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What Happens When You Bring 15 Inmates together with 15 College Students? A documentary about the need for prison education programs. Read more

Atlanta, GA Documentary
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This project was successfully funded on September 8, 2012.

What Happens When You Bring 15 Inmates together with 15 College Students? A documentary about the need for prison education programs.

Atlanta, GA Documentary
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Ralph Culpepper III
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Ralph Culpepper III

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About this project

As an Honors Film major, I intend to combine my interest in mass incarceration, my direct invested involvement with incarcerated individuals through The Georgia State Prison Initiative, and my filmic capacities to produce a quality documentary for my honors thesis project. This quality student produced, directed, and edited 45-minute to 1-hour documentary film will investigate and discuss the societal advantages and ever-growing need for education programs in the U.S. Prison System. The film will do this by focusing on The Georgia State University Prison Initiative, a service-learning project that brings together 15 GSU students (including myself) and 15 volunteer inmates at Philips State Prison just outside of Atlanta in order to study literature, discuss contemporary societal issues, and increase inmate and student literary and social competency.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGTbZSUU1q8&list=HL1343531169&feature=mh_lolz

The film will serve as a cultural text that will amass data through visually documented interviews with the 15 inmates, direct and participant observation of educational instruction and interactive writing workshops at Philips State Prison, visually documented interviews with University experts on mass incarceration and an accompanied written essay/preface analyzing statistical data on the effects of prison education programs.

Through creating an informative and socially conscious visual study on a recent social issue, the goal of my work is to ultimately contribute to the academic and general body of knowledge on mass incarceration and the power of educational opportunities in combating rising recidivism rates while making that knowledge publicly accessible.

This documentary is also intended to shift public perception on the mass incarceration issue from seeing the issues as a “beast that must be tamed” to a “virus that is able to be cured with the right vaccination” (Thibodeau 1).

3 MAIN REASONS WHY SHOULD YOU BACK THIS FILM?

1. One Nation, Behind Bars is an independent film and as a college student I have limited funding for projects. However, the message of this film, the need for a paradigm shift in how to transform inmates, is one that needs to be expressed and I need your help! Ask yourself this question: would I rather inmates to go in prison and come out educated or uneducated?

2. This project has been well planned and will not only give information about the state of mass incarceration, it will also give inmates, many of whom never had equal educational opportunities, a voice. This film is by no means an excuse for inmates. However, it is a way to introduce a more wholesome and effective way to reduce the number of inmates who return to prison and increase the number of inmates who can actually transform and contribute to society. 

3. If the project goal is not met, then the film cannot be made and my thesis will be a failure. 

WHAT YOUR FUNDS WILL GO TOWARD

The funds will go toward three main areas:

1. Equipment: In order for this production to be of great quality, it must be made with quality equipment. This includes, but is not limited to, HD camera, dolly track, tripods, audio-equipment, camera filters, music, etc. 

2. Filming Permits: Because most of the filming will be on-site, there are certain permit costs that need to be paid in order to legally film inside the facility.

3. Travel Expenses: I will be traveling to interview leaders of other programs around the nation similar to GSPI, including The Bard Prison Initiaitve in NY. Moreover, I am in the process of scheduling possible interviews with experts of mass incarceration such as Michelle Alexander and Civil Rights leaders such as Ambassador Andrew Young.

WHO IS WORKING ON THIS FILM?

Ralph Culpepper III 

Ralph is the filmmaker and director of One Nation, Behind Bars and has done short films about the importance of studying abroad while in college. See right-hand side for full bio.
Ralph is the filmmaker and director of One Nation, Behind Bars and has done short films about the importance of studying abroad while in college. See right-hand side for full bio.

Sarah Higinbotham

Sarah is the founder of GSPI
Sarah is the founder of GSPI

Sarah is the founder and director of The Georgia State Prison Initiative. She started teaching in Phillips State Prison in 2009 and since then has grown the program to what it is today. She and Ralph have been working in tandem in order to create a transparent film that powerfully expresses the voices of the inmates she teaches. She has also been vital in linking works such as Foucault's Discipline and Punish which explains the origin of the prison system to contemporary prison issues.

Dr. Ly Bolia

Dr. Bolia is Ralph's personal mentor and faculty director for the thesis.
Dr. Bolia is Ralph's personal mentor and faculty director for the thesis.

Ly Bolia (M.F.A., New York University, 1994) is Assistant Professor of Film/Video, with creative specializations as a writer, director, editor and cinematographer. He is Ralph's personal faculty director and mentor. Bolia’s films have been screened on the Learning Channel, PBS, Comedy Central Network, RDF Media, National Geographic Channel, and at the Lincoln Center. More than thirty film festivals have screened his work, including Atlanta, Santa Fe, Bronx, Birmingham Ala., Sarasota, Chicago, and Sedona Az., where he has won awards for Best Acting, Best Directing, People’s Choice Awards, Best of Character and Best Picture at various festivals. Bolia’s work spans feature films, short films, public service announcements, and political campaign advertisements. His work has been distributed on DVD, and reviewed in Variety Magazine, Hollywood Reporter, Village Voice, TV Guide, Box Office Magazine, Filmmaker Magazine, and Entertainment Today. Research Areas: Cinematography; Film Lighting & Editing. Degree Track Affiliations: Ph.D. (Moving Image Studies), M.F.A., M.A. (Film & Video). Core Graduate Seminars Regularly Taught: Postproduction, Lighting, Cinematography.

GET THE WORD OUT

Tell your friends and family, your co-workers and neighbors! Once you’ve made a donation, send out a message to Facebook friends or on Twitter. Even if you don’t make a donation — if you believe in making a change — please tweet or fb about it.

Quality education should never be held from any person regardless of that person's past. Thank you in advance for your donations.

--Ralph Culpepper III

I WANT TO CONTRIBUTE! HOW DO I PLEDGE?

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If funding does not succeed do backers pay anything?

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    6 backers

    You will receive my full eternal gratitude for making this film possible. Full Bragging Rights--tell friends and family that YOU helped to get the message out about educational solutions for mass incarceration and recidivism.

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    Pledge $25 or more

    14 backers

    Digital download of completed film and be listed on the "Thank You" list on my webpage.

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    Pledge $50 or more

    8 backers

    Digital Download of completed film and special behind the scenes video made exclusively for this Kickstarter Campaign!

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    Pledge $75 or more

    1 backer

    "FREEING MINDS" T-Shirt with the Film's Theme

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    Pledge $100 or more

    1 backer

    Full DVD of Film with Bonus Features such as full interviews with Philips State Prison Inmates. Freeing Minds T-Shirt, special thanks from the director, name in film credits!

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    Pledge $150 or more

    1 backer

    Digital download of completed film and name listed in actual film credits.

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    1 backer

    DVD Poster plus all of the above!

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    Pledge $500 or more

    1 backer

    DVD Package: BONUS FOOTAGE, Extra Scenes unavailable elsewhere, exclusive interview with the filmmaker, and invited dinner with Filmmaker.

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Funding period

- (52 days)