull, and can be seen on Fox Network’s EMPIRE, THE EXORCIST, and the Aspire Network.
Reyes has produced, directed, shot, and edited hundreds of videos over his 25+ year career as a creative - from short films, music videos, and commercials to feature documentaries and complex site-specific installations. Described as “magical,” Reyes’ experiential artwork has been exhibited in locations throughout Downtown Memphis, as well as St. Jude’s Art of Science, Crosstown Arts, and the Mississippi Light Festival. His client work includes creative media and solutions for ArtsMemphis, Ballet Memphis, UrbanArt, Downtown Memphis Commission, BBDO, Fedex, Texaco Racing, Shell Chemicals, International Paper, Crayola, Havoline, Viking Range, CMI, CMG, Forefront Records, Sparo Records, Ardent Studios, Phillips Interactive, Lucas Arts, Polygram, EMI, CMG, and Acclaim Entertainment. In addition to his creative work, Reyes has dedicated himself to the self-defense martial art Kajukenbo as a 3rd generation Hawaiian practitioner and teacher.
Ever since his return to society, Mualimm-ak has worked against mass incarceration, consulting on series, films, and documentaries that expose the conditions of confinement for millions of people as well as the collateral consequences of incarceration for hundreds of millions of Americans today. He served as producer on the television series THE wHOLE, worked closely with Kristi Jacobson to secure facility access for her feature documentary SOLITARY, consulted on segments of TIME: THE KALIEF BROWDER STORY and AMERICA DIVIDED, and appeared as himself in Bill Moyers’ RIKERS, the short film GOING HOME, and Democracy Now! episodes. Through his relationships with other formerly incarcerated individuals and grassroots organizations across the country, he has developed effective awareness campaigns for films about criminal justice issues to connect with audiences. Mualimm-ak was part of the community outreach and organizing team that led to HERMAN’S HOUSE (POV) winning an Emmy in 2014. Mualimm-ak founded the consulting group Incarcerated Nation Corp to bring the voices of those directly impacted into the public view. Over the past seven years, he has achieved national attention as a juvenile justice advocate, and he currently serves as the Youth Program Facilitator for the Institute for Transformative Mentoring at The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs.
Carvente manages the Youth First Youth Leaders Network, which provides young emerging leaders with the training and tools to lead the fight against youth incarceration. Previously, he served as a Program Analyst for the Center on Youth Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice. He has served on state-appointed boards including the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and the Citizens Policy and Complaint Review Council, as National Youth Chair for the National Youth Committee of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, and as an advisor to the National Academies of Science and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Utilizing his personal experience, Carvente trains policymakers, researchers, students, and professionals in probation, child welfare, juvenile justice and corrections on ending youth incarceration and moving toward more holistic, community-based, trauma-informed programs for young people. He was awarded the “Spirit of Youth Award” by Coalition for Juvenile Justice and the “Next Generation Champion for Change” award by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and he is a 2018 Just Leadership USA Fellow. He is a first-generation Mexican-American and the first male in his family to graduate from college, earning a degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College. In his Advisor role on JUVENILE, Carvente will provide guidance and feedback to the directors as we shape the story, in particular, regarding current issues facing youth today (he is 26 years old), connecting us with youth leaders to serve as experts in the film, and keeping us honest in our approach to sharing different points of view. He has also participated in an expert interview for the film.
Songster co-founded Ubuntu Philadelphia, a forum on healing and restoring community, which brings together crime victims, formerly incarcerated juvenile lifers, and community members to participate in an intentional, public reconciliation process. Originally from Brooklyn, Kempis was a gifted student who set off for Philadelphia as a 15-year-old ninth grader with a couple of childhood friends with plans to make money and find respect. Their plans went terribly wrong, and within months he and a friend were facing a murder charge. He was sentenced to life without parole for the crime. After 30 years of incarceration, he was resentenced and released in December 2017, one of many juvenile lifers that have returned to society in the state of Pennsylvania since the U. S. Supreme Court decided the Montgomery v. Louisiana ruling, which determined that the unconstitutionality of mandatory juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences could be applied retroactively to JLWOP sentences given before 2010.