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Health Awareness for the Incarcerated.

Short Documentary

Completed on:



Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA



Session 5 - Saturday 12:00-2:30pm





South Dakota Inmates


South Dakota Inmates


South Dakota Inmates

Key Cast

South Dakota Inmates

Other Credits


This is an inmate written, produced and directed film/video about high cholesterol in prisons. This documentary was created as part of a project for the justice impacted inside the prison walls to educate and take care of each other. These inmates built their own studio inside the prison and taught themselves how to use it. They also taught themselves how to write, animate and do voiceovers in order to make movies to teach each other the skills to do "good time" and leave the lives that brought them into prison. Their films are usually shown only on the prison channel. This attempt at a showing is an attempt to show the general public what they are doing in order to gain more public support and help them to improve their craft. It is submitted by their chaplain.

Statement from Filmmaker

Thank you for selecting our animated short film Health Awareness for the Incarcerated to show at this year's South Dakota Film Festival. This is both the first production we created and our first film festival so we are very surprised, excited and honored to be a part of it. Like so many aspects of this endeavor we had no idea there even was a South Dakota Film Festival until our mentor Lawrence Diggs told us about it and asked us if we wanted to submit something we made. It is our privilege to have him act as our proxy since we are unable to be there in person, for obvious reasons. Mr. Diggs is an excellent fit as a proxy since he knows all the ins and outs of SPIN and the Compassionate Outreach Group and more importantly knows us and what we are trying hard to achieve with them. So please feel free to ask him any questions after he reads our statement.

Crazy enough this project just kind of fell in our lap! A couple of us were preparing for a speaker presentation in the prison chapel when Ashley Campbell of the Department of Corrections Health Services approached us about producing something to help educate the guys about basic healthcare topics. Neither of us had experience producing something creative like this from the ground up. It sounded challenging and we were excited for the opportunity to do something different to help break up the monotony of prison life. We knew we needed help, so we gathered a few others that we knew that would be just as excited to help. That is how SPIN Productions was raised from the ashes after lying dormant for decades.

All of us were new to the process of planning out a production. Writing a script, breaking it down, operating A/V equipment, learning animation, graphic & editing software and then putting it altogether into a finished product, it was all on the job training. Those were some of the best parts of the project. Learning new skills, delegating tasks and working together as a team has been a tremendous growth opportunity for all of us. Luckily the prison administration liked what we did, so we developed four more.

So, what message or statement did we want to make? First, we wanted to instill the importance for the incarcerated to take their health seriously. There is a general attitude from those behind bars that nobody cares about them so why should they care about themselves? We often ignore serious health symptoms until it is too late, therefore we wanted to educate everyone in a fun & familiar way to get them to take their health seriously. The other message was a more subtle one. We wanted to show everyone, (incarcerated, prison administration and now the public) that we still have a voice and want to make a difference. That voice or message can be very potent and creative if given the opportunity and tools to do so. Too often people that are incarcerated are forgotten; however the majority will return to society -- as your neighbors. Our hope is that those in society would see us as people and remember that we have a lot of positive potential. The SPIN crew and the Compassionate Outreach Group work hard to help educate, inform and heal people; creating good neighbors, whether they are behind bars or out in the South Dakota community.

Since Health Awareness for the Incarcerated we have taken advantage of our new found trust and publicity by racing to make as much content as we can to help educate, inspire and expand the minds of the incarcerated to help reduce South Dakota's incarceration rate, which is the highest rate per capita in the world. We have started the Family Connection Reading Program, where we record the incarcerated reading to their children helping them stay connected to their loved-ones and promoting literacy. There are two Compassionate Outreach Group video podcasts ready to launch. Compassionate COGs in the Community where we highlight people that use their compassionate hearts to make a difference in their community and Bridging the Divide Through Creativity where we interview creatives to speak and showcase their work in order to highlight the importance the arts play in cultivating healing, transformation and understanding, both behind prison walls and outside of them.

The last thing we would like to address is the question that was in the packet asking what project we would do if we had unlimited resources. We thought..."this is a fun question; what would we do?" Especially since the real project we are working on is helping the incarcerated return to society and be successful. With that in mind resources is such an interesting term. We assume for most people participating in this festival it means money & time. Time is something we have an abundance of and money is a nonissue due to no budget being provided by the Department of Corrections and most of the things we have were donated to us.

What we consider resources are things like increased buy-in or interest from the prison administration and our local community. This would allow us to expand and turn SPIN Productions into a program where we can train more people how to work as a team to write & plan a project. The technical skills of graphic design, video & audio production & editing, and how to tell their story. All of which are useful skills to rely on when they get out. Community and prison buy-in would also help us dive deeper into reentry services, felon-friendly housing and employment opportunities which also helps to educate the incarcerated so they have a better chance of succeeding when they leave. Through SPIN we could also help promote these same organizations so they benefit on the outside as well. In this aspect it would be helpful to get updated "resources". To reiterate this is less to do about money and more about increased prison administration & community buy-in. Gaining their time, expertise and guidance is the best resource we can think of for SPIN and the Compassionate Outreach Group.

Thank you again for letting us participate in the South Dakota Film Festival and for hearing us by letting Mr. Diggs read this statement to you in place of us being there. It has been a high-point in many of our lives, if time allows Mr. Diggs will answer any further questions.

The SPIN Production Crew
Shane Blake, Christopher Hartford, Joseph Helmer, Jon Jolley, Dalton Lenger, Frederick McAbee & Anthony Pritchard

Student Film


First Time Filmmaker


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