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A cutting-edge documentary about homelessness and mental illness conveying the urgency of a universal paradigm shift.
82 backers pledged $20,175 to help bring this project to life.

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 Sheltered Mercy: More Than a Film About Homelessness 

Through the desperately resilient words of several of Sacramento’s homeless individuals and the analytical lenses of a clinical psychologist and expert documentary filmmaker, Sheltered Mercy conveys the urgency of a universal paradigm shift regarding homelessness. The film will follow specific homeless individuals over a period of time, showing an intimate portrayal of the people who have fallen the furthest and have the least, and use these stories as conduits to examine the deficiencies in our political and social systems. Sheltered Mercy is centered in Sacramento, California, the capital of the state with the most wealth—and highest poverty rate—in the country.

This film will show homelessness to be the most pressing domestic crisis facing the state of California and an issue that extends into every town and city in the country. It will show the conditions that contribute to homelessness: lack of affordable housing, increasing costs of education, a mental health care system that does not come close to meeting peoples’ needs, and the lack of supportive services for the various marginalized groups that find themselves homeless – people who are alcohol and drug dependent, victims of domestic violence, foster care youth, and LGBTQ+ youth. 

Why This Film Matters

Homelessness grows every year. More people suffer and more communities struggle to manage this problem. It is imperative that we find better solutions to address homelessness. It’s an issue that is closer to all of us than we would like to imagine, and it something that everyone is dealing with – by paying tax money to try to manage the problem, by having homeless people overcrowd emergency rooms and jails, by living in communities where businesses cannot thrive and citizens do not feel safe, by the threat of public health crises because public restrooms and trash bins are not provided to people experiencing homelessness, or by simply having to view the desperate lives of the homeless as part of the normal American landscape.

Showing this story is critical to mobilizing communities toward implementing policies that will result in effective change. 

This film is important. 

This film is part of the solution.


What the Funds are for:

We will be giving 10% of our profits made on Day 1 to Women's Empowerment. Day 1 yielded $6,836, so we will donate $683.60.


 Sheltered Mercy Estimated Fund Usage 

Travel costs will be for the film crew to get to Sacramento, where most of the filming will be done. It will also allow us to film in a few other cities around the country to give snapshots of the homeless issue on a national scale. The stipend will be for our camera crew. Editing funds will go toward editing, sound mixing, color grading, and the production of our original film score. Website funds will cover the cost of our domain name ownership and the maintenance costs of a professional website.
Travel costs will be for the film crew to get to Sacramento, where most of the filming will be done. It will also allow us to film in a few other cities around the country to give snapshots of the homeless issue on a national scale. The stipend will be for our camera crew. Editing funds will go toward editing, sound mixing, color grading, and the production of our original film score. Website funds will cover the cost of our domain name ownership and the maintenance costs of a professional website.

People in the community we have interviewed

Homeless individuals we have interviewed

We have interviewed dozens of homeless people for this film. Through these interviews, we have discovered that everyone has a different story about what brought them into homelessness, and that homeless people are not very different from the rest of us.

Some of these people are:

  • A family of six living in their car despite the father working a full-time job.
  • A chronically homeless 54 year old man, addicted to heroin since the age of 12 and dropped out of school in the 6th grade. A victim of multiple generations of poverty.
  • Homeless college student, embarressed by her homeless status and trying to blend into the student community. Sleeping between her car, the student study lounge and her car. 
  • A mother who escaped domestic violence into homelessness with her two daughters.
  • A college-recruited athlete who had his first psychotic break at the age of 19. This paranoid schizophrenic receives no psychiatric treatment and is homeless. 
  • A LGBTQ+ identified youth that was told they were no longer welcome in their home because of their sexual orientation. This person is now homeless.
  • A veteran that suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. This homeless veteran is also alcohol and drug dependent.
  • A woman that escaped the abuse and exploitation of human trafficking into homelessness. 

Our Team

Leslie Silver, Ph.D. -- Co-Creator and Producer 

Leslie Silver is a clinical psychologist who conceived of the idea for this film thirty years ago when she was working as a social worker, helping people in need connect to services in New York City and San Francisco. After earning a bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, Leslie received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Leslie has worked in a variety of settings including hospital psychiatry departments, community mental health clinics, schools, and alongside police officers on mental health crisis calls. She currently has a private practice in Northern California. Throughout her career, Leslie has been moved by the stories she has heard and images she has witnessed from the people who have fallen the furthest and who have the least. Leslie is uniquely positioned to tell the Sheltered Mercy story. She knows how to get people to share their stories, and understands the social service and political systems that the poorest among us have to navigate. Leslie is persistent in her quest to get the truth behind the stories of the homeless to a broad audience. Through artful storytelling, Leslie believes she and her team can elevate the dialogue around the homeless issue and instigate effective policy change.


Sean Pamphilon -- Director and Producer 

Director/Producer Sean Pamphilon is an award-winning filmmaker who has written, produced and directed short-form content, short films and feature-length documentaries for more than a quarter century. His feature-length documentaries have included Playing with Rage, a story about women’s football players, and The United States of Football, a cutting-edge examination of the head trauma crisis plaguing America’s most popular sport. He won Emmy, Peabody and IDA awards for Run Ricky Run, an all-access exploration of NFL star Ricky Williams’ abrupt retirement that was part of ESPN’s critically acclaimed 30 for 30 series. In addition to Sheltered Mercy, Sean currently is writing, producing and directing four other feature-length documentaries: Father’s Day, a story about a journey he takes with his sons while coming to terms with the death of his own father; Crying Out Loud, a film about polarizing NFL star and social activist Michael Bennett; Surrender to Win, which details former Raiders quarterback Todd Marinovich’s struggle with addiction; and Fightin’ Words, which explores a flag-football league comprised of openly gay players. He’s also producing The Art of Conversation for ESPN. Sean’s storytelling is genuine and uncompromising. His innate ability to get close to his characters exposes an intimate truth to paint visually poignant landscapes.


Phillip Grove -- Editor and Co-Cinematographer

Phillip Grove is a 2016 Cum Laude graduate of Occidental College,  where he studied film and digital media. Phillip’s experience ranges from producing and directing short films and promotional videos, to working as an editor and cameraman on feature-length documentaries. In addition to his work on Sheltered Mercy, Phillip is currently filming and editing three feature-length documentaries. Additionally, Phillip is an associate producer for ESPN’s The Art of Conversation.


Other Ways to Help

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and visit our website at https://www.shelteredmercyfilm.com to learn more about our film.

Share our campaign with members of your community to help us gain wider awareness. We cannot do this without you. 

The Crew on a shoot: Leslie Silver, Sean Pamphilon, Phillip Grove
The Crew on a shoot: Leslie Silver, Sean Pamphilon, Phillip Grove

Risks and challenges

The Sheltered Mercy crew is passionate about this project and is willing to work tirelessly to ensure that this film gets made and meets our high standards of production quality.

Our biggest challenge in this film is making the subject matter of homelessness palatable and relatable. There is a story to be told because the issues around homelessness are largely ignored by general society, and the goal of this film to draw people’s attention to this issue and keep them engaged.

Another challenge of this film is keeping in touch with a population that, by the nature of their circumstances, are difficult to maintain consistent contact with. Homeless people are transient and often physically and mentally ill. Many do not have addresses, e-mails or phone numbers, so contacting them for follow-up interviews sometimes requires searching neighborhoods and networking with other people on the street.

However, we are not intimidated by these challenges. We know the story is worth it.

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Funding period

- (34 days)