Firstwatch is the first project of its kind, which started in San Quentin State Prison. From pre-production to post-production, the producers, cameramen, photographers, editors, sound designers, writers, and journalist are all currently incarcerated. In an effort to humanize the people incarcerated, the films created explore the truth about life inside.
We, incarcerated men, film life inside these walls. FirstWatch is the first project of its kind: we are the producers, cameramen, photographers, editors, sound designers, writers, and journalists. From pre-production to post-production, the FirstWatch team creates every single piece ourselves while serving time inside San Quentin State Prison. In an effort to humanize incarceration, the series explores how accountability and rehabilitation open the potential for healing and restoration.
The “first watch” in prison is the graveyard shift when we are put away in our cells for the remainder of the night until morning. Correctional officers periodically check in on us by flashing a light into our cells to make sure we’re still alive. We’ve made this “FirstWatch” our own, checking in on ourselves and flashing a light on our lives, a life kept away from society. FirstWatch is our narrative of our world, told from our perspective. First watch, then judge.
We are not men who kill each other, secretly pass knives and contraband, plot against one another or conspire attacks on guards. We are not men who deny our crimes or who claim innocence. We are men who try hard, stay up at night doing college essays under a dim TV light, or sometimes in the dark, out of respect for our cellies, stealing slivers of light coming off the tiers.
We are men who are punctual for our self-help groups, men who share our traumas with words and tears. We empathize with deep breaths and sighs and hugs and offerings of canteen snacks for support. We are men who hold ourselves and each other accountable for the crimes we’ve committed and for the grief we’ve forced upon innocent people and their families.
We are men who are ambitious about finding ways to give back to society. With the desire to contribute to our communities, we share our stories from inside these walls.
Typically on Valentine’s Day some people measure the value of “love” by the value of a gift. For the men currently incarcerated, gift giving is far more sentimental and creative. This short film highlights how human connectivity is a gift you can’t put a price on.
Needless to say, incarceration is very stressful for the person that’s incarcerated as well as that person’s loved ones. Unfortunately that stress intensifies when you’re a parent seperated from your child. Some might believe incarcerated parents have a bad reputaion and wouldn’t really want to be a parent. See first hand what its like to be a father parenting while incarcerated.
It’s far too common to see violence, ignorance, and/or many other dehumanizing depictions of people incarcerated in the media. This is a look through the eyes of Lawerence when he was still incarcerated, allowing all to see What he seen on a regular basis.
Gardening in a prison? People find many ways to find healing, growth, and restoration. Sometimes those ways are healthy, sometimes they aren’t so healthy, no matter where they are (free or incarcerated). Tending to a garden in San Quentin State Prison became a part of Jeff’s journey. Witness how impactful it can be when afforded the opportunity to healthy outlets for growth, healing, and restoration.
We teach each other, read books, study commercials, documentaries, and TV shows counting how long each clip lasts, taking notes on unique camera angles, observe creative use of B-Roll, discuss and analyze the visual artistry of last night’s episode, and usually, we learn by trial and error.