The Bad Kids
March 20, 10 pm

The Bad Kids

  • BY Lou Pepe & Keith Fulton | IN Education
    Premiered March 20, 2017

About the Film

Located in an isolated and impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock Continuation High School is one of California’s alternative schools for at-risk students. Every student there has fallen so far behind that they have little hope of earning a diploma at a traditional high school — Black Rock is their last chance. But tireless Principal Vonda Viland and the teachers at Black Rock are on a mission to realize the potential of students who were deemed lost causes by the system. Powerful and inspiring, The Bad Kids follows Viland and her staff over a year as they coach at-risk teens with compassion, respect, and a seemingly endless supply of patience. MORE

The film, which won the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking, focuses on three students — Lee, who has the additional pressure of now trying to support a child that he co-parents with another Black Rock student; Jennifer, a young woman grappling with sexual abuse; and Joey, a young man with a talent for music but who comes from an unstable home with a history of drug addiction — as they work through the traumas and obstacles that threaten their spirit and futures.

The Filmmakers

Keith Fulton (Producer/Director/Sound) and Lou Pepe (Director/Cinematographer) are directors of both documentary and fiction films, among them Lost in La Mancha, shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, 2002, and Brothers of the Head, winner of the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature, 2006. Fulton and Pepe both hold MFAs in Radio-TV-Film from Temple University. They are alumni of the Sundance Institute's Writing and Directing Labs. As Low Key Pictures, they have received documentary commissions from the Gates and Participant Foundations to create documentary programming about public education. They are the authors of numerous screenplays, and the creators of Malkovich's Mail, an original documentary special for AMC. LESS

Film Credits

Directed by
Keith Fulton & Lou Pepe

Produced by
Keith Fulton

Director of Photography
Lou Pepe

Edited by
Jacob Bricca
Mary Lampson

Original Score by

Executive Producers
Ted Dintersmith
Donna Gruneich & Kevin Gruneich
Ari Ioannides & Christine Ioannides

Molly O’Brien

Associate Producers
Anne O’Shea
Brian Quattrini

Production Sound Recording and Mixing
Keith Fulton

Sound Designer and Re-recording Mixer
Michael Kowalski

Additional Editing
Bill Hilferty

Editorial Consultant
Geraud Brisson

Assistant Editor
Bill Hilferty

Editorial Advisors
Ra'anan Alexandrowicz
Marshall Curry
Tom Haneke
Mary Lampson
Geoffrey Richman
Jean Tsien
Lynette Wallworth

Editorial Intern
Jared Widman

Assistant Sound Editor
Wenrui "Sam" Fan

Foley Artist
Zijun Ren

Distribution Advisory Services Provided by
Preferred Content

Legal Counsel
Jacqueline Eckhouse
George M. Rush


Impact and Engagement
Picture Motion

Producer's Assistant
Shelby Ferguson

Post-Production Interns
Tom Brady
Eitan Kleinman
Matthew Lilly
Blake Morgan-Gamber

Megan Haney
Ben Roth
Sarah Wong

Assistant to Mr. Hilferty
Snarby Richard

Stills Photographer
Robert Beckwith


“Sing Her Song”
Written by Joseph Patrick McGee
Performed by Joseph Patrick McGee

“I’m Yours”
Written by Jason Mraz
Published by Goo Eyed Music (ASCAP)
Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

“I Just Don’t Care”
Written by Albert Lee Wright, Jr.
Performed by Albert Lee Wright, Jr. (aka Mike Craftsman)

“This Town (Redux)”
Written by Albert Lee Wright Jr., Joseph Patrick McGee and Jorge Corante
Performed by Mike Craftsman and Joey
Courtesy of Urban Authentic

Special Thanks
Tom Baumgarten
Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
Erin Crysdale
Film Independent
John Richmond
The Staff and Students of Black Rock High School
Dr. Deborah Turner
Vonda Viland

Fiscal Sponsorship provided by
International Documentary Association

Funding Provided by
Threshold Foundation High Impact Documentary Films Funding Circle
Sundance Institute, through Sundance Institute Catalyst Forum
and the Sundance Documentary Film Program
Nancy Blachman
Perspective Fund
IDA Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund
Fledging Fund
Temple University Vice Provost for the Arts Grant

The Bad Kids was produced by Low Key Pictures in association with the Filmmaker Fund.

This film was produced by Low Key Pictures which is solely responsible for its content.

© MMXV, Crumbel & Smeer, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Have you any experience with alternative or continuation schools? Has anyone in your family been called a "lost cause" at some point in a school system? What else can we do to help at-risk kids?


  • Sundance Film Festival
    Special Jury Prize - Vérité Filmmaking
  • International Documentary Association
    Creative Recognition Award: Best Music
Please review our comment guidelines.
Have you any experience with alternative or continuation schools? Has anyone in your family been called a "lost cause" at some point in a school system? What else can we do to help at-risk kids?