case study: Concrete & Sunshine Documentary

Investigation and communication of the direct and external impact of California's prison system

  • qualitative research and analysis
  • documentary filmmaking
  • grant writing
  • creative practice
  • ethnography/social intervention

A documentary that started as an outreach tool for prisoner rights group grew into a deeper investigation into California’s prison system and the motivation to shift from public good projects to prison industrial complex expansion. The resulting 60-minute documentary, Concrete & Sunshine, combined analysis and interviews to convey the impact this direction has on the state’s residents and communities.

I conducted extensive research on incarceration, the prison system and expansion in California and nationwide, the transformation of rural communities who welcomed new prison construction from an economic development stand point and the impact politically and economically driven factors had on the lives of those incarcerated and their family members.

The centerpiece of the documentary was California’s use of solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison. I trace the history of solitary confinement and raise questions regarding the potential human rights violation. I conducted interviews inside Pelican Bay with those housed in solitary, in order to provide a first-hand glimpse at the physical and psychological toll of this type of incarceration.

The documentary has screened in domestic and  international venues and is currently distributed by the International Film Network.