From the Inside Out documents the remarkable transformation among a group of prison inmates who, through life coaching skills, learn to improve their chance for living with purpose and achieving success both inside the prison system and out. And it begins with the story of one remarkable inmate named Talib who has become a personal friend, and one who has impacted my life as I have his.
Our Journey to Film Concept
I'm a psychologist and leadership coach, and one deeply immersed in the coaching skills philosophy of professional and executive coaching. But my life changed completely when I received an email in December of 2012 from a remarkable man named Talib M. Shakir, who has been serving time in a minimum security prison since he was seventeen years old. He's now nearly forty years old, having grown from boy to man.... inside the prison system.
Talib had found me through my website and other published materials suggested by the assistant warden,and he began to tell me his story.
Talib's Journey... and Mine...
Talib's time in prison has been met with many opportunities to grow in terms of education, experience, and knowledge, expressed through his prolific blog, A Voice from the Inside:
Through his writings, Talib seeks to bridge the gap of communication between the outside world and those currently serving time in America’s prisons.
The Director and Founder of the Reconstruct Program, Talib began his work of education on crime prevention and productive lifestyles while incarcerated. Through a variety of programs and philosophies, including life coaching principles, Talib has helped to forge his own transcendence, and he is helping others to do the same.
Talib and I quickly forged a friendship, an active one, and I have to say that I have learned more from him than I think he's ever learned from me.
A few months ago, I was having lunch with a friend of mine, who had just completed a feature-length documentary on a completely unrelated subject. As I shared Tailib's story with her, and his endeavors to promote change within the prison walls, she and I both began to realize that there was a bigger story here, and one which could be shared through the power of documentary film making.
And so here we are. And we need your help.
What We Can Do Together... and Why It's Important
Think about it... Talib went to prison at the age of 17 for a period of 20 years. During that time he took every opportunity to re-evaluate his life and turn it around for the better. He came to understand what it takes for someone to break the cycle of violence, crime, and recidivism, even in the face of a complex and dysfunctional judicial system which often fails to rehabilitate or - even worse - serves as a training facility for future criminal behavior.
His is a compelling story. The stories of the men who have shared this journey with him are also compelling. But aside from being captivating and inspirational, to say that we can learn from what they've achieved is an understatement; their story has the power to transform and change the individuals currently serving time in our prison system, and the prison system as a whole.
It can be done.... it can be done from the inside out.
And So Here's Where You Come In...
We are ready to begin production on a documentary which will not only share the success of Talib's story and his program, but also reach out to experts in the field of psychology, coaching, and the judicial system as a whole. Through in-depth interviews and case studies, we can present the positive argument for more productive programs in our prisons, ones which give inmates the tools to work through negative influences and emerge as individuals with positive outlooks and the tools to fulfill their dreams and become productive members of society.
Ours is not the first film to shed led on this kind of subject. The success of the recent documentary Serving Life, narrated by Forrest Whitaker and which extolls the benefits of inmates providing Hospice care to one another, is evidence that viewers are concerned about the current state of our prison system and hungry for change.
From the Inside Out is ready to explore the opportunities for that change, through the personalized stories of those on the inside, trying to make it happen, and those on the outside, trying to give them the resources they need.
How Can You Help?
Donate whatever you can. Your funds will go towards hard costs for a variety of production needs, essential to see the film through production. Members of our team have already expressed a willingness to volunteer services if necessary, but some needs are fixed, such as equipment and travel expenses.
We can't tell the story without you, and the story needs to be told.
Risks and challenges
Our goal is not only to share the remarkable story of Talib's transformation, and the transformation of his fellow inmates, but also to explore positive options for our justice system. We believe in the organic and authentic nature of documentary film making, and so as we document this journey, we are prepared for a number of potential challenges along the way.
Some of them, I'll bet we haven't even thought of yet - ;) But we're ready.
Overcoming hurdles will mean relying on that community, which includes YOU... a community of people who passionately support the project and the message it shares. Even through word of mouth, before launching this campaign, we have been overwhelmed with promises of support and wishes of good-will from people who understand the value of every human being, and wish to see our prisons transform into opportunities for redemption and change, not just punishment.
To all those who believe in our message, we promise not to let you down.
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