Street Level (working title) is a documentary film that follows a group of six to eight homeless young people from their first day as Full Cycle interns to their “graduation” six months later.  Over the course of the film, viewers will watch their individual stories unfold, their relationships with the Full Cycle staff develop, and witness the successes and ongoing challenges they experience along the rocky road toward independence.  The film will end when the internship ends:  We’ll see some of the youth complete the internship, while others fall by the wayside.  Some stories will be inspiring, others a bleak reminder of how difficult the journey out of homelessness can be.

The film will be character-based, with no external narration.  It will be anchored by verite action filmed in the bike shop and interviews with the main characters.  In addition, the youth will be given video cameras, technical training, and storytelling guidance to record and reflect on what’s happening in their lives both in and outside the walls of Full Cycle.  Their own images and words will add an intimate “diary” element to the film, which will help bring viewers inside their world.  In keeping with the Full Cycle model, the youth will learn filmmaking skills and be paid a stipend for their work as they learn to find their own voices and craft compelling stories.  They will gain a sense of the importance and value of those stories, and by shining a light on their own lives, they will help other young people in similar at-risk circumstances.

Our goal is to make a powerful film that raises public awareness about the serious challenges homeless youth face and inspires and enables viewers to take action to help end the growing problem of youth homelessness in America.  Throughout the making of the film, and after it’s completion, viewers will be directed to a companion website that outlines steps they can take to combat youth homelessness, wherever they are.  Although Street Level will focus on one group of young people in one bike shop in South Minneapolis, the compelling story it tells will resonate in communities across America and around the world.

What We Hope To Achieve

Twin Cities Public Television plans to air Street Level across Minnesota.  The documentary will also be submitted to the national PBS programs Independent Lens and POV, as well as film festivals around the world.

We believe that Street Level will have a significant impact and a long life.  After broadcast,  it will continue to serve as a powerful marketing and advocacy tool for agencies and organizations who are working to end homelessness in the Twin Cities and other cities in the US.

A moving and inspiring call to action, it will:

  • Motivate decision makers, legislators, corrections & criminal justice professionals, child service and public safety administrators to seek and enact programs and housing opportunities for homeless youth.
  • Serve as a model for other communities by showing the benefits of creating internship programs like Full Cycle that provide training and build self-esteem for at-risk homeless youth.
  • Help increase the number of available shelter beds for youth in this and other metro areas.
  • Create more effective transition plans for homeless youth coming out of foster care programs and juvenile detention systems.

In addition, the documentary will give individual viewers a number of opportunities to take part in efforts to end youth homelessness through charitable contributions, sharing their own stories, volunteering, and calling on legislators to create programs and policies that help homeless youth.

About the Filmmaking Team

The Street Level team is a powerhouse of seasoned independent filmmakers, television producers, writers, photographers and production studio affiliates:  Emily Goldberg, a McKnight filmmaking fellow, Kelly Kinunen, the creator of Need magazine, and Michael Smith, producer of the PBS series, Make TV. Our work has garnered multiple Emmy awards and been seen in many diverse film festivals from the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam to the Museum of Modern Art.

FilmNorth is our fiscal sponsor and is also partnering with us to provide technical and storytelling training to the Full Cycle interns at their classrooms in St. Paul.

What unites all of us is the belief that the dire state of youth homelessness in the Twin Cities and around the country is ‘endable’. By making Street Level, we hope to be a strong catalyst for that change.