all the creator's of "17 & Under", we would like to thank you for your
interest in our project. "17 & Under" is a very intense, character driven, script that
consequently relies on great performances from the actors.
about a 17 year-old gang member who is convicted and sentenced to live with a family that
has lost their son to gang violence.
"17 & Under" is the offspring of authentic, independent filmmakers shooting a film because
of it's message. You won't find a Hollywood ending in the script, lavish sets, or a big
budget. However, what you will find is an opportunity to share in a project that explores
humanity and the consequences of violent crime. Thank you for your interest!
Greg Morgan - Director
HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR COPY OF 17 & UNDER ON AMAZON.COM
The juvenile justice
system has always been an inflaming issue for the public, courts and police. In a day
where public outcry for more stringent laws has reached an all time high, the film 17 & Under could not be more timely. The filmmakers, Gregory William Morgan and Jeanne
Flynn-Morgan, developed the story idea by watching countless news stories featuring gang
killings with little attention paid to the family left behind. "Two weeks after the
killing, the story is forgotten by the press, but the suffering family won't ever
forget," says Jeanne, who served as the film's art director as well as sharing credit
with Greg on writing and producing. "So many films focus on the violence in the hood
or barrio. We wanted to focus on the aftermath of the violence and the juvenile justice
system in general." Jeanne's own personal experience of losing a brother helped
greatly in her efforts to portray grief as both raw and real in a family that has lost a
With violent crime
from juvenile offenders crowding an already bursting court system, many people are looking
for an alternative method of punishment/reform for youth. Prison, military style boot
camps, visits with hardened adult prisoners are all methods being tried today and all are
addressed in 17. Views on how to reform the juvenile system vary as much as
the methods. "I wanted the film to show all sides of the issue through each character
and let the viewer decide," says Greg. Whether the imaginary youth program depicted
in the film would work is another question. "You never know, maybe some politician
will see this film and say, 'Hey, this type of program may work.' If that happens, I want
credit for the new law."
horrified by the stories that these were kids that were killing," adds Jeanne.
"I think if these kids lived with a family and saw first hand how their violence
destroys people, maybe they would think twice before pulling the trigger. I'm sure they
wouldn't want their own family to go through that pain. A government program like this
could possibly raise the consciousness of kids and give them some insight into the
consequences of taking a life."
With a thought
provoking performance by Lee White, who plays Juan's program counselor, James Johnson,
many issues from the juvenile counselor's viewpoint are described. "These guys deal
with problems all day long," says Greg. "I wanted to make the character of James
Johnson cynical, to show a counselor's feeling of futility in an ever growing
17 & Under is
not without controversy. Without giving away the ending, it is important to convey the
reasoning behind the unexpected turn of events. "As unsettling as the end may seem to
some, the message we wanted to portray was crucial," adds Greg. "These kids may
act like monsters, but somewhere inside they are human beings and if they could somehow
feel the pain and loss of a victim's family, for some, it just may be too much a cross to
bear. The film provided a vehicle that allowed the filmmakers to express their concern and
frustration with escalating violent crime.
Film Market, New York City, New York - September 20th, 1997
International Film Festival, Atlanta, Georgia - November 1 - 12, 1997
Three Rivers Film
Festival, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 6 - 20, 1997
International Film Festival, December 1 - 15, Egypt
30th Parallel Film
Festival, Austin - March 13-18
Film Fest New Haven, Connecticut, - April 3 - 5, 1998 - Winner - 2nd Place Audience
Award & Honorable Mention Jury Award!!!!!
International Independent Film & Video Festival, New York City, April 22 - May 5, 1998
Festival - May 1 - 3, 1998 - WINNER GRAND PRIZE!!!
FILM FESTIVAL - May 14 - 15, 1998
CineFestival, San Antonio, TX - June 11, 1998
Hermosa Beach Film
Festival, Hermosa Beach, CA - . Audience Award Winner !!!!!
Of Film - September 26, 1998
learns a victimized family's pain forcing him to face the consequences of his crimes.
As a result of jail
overcrowding, a new crime law, Proposition 432, is passed. The new law combines physical
incarceration with psychological rehabilitation for youth seventeen and under, hence the
title of the film. The youth serve some time in prison, then are sent off to military
style boot camp for one year. In their last six months, they live with a "Bereavement
Family," a family of a victim of violent crime that volunteers to host a young
"Smiley" Sanchez, a seventeen year old gang member from East Los Angeles is in
the Proposition 432 program. After serving his time in prison and boot camp, he is
assigned to live with the Romero's. Tom and Maria Romero are both in their forties, with a
daughter, Kate, who is sixteen. The Romero's lost their teenage son, David, to a random
act of gang violence. He was shot. Tom Romero, a successful businessman, did not want to
volunteer for the Proposition 432 bereavement program, but his wife insisted. Maria Romero
volunteered her family for the 432 program as she thought it would help her family recover
from the loss of their son and brother, David. Kate, having witnessed her brother's brutal
slaying, is greatly disturbed by it and struggles to find comfort in her parents, but the
loss proves too great for them and in desperation Kate turns to Juan. Juan's pride in his
culture and heritage is attractive to Kate and their friendship grows into a strong
relationship. Kate, however, has underlying motives.
Each of the three
family members suffers David's loss alone and in different ways, and their pain grows as
the film develops. Juan begins to see the abnormalities and pain the family suffers from
the loss of David which makes him realize the enormity of his own crime. With Kate's help
and the encouragement of Juan's brother, Ernesto, Juan decides to escape the gang and get
his high school GED. James Johnson, Juan's program counselor, notices his desire to
succeed and is pleased. However, his friend, Chuy, informs him that he is wanted by the
rival gang in Juan's old neighborhood for something he did not do.
While living with
the Romero's, Juan begins to have nightmares about his crimes as a gang member. The
nightmares become more and more frequent as redoubles his efforts to change his life for
the better. Juan's good grades, Kate's help, Ernesto's encouragement and Juan's growing
guilt convince him to try harder, get out of the gang, and begin a new life. When his
family is nearly shot during a drive-by shooting intended for him, Juan's guilt grows. His
gang wants him to retaliate but, when he refuses, they decide to kill a rival gang member
in his name.
On Juan's last night
with the Romero's, Kate and Juan make love. Kate informs Juan that she wants to have his
child so that they can re-create both David and the person Juan had killed. In Kate's
deluded mind, this will solve all the family's problems. Overhearing the two talking in
the bedroom, Tom bursts and sticks a gun in Juan's face, threatening to kill him. Tom
realizes through hearing Kate's ranting that she has been mentally deranged by her
brother's death. He forgets his anger toward Juan and turns to comfort his daughter.
Devastated, Juan runs from the house and flees in a frenzy toward his old neighborhood. He
sees by the graffiti on the wall that his gang has killed a rival gang member in his
"honor" and named him as the killer. He runs into rival territory, riddled with
a guilty conscious. When he is confronted by rival gang members, he raises his arm, closes
his eyes, and is shot, committing suicide in a cruciform representation of redemption for
his crimes. Juan finally frees himself of the pain he has learned to feel from others.
MAKING THE FILM