Directed by Filmmaker Michael Nes
“Congratulations, You’re On Your Own” takes an intimate look at the real-life stories of several young people who have recently “aged out” of foster care. In LA County, most young people age out of the foster system at age 21. At that point, they exceed the maximum age requirement needed for their caregiver to receive financial support, and are often forced to leave the family or guardian who was previously legally and financially incentivized to assist them. Once out of foster care, these former foster youth must wade through life on their own. Michael Nes’s insightful and powerfully moving documentary explains how children enter the foster care system, what happens while they are there, and especially the hardships they face as they transition out.
Survival Mode: The Search for Housing
Learn about the struggles that transitional age foster youth face in finding housing and finding their way after foster care.
Music Is My Therapy
Rozo shares how music is her outlet and her therapy – it inspires her to keep pursuing her dreams to become a music artist.
No Place To Go
At 18, the first thing foster youth need is stable and safe housing. Maritza describes life after foster care as a teenage mom and her need for housing.
Off To College
Flo credits her successful path to college to her older sister Marcy, who stepped up when their parents couldn’t to raise her younger siblings.
Education Is My Ticket Out
Chris shares how his foster mother’s care even after graduation changed his life. She gave him a stable foundation to pursue his education.
Marcy is a former foster youth, having spent most of her childhood years in foster care. During that time, she had many run-ins with the law and struggled with addiction and substance abuse. However today–nearly a decade after emancipating from foster care–Marcy has become a successful young professional, peer advisor and kinship care provider to her three younger siblings. She managed to get custody of her younger siblings, Flo, Maritza and Mikey, when her parents could no longer provide for the family. As a Peer Advisor in Los Angeles, Marcy helps transitional age youth find their way after emancipating.
Rozo is a charismatic, budding entertainer who dreams of becoming a music artist yet often still finds herself struggling to make ends meet. Since aging out of the foster care system several years ago, she continues to face challenges as she is transitioning into adulthood. Rozo’s foster story is all too common. As a youth, she was abused by relatives. As a young adult, she has faced bouts with homelessness, drug use and unemployment. Nonetheless, her determined spirit keeps her going every day, motivating her to turn pain and struggle into powerful lyrics and songs.
Chris is a former foster youth and college sophomore, working on his Business Administration degree. An avid skateboarder, Chris’ story may differ from many other foster youth, yet he confronts the same challenges many former youth face who are aging out of foster care: going to college, feeling a sense of belonging, finding a home. After graduating from high school, Chris faced much uncertainty and instability. However he credits his foster mother’s open door policy to changing his future and giving him a stable foundation to pursue his education. Today, Chris has turned his foster care experience into advocacy work to help better the lives of others.
Director/Producer – Michael D. Nes
Michael is an award-winning filmmaker with experience across diverse platforms, and a keen interest in social justice. He’s married to a dedicated social worker who inspired him to make this documentary, Congratulations, You’re On Your Own: Life After Foster Care. Michael’s short films have screened at festivals across the United States and internationally. His latest short film, Soldier’s Horse, was selected to screen at numerous festivals, winning the award for Best Picture Western and the Sirocco Award for Excellence in Filmmaking at the Action On Film Festival. Michael holds a BA from The University of Texas and an MFA in Film Production from Loyola Marymount University.
Producer – Aaron Dowell BIO:
Aaron is a filmmaker and professor from Compton who currently teaches film courses at College Compton. His latest short film, Let’s Go For a Ride, premiered at the 2017 Long Beach Indie Film Festival where is it won Best Comedy – Short.
Editor – Eurie Chung
While pursuing a graduate degree at UCLA in Asian American Studies, Eurie Chung discovered community filmmaking, directing & editing “Metro es Para Todos: Hee Pok ‘Grandma’ Kim and the Bus Riders Union,” a documentary short profiling an elderly Korean immigrant activist, for her master’s thesis. She has continued working on a range of independent documentaries, commercials and promos, most recently producing the interactive documentary project K-TOWN ’92 and Off the Menu: Asian America for PBS. She is a recipient of funding from the Ford Foundation, California Humanities, ITVS, and Center for Asian American Media. Additionally, Eurie manages Flash Cuts, a post-production facility that has housed productions such as The Lovers, Deirdra and Laney Rob a Train, The Circle, Tallulah, Fury, and Afternoon Delight. She is currently in pre-production with Grace Lee on a film on modern day Koreatown, Los Angeles.