Local sports film director Liam Hughes visited San Quentin on Oct. 1 to get a sense of how it feels being inside of prison, for a documentary he is planning.
“Thoughts of darkness and the challenges they might face inside of prison were my thoughts, so I wanted to see what it is actually like,” said Hughes in an interview held at the SQ Media Lab.
A former resident of Marin City near SQ, the director said that he always wanted to know what it was like for the people inside of prison and he always wanted to see for himself.
The young director was inspired by a production in the making about an ex-SQ resident athlete, Austin Thurman, who played baseball for the SQ A’s when he was incarcerated. He now plays baseball in Mexico.
The all-incarcerated film crew of Forward This is doing a documentary on the future pro hopeful, titled “Prison to Pros.”
Being an ardent sports enthusiast himself, the director was thrilled when the film crew reached out to his production company, “Religion of Sports,” to be a part of the creation.
“Brandon (a Forward This crew member) reached out to me and I liked the idea. I thought that it would be a cool idea to change the people’s perspective of the incarcerated,” said Hughes.
Perspective is something outside volunteer and longtime baseball Head Coach Steve Reichardt has had since he started frequenting the prison in 2008.
“Since I love baseball and people, if I can put a smile on the guys faces for a couple hours, it’s all worth it to me,” said Reichardt.
He is a San Francisco resident who has no kids of his own, but said the men inside the prison are like his kids, especially Thurman. Reichardt took a special interest in Thurman after noticing his skill set.
“I made it my job to try and bridge the gap for him from the inside to the outside, to give him an opportunity to play some outside baseball,” said Reichardt.
Outside people are quick to recognize the unique potential that comes from behind prison walls. In 2017 ex-Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant and other sports film directors came inside the prison and produced an Espy-nominated documentary called Q Ball (Quentin Ball).
That basketball film highlighted a few guys’ stories on the inside who have since paroled and gone on to have productive lives.
Many celebrities and sports stars have frequented the prison, including San Francisco 49er great Ronnie Lott, the San Francisco Warriors General Manager Bob Myers, and many others from soccer, tennis and track.
“I think it’s a really inspiring story of a returned citizen, that they can dream big and do big things,” said Hughes.