"To me, home represents freedom.
Home represents peace."
After enduring 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Johnny Berry was one of 14 people exonerated in 2019 by the Philadelphia DA Office's new Conviction Integrity Unit. Thrust into a society which offers him little to no resources, Johnny's disturbingly common story urges us to examine the consequences of a justice system built around profit and punishment, and challenges us to imagine a better system -- one rooted in accountability, restitution, and rehabilitation.
Johnny Berry has waited decades to share his story, and it deserves to be told. He's placed an incredible amount of trust in us to bring his journey of exoneration to the surface. We are committed to helping Johnny produce this film to the best of our ability. It is paramount to us that we continue to thoroughly educate ourselves as artists, filmmakers, and advocates for change. Johnny and the production team hope that by illuminating the process of exoneration, we can educate viewers about the failings of the criminal industrial complex and inspire reform.
As of February 2021, we cannot move forward with production without your help. We've spent the last five months building out our team, researching, writing grant proposals, and strategizing how to best hit the ground running. Now, we need to adequately support the individuals working to bring Johnny's biography to the screen. Our ideal budget includes funding for COVID-19 testing, proper PPE, SD cards, batteries, production insurance, and fair wages for pre-production (research & budgeting), filming, and editing. It includes submission fees for festivals and competitions. AND it includes our monthly subscription to sites where we can share our progress with you!
Our total budget is currently $253,000, but we only need about 7% of that to get started. Seems lofty? Not at all! By every professional guild's standards, we fall well within the Low-Budget category. We were originally expecting that filming a feature-length documentary would take up to 5 years, but we've shortened that timeline to fit with a new docu-series format. Now, we're trying to complete the series by January 1st, 2022. The filmmakers on our team have agreed to work for far below minimum wage, even after the pandemic has already taken so much from independent artists, because they are passionate about bringing this series to you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing or giving to this film's launch.
LEAD ARTIST & PRODUCER
Johnny Berry was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the eldest of five children to Johnny Robinson and the late Charlene Berry. Rohnny Berry, his younger brother, was murdered in 1995 at the age of 15. During that same year, he was convicted and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the robbery and murder of the late Mr. Leonard Jones. From the ages of 16 to 41, he spent 23 years of his life paying a debt to society which he did not owe. On August 14, 2018, he was released on parole due to a United States Supreme Court ruling which established that a juvenile could not be automatically sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. And, in 2019, after many long years of fighting, he was finally exonerated. Since then, he has reintegrated as a motivated, productive member of society.
Chuck Pennacchio, Ph.D., is a lifelong issue, electoral, and union organizer; associate professor of history and politics at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia; president of the One Payer States network; senior advisor to Healthcare for All Pennsylvania; co-facilitator of Our Revolution Pennsylvania; and producer of the 2017 Medicare for All documentary "Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point."
Currently President of the Lancaster County organization, “Have A Heart for Persons in the Criminal Justice System”, which she co-founded, Jean Mary Bickmire has been a criminal justice advocate for 25 years. She is a Mitigation Specialist who has prepared court pre-sentence reports for persons facing life in prison. She is committed to promoting safer communities through justice system reform.
DIRECTOR OF CHAPTER ONE
Taj Rauch (he/him) is a Philadelphia based artist and entrepreneur. His body of work consists of existential commentaries on nihilistic worlds through film, installation, writing and choreography. You can find out more about him through his website, tajrauch.com.
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER & DIRECTOR OF CHAPTER TWO
David Dunnington is a visual artist based in Philadelphia with a focus in directing film and typography.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY FOR CHAPTER TWO
Leah Prather (she/they) is a Philadelphia filmmaker specializing in cinematography and sound.
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER &
Sheridan Merrick (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based writer, composer, dramaturge, and performer who aims to tell stories which both reflect our current society, and inspire possibilities for a better one. Learn more at .
Zoe Nebraska Feldman
Zoe Nebraska Feldman (she/they) is an actor, filmmaker, and collage artist living in Philadelphia. Her work examines the absurdity of our world today and the necessity of authentic, equitable connection in it.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
Bella Main (she/her) is a theater-maker, community advocate, and mutual aid organizer based in Philadelphia. Bella is a co-founder of PHL Laundry Support, a mutual aid initiative that provides clean laundry to Philly’s unhoused and housing insecure communities.
CO-DIRECTOR OF CHAPTER FOUR
CO-DIRECTOR OF CHAPTER FOUR & NARRATIVE RESEARCHER
Nick Hatcher (he/they) is a director, writer, producer, teaching artist, and stage manager based in Philadelphia. He primarily focuses in directing and developing new work and is passionate about using his craft for activism and advocacy. Corzo Center Impact Grant Recipient.
Angela Bey (they/them) is a Black, Queer performer, producer, playwright, and activist from Southwest Philadelphia. A recent college-graduate, Ang’s work has premiered in Philadelphia, New York, Denver, San Francisco, and more. They are the co-creative director of Wings of Paper Theatre Co. and Shoe Box Theatre Collective.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY, CHAPTERS ONE & THREE
Lucky Marvel (he/him) is a filmmaker, screenwriter, and performer based in Philadelphia. To keep up with Lucky, follow @luckyluckymarvel on Instagram.