Memphis, Tennessee | Film Feature


Joann Selvidge

1 Campaigns | Tennessee, United States

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This campaign raised $41,244 for production, post-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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Our film explores youth experiences in the justice system and how people with lived experience are working to transform that system. These lessons have never been more relevant than now, during this season of racial reckoning and calls for systemic change. You can help us amplify their stories!

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About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

We are making JUVENILE because we were impacted by the system - this story is personal. Our co-directors are cis white women, one is LGBTQ. Our editor, co-writers, composer & music supervisor, and creative director are Black. Our producer and animator are multiracial. Our team is based in Memphis.

The Story


Since 2018 (when we began production on this film), 23 states have passed new laws to reduce the prosecution and incarceration of children in the adult system. As public opinion has shifted, criminal justice reforms have become a bi-partisan issue, with fiscally conservative states across the country decarcerating youth in their juvenile systems.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen jurisdictions across the country enact measures to quickly reduce youth detention populations - which shows it is possible, for health and safety reasons, to move away from incarceration towards more humane, developmentally appropriate responses for youth who’ve made mistakes. 

Youth justice advocates across the country have pushed further, with calls to keep youth out of detention and prisons altogether, and some states are raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 22-25 years old, in recognition of the extended period of adolescence during which the brain is still developing to full maturity. 

Yet with all these reforms, racial disparities in the juvenile system have gotten worse. In New Jersey, Black youth are 21 times more likely to be incarcerated than White youth, even when charged with similar offenses. Nationally, current statistics show Black youth are five (5) times more likely to be incarcerated than their White peers. 

As the summer uprisings of 2020 have shown, a racial reckoning is upon us, and the country is ready to fight for deep systemic change. On November 7th, President-Elect Joe Biden and Madame Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris made it clear that this racial reckoning would not be swept under the carpet. Now is a pivotal moment to release this film into the world.



The film opens: Shimaine (age 8) is running, running down the street. Ja’Vaune (age 11) sits at a desk in an empty room, the voices of fellow students taunt him from all directions. Ariel (age 12) hides in the school bathroom at lunch. Michael (age 13) sits up from his bed, revealing a shotgun; he holds it in his lap and contemplates suicide. Romeo (age 14) gets on the bus, walks to the back, and stares out the window, in shock.

JUVENILE traces the journeys of five young people who have emerged from the the system back into community. Now back at home, Shimaine (age 20), Ariel (age 18), Michael (age 23), Ja’Vaune (age 22), and Romeo (age 23) work for change in a new era of youth justice, where credible messengers are central figures in the nationwide push to transform our youth-serving systems.

Over the course of the film, their stories engage in conversation with older activists, their predecessors, who've emerged as national leaders by using their own lived experiences to push for radical systemic change. Together, their experiences and their wisdom help audiences redefine what youth justice could look like in America.

Our main characters are:

Ariel - San Mateo, CA


Ja'Vaune - Springfield, IL


Michael - Malden, MO


Romeo - Brooklyn, NY


Shimaine - Albany, GA



We’re filmmakers from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the film industry. Plus, we’ve all been directly or indirectly impacted by the issues in this film, which means we have a unique perspective and framing for how we’ve approached the making of this film. 

As white directors of a film about the juvenile system, we knew we couldn’t (and shouldn’t) attempt to shape this narrative without collaborating with Black and Brown artists whose communities have been disproportionately impacted by the issues in this film. It was important to us to create this work with people who've had personal experience with the issues that our film represents. We are proud of our filmmaking team, and we can’t wait to share the end results of our process with you. 

This film fills a representation vacuum when it comes to who we’ve centered as the experts on youth justice. All of the youth and adults who appear in our film speak from their personal, lived experiences in the system and in the movement. They are both experts in their own lived experiences and experts in doing the work that is necessary to transform systems. 

As far as we’ve seen, there are no other movies out there quite like this film, and YOU are uniquely located to share this film with your communities. You can share it with your social and professional networks to extend its reach to more audiences. You can share it with local organizations to make a difference in YOUR COMMUNITY, because youth justice work starts locally, in county-level jurisdictions. 

This film will create awareness about what it’s like to be in the juvenile system AND about what communities across the country are doing to improve outcomes for system-impacted youth. Our film participants tell it like it is - but they also tell us how things could be, and how the system is actually changing for the better in their communities.

This film gives us HOPE and a roadmap for what youth justice could look like in our country. When the film is released, it can impact the lives of youth and families who are currently dealing with these issues in your home communities.



While our ultimate goal is wider distribution via a major online streaming platform (i.e. Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Oprah Winfrey Network), our more immediate goal is getting this film to the people it was made for: YOU!!! 

