FAITH in
the
BIG HOUSE

 

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Interview with the Director

Q: What were the noteworthy challenges in the process of filming FITBH?

Over time the prisoners became more revelatory so additional interviews with the same subjects became a necessity. There was some mix of type of origination video format which created lots of pain in the editing room. Matching the audio from a previous interview to one that was done later, or at a different time of day, was an enormous challenge to those who were mixing the sound.

This film relies largely on prisoner created music. The guitar strings they use are worn, and the instruments are fairly dilapidated- whether they are electronic or acoustic. Most have seen years of use in the Chapel. Having good musicians with poor instruments creates difficult conditions. Various companies were able to provide assistance with this hurdle by contributing software, gear, and expertise.

Additionally we were filming in Louisiana at a time that the film industry there was booming. Sometimes we lost whole sections of our crew to Hollywood productions that were shooting in Louisiana at the same time we were. It caused our production to grind to a halt for awhile.

Q: What were the noteworthy advantages in the process of filming FITBH?

Location and the time in which we were filming were on our side. Louisiana was one of the pioneers of the tax kickback to producers filming in the state. People were incredibly collaborative; there was an electricity surrounding film in the state at that time. In our little Parish, we were 45 minutes outside of pre-Katrina New Orleans, half an hour from Baton Rouge, so amenities, urban culture, and rest and relaxation were within reach.

Many prisons are oddly enough almost ideal locations in which to shoot. A prison officer can get your subject to where you are in two minutes and prisoners helped carry and protect gear. We never lost anything, and many of our prison film volunteers were on par with our free world crew.

Today there are prison series and specials covering a range of topics and prison life. Few of these were around when we began filming Faith in the Big House. We preceded much of the shock and reality shows, the inmate population less tainted. Now as inmates watch prison reality shows and get into mocking the dialogue the whole bit becomes more surreal. We achieved a credible purity that is lacking in current productions.

 

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