17 & Under

 

17 & Under Poster

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From 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.

It is 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!

Sincerely,

Greg Morgan - Director

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR COPY OF 17 & UNDER ON AMAZON.COM

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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

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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 loved one.

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."

"We were 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 problem."

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.

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Festival Circuit

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Independent Feature Film Market, New York City, New York - September 20th, 1997

Peachtree International Film Festival, Atlanta, Georgia - November 1 - 12, 1997

Three Rivers Film Festival, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 6 - 20, 1997

The Cairo 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!!!!!

New York International Independent Film & Video Festival, New York City, April 22 - May 5, 1998

Saguaro Film Festival - May 1 - 3, 1998 - WINNER GRAND PRIZE!!!

CANNES INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL  - May 14 - 15, 1998

San Antonio CineFestival, San Antonio, TX - June 11, 1998

Hermosa Beach Film Festival, Hermosa Beach, CA - .  Audience Award Winner !!!!!

Sacramento Festival Of Film - September 26, 1998

FIND US AT HOLLYWOOD VIDEO AND BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO STORES!

SYNOPSIS

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Gang member 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 criminal.

Juan "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.

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MAKING THE FILM

FILMMAKERS BIOGRAPHY