You are our first priority. We want the film to reach #youthjustice heroes like you, all across the country: All of the youth, youth justice advocates, and allies who are working at the local level to build equitable communities of care and opportunity for ALL youth, communities that prioritize health and safety over incarceration. 

We’re currently about halfway through our post-production process. This campaign represents the minimum amount we need to complete the film. But we all know that getting the film completed isn’t the last step in this process, because the next step is distribution!! After we finish the film, we need to make sure it reaches more audiences like YOU. 

Our stretch goals: Every dollar that we raise above our post-production goal will be allocated to our next steps with this film: social impact planning (marketing and outreach), partnerships and curriculum development (for community screenings and educational distribution), and audience engagement (including film festivals). 

Even if we meet our campaign goal, keep sharing the campaign, so we can meet our stretch goals, too!



If you want your donation to be tax-deductible, you can give using this link. You can also mail a check to our fiscal sponsor. Make it out to Southern Documentary Fund (please write on check "for Juvenile film”) and send it to P.O. Box 3622, Durham, NC 27702.

If you give during this crowdfunding campaign (between now and December 10th), you'll be eligible for incentives! You can email us at [email protected] with your incentive request, or we will follow up with you once we see your donation come through.


THANK YOU for your support!!!

xoxo the JUVENILE team


Behind-the-Scenes with crew & young actors in January 2020

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Research & Fact Checking

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Knowledge is power.

About This Team

A message from Sarah & Joann:

As White directors of a film about the juvenile system, we knew we couldn’t (and shouldn’t) attempt to shape this narrative without collaborating with Black and Brown artists whose communities have been disproportionately impacted by the issues in this film. We reached out to people that we admire in our own community for their creative vision and freedom of thought, and we reached out to Brown Girls Doc Mafia to connect with an editor who could take our film to the next level.

As female filmmakers, we prioritized hiring female crew members throughout the production of this film.

We are proud of our filmmaking team, and we can’t wait to share the end results of our process with you!


JUVENILE's Key Collaborators 

Sarah Fleming (Director, Producer, Writer, Director of Photography) 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.

Joann Selvidge (Director, Producer, Writer) 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.

Darcy McKinnon (Producer) is a documentary producer whose prior work includes the films ‘Maquilapolis’ and ‘Live, Nude, Girls, UNITE!’.’ She is currently in post-production on ‘The Neutral Ground’ with CJ Hunt,, in mid-production on ‘Commuted’ with Nailah Jefferson, Joann Selvidge and Sarah Fleming’s ‘Juvenile’ and is co-directing and producing the Tribeca If/Then supported short ‘A Fine Girl.’. McKinnon's work has been broadcast on POV, LPB and Cinemax, and her current projects have received support from SFIFF, CAAM, Chicken and Egg, Firelight Media, ITVS, Black Public Media, Sundance and the Tribeca Film Institute.

Jamey Hatley (Writer) is a Memphian obsessed with stories in ruin, at the very edge of being forgotten. Her writing has appeared in the Oxford American, Memphis Noir, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. She was a Prose Fellow for the National Endowment for the Arts, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award Winner, and the inaugural Indie Memphis Black Screenwriting Fellow (selected by Barry Jenkins). She wrote, directed, and produced a short film based on her story-essay, “Always Open, The Eureka Hotel” which is an official selection of the 2019 Indie Memphis Film Festival and the Black Film Festival of New Orleans.. Ms. Hatley is a member of the Writers Guild of America, East.

Princess Hairston (Writer, Editor) is an editor & filmmaker in NYC. Princess was supervising editor for Pier Kids which premiered at DOCNYC 2019, contributing editor on Fresh Dressed, an official 2015 Sundance Film Festival selection, and editor on the first two episodes of the Emmy-nominated series Capture with Mark Seliger. She was selected for the 2019 DCTV Docu WIP Lab and is a 2018 recipient of the Karen Schmeer Editing Fellowship. Princess is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia and the Alliance of Editors.

IMAKEMADBEATS (Composer, Music Supervisor) is an artist/producer/engineer and founder of Unapologetic, a creative company. His professional career started at Quad Studios in Manhattan, working with music industry stars like Ludacris, Solange Knowles, & Busta Rhymes and eventually placing music with TV shows, commercials, and movies. After moving back to Memphis, IMAKEMADBEATS created Unapologetic, a company built on the idea of building boldly and unapologetically yourself in ways that inspired others to do the same. The organization includes a record label, video production company, event coordination, and clothing line.

Matthew Thomas (Art Director) 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.

Christopher Reyes (Animator) 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.

Hernan Carvente Martinez (Expert Advisor) 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.

Ever since his return to society, Five Mualimm-ak (Expert Advisor) 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.

Current Team