Shooting a short film on location at Jackson Prison. A 17 year old boy sent to an adult prison for robbing a photomat with a toy gun.
I'm shooting a short film based on my book, Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man's Prison. I am an NYU Graduate film student and I will be shooting this film on location at Jackson Prison. Filming will take place in the very cellblock I was housed in over thirty years ago. I'm taking 36 cast and crew members from NYC. Most of the crew are made up of fellow NYU graduate film students. This is a SAG film project and the cast are all working on deferred compensation. The largest expense is transporting, housing and feeding the cast and crew. Plus I have one day where I'll need 100 extras. Location fees, props, camera rental and costumes make up the majority of the budget.
For me, this is a very exciting project. To be able to go back to the very prison I was incarcerated in over thirty years and to shoot a film there is very empowering. It's a stand on the table, pound my chest, "I made fire" kind of moment. That prison did not destroy me. The sexual abuse I suffered there as a teenager, did not destroy me. I survived. I recovered. And now, for six days in early December, that prison is mine.
Much of the work I've been doing for the last decade has been raising awareness of the plight of teenagers housed in adult jails and prisons. This is a tremendous opportunity to tell that story to the world. To humanize the issue in a way that only film can do. It's easy to say that teens who mess up - who make mistakes - get what they deserve if they're sent to prison. But it's another thing, to see it dramatized and to identify with a human being that this is happening to. On any given day, in the United States, we house over 100,000 teenagers in adult jails and prisons. This film is about what happens to them. This film is about the painful compromises one has to make to survive in there. This is a story about liberation in the most unlikely place. What happened, what it was like, and how I survived it. I hope you'll help me tell this story.
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