Young Minds of America

New York City, New York | Film Short

Comedy, Drama

Monica Arsenault

2 Campaigns | New York, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $16,050 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

55 supporters | followers

Enter the amount you would like to pledge


Young Minds of America is a Dark Comedy Short Film about how representation in the classroom (or lack thereof) can influence a child's ability to learn from a young age. This film asks how we can look past demographics & test scores to help children think outside the box.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

Young Minds of America addresses unconscious bias in a place where it is frequently ignored: the American education system. The diverse team behind this project, in gender and race, strengthens the conversation about representation and inclusivity, asking how we can fix a seemingly broken system.

The Story


Carl, an interim teacher, is forced to confront his own unconscious bias as he fights to change a corporate America education system.




Young Minds of America follows Carl, a substitute teacher trying to inspire and teach his students, but there's a catch. Turns out, Carl has replaced Mike, a black teacher who was fired for being too 'controversial'. When Carl quickly learns that subject matter centered around inclusivity is frowned upon, he fights to keep teaching in a fun way, ensuring all of his students are seen and heard.


With the help of some veteran teachers, his finaceé, and the encouragement of his students, Carl helps Dr. Hemmen come around to his side, but is it enough?  Throughout the film, Carl is forced to face his own personal unconscious bias as he learns exactly how broken the system is. 


Young Minds of America addresses exactly how representation in the classroom can heavily impact students and what happens when  that representation is silenced, diminished, or removed. Young Minds of America tackles a broken system, the American public school system, from the point of view of a young, emerging teacher. It ultimately asks us, is this the future we want for our children or can we work together to fix the current system?



We are fiscally sponsored by From the Heart Productions, a non-profit charity dedicated to helping independent filmmakers get their films funded. This means that any donation you give to our crowdfunding campaign is tax deductible.

Currently, we are raising funds for production and we need the full amount to make a quality film for you, our audience! Your pledge will go directly to paying, feeding, and transporting our cast and crew, as well as renting some necessary equipment to tell this story the way we want.


Once this project is complete, we will be taking it to festivals. Soul Series Productions and L2G Productions have teamed up before to take Cheer Up, Charlie - a successful web series - to festivals like Urbanworld, Hollyshorts, LA Femme, T.O. Webfest, and so many more. Individually, these two companies have taken multiple projects to festivals around the world and we can't wait to see where Young Minds of America takes us.


You'll be the first to hear about our festival screenings and we can't wait to see you there where we can celebrate the success of Young Minds of America together!


We appreciate your contribution and can't wait to iniclude you in the process of making our film! Thanks for joining us on this journey. 



CARL: a young man in the twilight of his twenties who gets offered a job as an interim teacher at a public elementary school.  Faced with the never-ending red tape of being a public school teacher, Carl fights to be the mentor that he needed when he was a kid.


DR. HEMMEN: the principal of an elementary school who has done everything right her whole life, even receiving her EdD before even neeeding to go off of her parents health insurance. Now, her by-the-book attitude that got her here only gives more power to the helicopter parents who are projecting their own fears onto the school. Challenged by Carl’s unorthodox teaching styles, Dr. Hemmen faces a choice - to defend her teachers or appease the parents.


MARGE: the veteran teacher worn out by  the system. Throughout the film, she helps Carl find his place in the school, remembering why she loves teaching in the process. 


DR. CASE: an administrator brought in to reinforce the ‘teach to the test’ philosophy, going so far as to assign a supervisor to Carl’s classroom. He has the power in any room he’s in and he knows it. 


FAYE: Carl’s supportive fiancé. Suggesting Carl teach in a more engaging way, we see a glimpse into Carl’s home life and intellectual support system with Faye.


MIKE: the teacher that we all wish we had when we were in elementary school. He makes learning fun and gives every student the individual attention they need to thrive.  He refuses to teach to the test and ultimately gets fired for teaching outside of the curriculum. 


THE STUDENTS: The white students at Easton Elementary are doing the best they can, but end up regurgitating everything that their parents say which usually isn’t nice. Carl initially writes them off as closed-minded, but their enthusiasm in the classroom inspires Carl to help them learn and grow.

  • JUAN: a 4th grade student who just wants to make friends but is picked on for being different. Carl sees potential in him and tries to connect with him.

  • JACOB: Juan’s bully. What he’s taught by his Dad at home definitely has an influence on him and it shows when he bullies the only Mexican student in his class.

  • PAUL: Jacob’s friend. He speaks up less about his views, but he doesn’t tell Jacob he’s wrong and sometimes goes along with what Logan decides to do.

  • MARISSA: one of the few black students in Carl’s class. When Carl fights to make sure that his lessons celebrate every diverse culture that his classroom represents, Marissa sees Mike in Carl and feels seen.


THE TEACHERS: In addition to Marge, Mike, and Carl, there are a few other 4th grade teachers trying to survive the same system. Keeping their heads down, they ignore the microaggressions, bullying, and unjust firing. Trying their hardest to keep their jobs, they end up complicit in perpetuating a broken system.


THE PARENTS: Though never seen and only heard, the parents play a huge part in this  story. The catalyst for the firing of Mike, Dr. Hemmen and Carl work side-by-side, though differently, to challenge parental complaints while still maintaining their jobs. 



I chose to direct this film because our modern education system is failing our children and future generations. Growing up, I attended public school until I was in 9th grade. I was bullied for being “the weird kid” a lot. Only a few teachers, and my parents, encouraged me to embrace how weird could be positive and good. 


In directing this film, I hope to convey the impact that a supportive teacher can have on any individual, and what that ultimately looks like from the teacher’s perspective. My dad is a teacher, so I know just how much teachers fight for their students every day - they fight for smaller class sizes so they can have more one-on-one time with each student, they fight administrators when designing their curriculum, they fight parents who don’t want their children exposed to certain ideas or philosophies, and so much more. 


