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Prison Videos2019-08-22T11:48:01-07:00

Previous Filmmakers from San Quentin State Prison

We are thrilled that all members of FIRSTWATCH were commuted by Governor Jerry Brown in 2018. Shadeed returned home in August 2018, Adnan while commuted in December 2018, he was the first person re-sentenced under SB1437 and returned home in January 2019 . Lawrence returned home in July 2019 and James is returning home in the next couple of months.

Meet Adnan Khan
Meet Shadeed Wallace-Stepter
Meet Lawrence Pela
Meet James King

A Word From the Men

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 Films

Valentine's Day in Prison

Valentine’s Day in Prison

Parenting in Prison

Parenting in Prison

Cellfie

Cellfie

The PB&J Sandwich

The PB&J Sandwich

My Eyes ft. Lawrence

My Eyes ft. Lawrence

Jeff's Garden

Jeff’s Garden

Kell's Story

Kell’s Story

Why You Should Be a Chef ft. Niccola

Why You Should Be a Chef ft. Niccola

Father's Day: Phil's Story

Father’s Day: Phil’s Story

Jeff's Garden

Cellfie: The Big Move ft. Choy

Father's Day: Curtis's Story

Father’s Day: Curtis’s Story

Accountability: Choy

Accountability: Choy

Accountability: Adnan

Accountability: Adnan

Accountability: Antwan

Accountability: Antwan

Upu's Story

Upu’s Story

The Bet ft. The Golden State Warriors

The Bet ft. The Golden State Warriors

Travis's Prison Journey

Travis’s Prison Journey

Phoeun's Prison Journey

Phoeun’s Prison Journey

Lumumba's Prison Journey

Lumumba’s Prison Journey

Lumumba's History

Lumumba’s History

Lawrence's Prison Journey

Lawrence’s Prison Journey

Lumumba's Atlas

Lumumba’s Atlas

The Name

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.

Who We Are

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.

Our Method

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.

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