By Troy Williams
Twenty-five years ago my mind did not fully grasp a connection to all of humanity. I could neither recognize potential nor power in the image that I viewed in the mirror. This hurt, angry and misguided child, traumatized by a host of environmental failures, was a lost-boy in America.
Fifteen years ago my mind did not fully comprehend a purpose in life. I lacked the knowledge, wherewithal and support needed to transcend the conditioned responses shaped within me from adolescence. Still hurt and angry, this confused young man stood at a crossroad with a vision for change but ultimately chose a selfdestructive path as a means to get there. Less than one year ago I was completely disconnected from the means and resources required to fulfill the vision expressed in this article.
Today, it is with great honor, humility and acknowledgement of purpose that I introduce myself as a writer and filmmaker.
I’ve written several short stories and movies scripts. Thanks to the collective imagination of visionaries, I’ve been given a second chance to mend some of the wounds caused by an unwise crossroad decision.
I often use script development as a way of expressing the creative voice of my imagination. Many writers use different methods to develop a story. I would like to take you on a journey through one of the processes I’ve used to draft a script for a docudrama.
Before we begin, let me walk you through a few preliminaries. A docudrama is a documentary type film that utilizes renactments of real life events. I’ve got a feel for an interesting story, its contradictions, its characters and their conflicts. I’ve thought about structure, meaning, and how everything changes over time. I’m ready to take a few notes.
This story is based, in large part, on individual life experiences. In essence, what I present here is a point of view that expresses a vision for transcendence.
The main ideas are framed in the form of questions the film will attempt to answer. Can the School of Hard Knocks produce fruit? How can the imagination be used to reconnect fallen fruit to the tree of humanity?
The binding thread that will run through this film is the concept of imagination. Lesson Six of Napoleon Hill’s book entitled “The Law of Success” begins as follows: “IMAGINATION is the workshop of the human mind wherein old ideas and established facts may be reassembled into new combinations and put to new uses.” This film will explore how old ideas and established facts have been reassembled, through the workshop of human minds, into new combinations and are now being put to new uses.
After the main ideas have been decided, they must be arranged into sequences. A sequence is “a series of shots joined by some common elements.”
*Central Idea: We see innocent children playing in a park, adolescents standing on an urban city street corner, news reports of crime levels, robbery up, murder rate up, education spending down, high school drop outs increased. The central idea that the writer wants to make is that our innocent children are being failed. Children are being left behind.
*Setting: We see a corporate board room, a prison yard, college classrooms barbed wire, camera equipment, school corridor, and video editing suite. Here the attempt is to link prison with the elements of a college that prepares individuals for the corporate world.
*Action: An inmate leaves a prison cell, checks in with the guard at a desk, walks into a video production class, greets his friends.
*Mood: Transformation has begun. Camera crews are filming. Inmates dialogue with at-risk youth via cinematic expressions about the consequences of negative behavior. Film screenings and focus groups are conducted. A teenager stands at a fork in a road. Here, the binding element is not just films but also the transcendence and positive attitude of the people and the setting.
Reenactments will also be used to unify the sequences and emphasize perspectives.
The chronological progression of this film will be used to show the development of character over time, trials, and tribulation, how the face of prison culture has changed at San Quentin, and how the old ideas of behavior modification and cinematography have been reassembled into a new combination called Positive Image Modification.
Elements of a search motif are also included in the logical progression of this film. There is a deliberate exploration of discovery and inquiry into the effects of Positive Image Modification. The goal is to find solutions to the violence that plagues our communities.
The use of imagination is critical in visualization. The dictionary definition of imagination is, “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality. Visualization is the act or process of putting these mental images into visible form.
Here is where we consider the many possibilities of the visual interpretation of a point to be made in a sequence.
For example, the picture of KeKe standing in front of a row of obituaries accompanied by the following audio:
“Wise Up. It Ain’t Worth It.”
This visual is an example of positive change in Mr. Markee Carter and it exemplifies the concept of Positive Image Modification. He is a man who has lived of the brink of self-destruction, sharing the wisdom of his experiences, in essence holding up a sign that reads, “Stop. Wrong way. Do not enter.”
This film keeps in mind the cultural and emotional resonance of visualization.
1. Hip hop artist Lazarus (Marvin Mitchell) and Black Myth (Henry Montgomery) sit on a prison yard discussing life.
2. Two young men get into an argument over a CD player. Several other men join in on each side and everybody squares off to do battle.
3. Lazarus and Black Myth intervene with some conscious hip hop lyrics before the men come to blows. “Take two steps to the left to elude death. It’s roulette out in them streets so who’s next. You choose best to leave the block and lose less than those dudes who bust shots and use meth.”
4. Prison riot diverted. The men come together and settle their differences like thinking men.
The cultural and emotional resonance here takes us back to a time when hip hop was an endeavor of consciousness.
The opening of a film must hook the audiences’ attention and quickly define what the film is going to be about.
This film will open with a re-dramatization sequence. A small child witnesses violence in the street as he walks home from school, his parents argue and fight in the home as he watches violence on television. The scene cuts to a takeover robbery. Several young men enter a place of business waving guns. “Everybody down. This is a robbery!” Sounds of police sirens echo in the background. These visuals are accompanied by personal testimony . “November 14, 1994, I was arrested on a 28-count criminal complaint that stemmed from a botched takeover robbery. Facing life in prison, I made a commitment to change. And I did change. January 27, 1995, all charges were dismissed.” The scene dissolves to a man talking to a classroom full of students. “If I could do it all over again, I would of done things differently. I would have made different choices. Now, it’s time to give back. We can take our experiences and create cinematic expressions that others can learn from so they don’t have to make the same mistakes we did.”
The title that appears over the man connecting an external microphone to a camera is: Re-Connected.
In order for the rhythm pace of this endeavor to be maintained, it is critical for all members of society to come together collectively as a network. So, whether it’s a yard full of convicts who, when the clock strikes 6:10 p.m. on June 18, stop what they are doing and raise their hands in support of Silence the Viotive lence Day. Or documenting how, after a prison riot, OGs formed a Day of Peace Committee that works to prevent violence. Or the making of a TRUST documentary that reflects the struggle of the work needed to be done. We need and appreciate your continued support. After all the negative press that presents prisoners as monsters it is important that intellectuals give balance to those images youth will model.
Also in the works is a presidential town-hall meeting for the purpose of forming human to human connections in order to explore the fears and possibilities surrounding what may very well be America’s first African American president. Viewers will see the prison population as a microcosm of America. Through a prisoners perspective the nation will realize how far we have come and how far we need to go. We hope to relay a message of who we think would best serve our disenfranchised communities.
In reality, the climax of this program is only reached with change in our communities. But for the purposes of the film we will end showing youth developing their own cinematic expressions and dialogue that bear witness to positive Image Modification. After all, everybody has a story to tell.
Today , I’m RECONNECTED because today I have a sense of purpose. I have a sense of who I am. I have a clear sense of direction. Thanks to the collective effort of visionaries, I can say that I have produced several short movies.
The message to be learned and presented in this article is that film discovers how the workshop of the human minds have been key instruments for reconnecting fallen fruit to the tree of humanity
By Troy Williams