In our current political climate where education and the arts are federally underfunded, continuing to receive less federal help, we need to discuss how the education of our children builds a better future. I hope to do that through this film and I can’t wait to share it with the world, celebrating educators everywhere.


-Monica Arsenault, Young Minds of America Director & Producer


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Transportation costs

Costs $1,925

We're filming a large portion of this project in New Jersey and need to transport crew & equipment.

Hiring Cast

Costs $875

In addition to crew, we'll be paying talent for their work on this project.

Production Design

Costs $1,000

Our all-in budget for design and costumes is $1,000, though we intend to source most of these items

Hair & Makeup Kit Fee

Costs $200

Our Hair & Makeup Artist has worked hard to build her kit and is using it for our project.


Costs $2,500

We will be providing breakfast and lunch for our cast & crew every day we are on set.

Production Insurance

Costs $2,000

We're committed to safety & honoring all set/union regulations, including insuring our production.

Lighting & Camera Equipment

Costs $1,500

We'll need to rent a lighting package and a dana dolly to get the shots we need to tell this story.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Hiring Crew

Costs $10,000

We are committed to paying our crew a fair rate for their work on this project.

About This Team

Our team page is constantly being updated as we add more people to our growing list of cast and crew. We're excited to share with you a little bit more about ourselves.



Danny Epstein is an actor, writer, producer, and all around good guy.  His love of the performing arts goes back to his first equity play when he was twelve, but in school he struggled due to his ADHD and discouragement from his teachers. Before going to NYU for his BFA, he produced and acted in Make it Happen, (2012 NBC Short Cuts Audience Award Winner). He is currently producing Nun Habits and can be seen in the pilot of HBO’s Upcoming miniseries The Plot Against America.  Danny wrote this movie to illustrate the lasting impact having a supportive teacher can have on any student’s life.




Derek Rushing graduated from ASU’s film program and has been working in film his whole life.  Most recently, he won the special diversity award at the Lebanese Independent Film Festival. Derek loves being on screen and stage, but he realized in order to tell the stories of people of color and the LGBTQ+ community well, he had to be behind the camera crafting the stories. Derek’s goal is to expand these genres beyond the typical oppression of marginalized communities.  Derek continues to grow and won’t stop telling stories until he is dead, and maybe even after.



Director/Producer/Soul Series Productions Founder

Monica Arsenault is a Brooklyn-based writer and director whose work addresses the issues at the intersection of womanhood, faith, and sexuality. Her goal as an artist is to bring communities together through diverse storytelling. Projects that Monica has written, directed and/or produced have been internationally recognized at over 20 different film festivals. Currently, Monica is directing a short film featuring Lindsey Sagrera and  directed Lydia Granered’s  music video for her song Weekend. You can see her original web series, Nun Habits, screening at Cinequest 2020 this March.



Producer/L2G Productions Co-Founder

Gabrielle Adkins is an actor/writer/director/producer and the head of her own independent production company, L2G Productions.  A military brat from across the South, Gabrielle trained in singing and dance for 15 years before earning her B.A. from American University as a double major in Political Science and International Relations. After attending the Atlantic Acting School, she performed in a variety of theatre and film including, A Pier Drawn in Chalk at The Secret Theatre; May Violets Spring, Let Nina Prosper, and the serialized podcast drama Harlem Queen. Gabrielle has also directed several short films and trailers for L2G Productions and co-produced web series such as Cheer Up Charlie.



Producer/L2G Productions Co-Founder

Mahima Saigal is an actor, dancer, writer and admirer of everything Books, Bollywood and Beyoncé! Her most recent stage credits include: Sanam in the NY premiere of Queen by Madhuri Shekar (New York Innovative Theatre Awards, Nominee - Best Actress in a leading role); Exeter in Mary V (NY Int'l Fringe Festival); Masha in The Seagull; Anjali in Hiding Kanye (Best Featured Actor Award, Winner). When she's not pursuing the craft she crossed the seven seas for, she is busy kicking b*** at the Krav Maga Academy in Chelsea. Mahima is a graduate of the Atlantic Theater's Acting School where she met her future collaborator and co-founder of L2G Productions, Gabrielle Adkins.



Producer/L2G Productions Partner

Ehsan Ali is a lawyer, mediator, producer, and partner in L2G Productions. When he’s not collaborating with creatives on a wide range of film and series projects, he’s maintaining an active legal practice, serving as a mediator with the New York Peace Institute, and pursuing a passion for writing.



Production Company

Soul Series Productions was founded by Monica Arsenault in March 2018 with a mission to tell stories that bridge the gap between communities. In its first year, Soul Series produced two six episode web series that have  been internationally recognized at over 20 different film festivals collectively. Some of these festivals include Urbanworld, HollyShorts, Cinequest, LA Femme, T.O. Webfest, and many more. Soul Series productions released its first music video in January 2020, a collaboration with Lydia Granered for her song, Weekend. In addition to Young Minds of America, Soul Series is currently in development and pre-production for a new web series, short film, and feature film.



Production Company

L2G Productions is an independent production company dedicated to expanding the understanding of humanity in mainstream media. We look to uplift not just ourselves but all those whose stories are often overlooked, from ethnicity, to age, class, gender to sexual orientation. Our most recent short films include: Evening Commute (Official Selections of the Miami Independent Film Festival, Indie Visions Film Festival and a Semi-Finalist of the Best Short Fest 2019), Happy People Anonymous (Official Selection and Winner of the Audience Award at Katra Film Festival), and [Black] History, an immersive educational video to teach children about black history that was later adopted as an educational tool and shown around Baltimore City schools.

Current Team