Logline: A broke academic grudgingly takes a job teaching writing at a juvenile prison. His students mock him, the hot math teacher rejects him, and a psychotic guard wants him out. Harvey must find common ground with the troubled kids and adapt to the hostile environment before it tears him apart.
Length: 22 Minutes
Director: Michael Keller
Producer: Shanna Green & Michael Keller
Writer: Michael Keller
About the writer, director and producer:
Michael Keller is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has screened at festivals around the world, on cable television and Netflix. He has created content from sunny Hollywood, California to even sunnier Mumbai, India.
Shanna Green is a Los Angeles-based writer and producer. A journalist by trade, she strives to tell stories that showcase the beauty of everyday life.
Key cast: Alessandra Assaf, Guy Barrera, Darien Battle, Shane Bradley, Jay Carreker, Kit Chester, Alan Chester, Alex Cohen, Luke Darga, John German, Susannah Hart Jones, Jason Kartalian, Stefen Kaufman, Michael Keller, Liz Loza, Daniel Rovira, Tannaz Shastiri, Parker Sloan, Bette Smith, Raam Weinfeld
Looking for: Representation, and ultimately a series order.
Made in association with: The Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles provided the main locations.
Release date: June 10, 2016
Where can I watch it at Dances With Films or in the next month? TCL Chinese Theater, Friday, June 10 @ 8pm.
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
We made this pilot presentation as proof of concept for a show that will tackle subjects ranging from masturbation to socio-economic inequality. We will go from the profane to the profound in the same breath. The confinement of juvenile prison is the perfect laboratory to mix ingredients — to force people whose paths would normally never cross, into the same confined space and marvel at the chemical reactions.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this show?
Everyone can relate to growing up. But few of us can relate to growing up behind bars. I hope we rendered characters who are real enough that audiences will feel there is a shorter distance between people from different walks of life.
How do personal and universal themes work in your episode?
What is the dynamic quality of juveniles that most grownups have already lost? Change. The older we get, the more set we are in our ways — but these characters have the opportunity to transform, from angry, abused husks of human beings into something different. Not model citizens — that’s boring; but engaging, dynamic, quirky, creative people.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
We’ve gone through several iterations of the script. There’s a version that’s a TV pilot, a feature film, a web series, etc. Hard Time Harvey is a flexible platform to explore the human condition. Prison shows have constrained visual palettes, so they create interesting challenges for the writers to dig deep into character development and engaging situations.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Dances With Films is our World Premiere. Even the cast and crew have yet to see it!
Who do you need to come on board to amplify this film’s message?
We’d love to be signed by a manager or agent who can get the project into the right network hands.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I hope it resonates with people and they feel for the characters and see them as multi-dimensional, fleshed out human beings.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this project?
Why do we lock children up — to punish them for crimes, or to discipline them to fit our expectations? How consistent are sentences across comparable crimes? Everyone is born innocent. What fails along the way that leads people to incarceration?
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Michael Keller’s first novel, Toy Soldiers, will soon be published by Montag Press.
Shanna Green is also completing her first novel.