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Still Life (Part 4 of 5)

4 Stories - Many Drugs
2004(c) M.Y FIlms

Still Life Trailer -

This is 1 of 2 projects that I made at HMP Wayland and was the first video project in British prison history to be left totally in the hands of inmates.

I was always curious about seeing what a prison was like on the inside, but I had no intention of visiting one through the normal route, so this project gave me the perfect opportunity, and more importantly, let me leave at the end of the day.

A group of inmates (who went under the name of Rags 2 Riches) wanted to make a drugs awareness video aimed at young people to inform them about the dangers of drug abuse.

Initially Rags 2 Riches wanted to include a fictional story about a drug dealer who was living the high life and then got caught and some cartoons of dragons being chased. However I wasn’t really feeling this approach and I felt that laying out their life stories would be far more effective.

What you’re about to watch is the end result of 10-15 hours of interview footage.
In the end, the only thing that I wasn’t happy with was the almost “cheesy” happy ending.
I haven’t spoken to any of the 4 lads in the film since I finished filming but I’ve got a strong feeling that most of them started to use again.
I originally wanted the happy ending to play out and then tag on some text or a voiceover that explained their fate, providing the audience with a gut punch/kick in the balls at the end - just to show that things don’t always end up nice.
However the facilitator, John Row, felt that this ending was a bit too pessimistic and wouldn’t offer any hope to the young audience. Whereas I felt it was simply being honst with them.

A lot of the cutaways used were taken from my own personal archives, including old holiday footage or random stuff that I’d filmed over the years or footage from other old projects - all recycled to fit the project at hand.

Filming at a prison threw up loads of different obstacles that you’d never think of until you were actually in the situation.
E.g: Security wouldn’t even let me take my camera in until 2-3 weeks into the project.
Somedays, after travelling for about an hour, we’d turn up only to be told that we couldn’t go in as there was a prison-wide lockdown (i.e - all inmates weren’t allowed out of their cells).
Having to edit out really interesting footage that could potentially compromise prison security or portray the prison in a bad light or simply because it was unsuitable for the intended audience.

Even to this day, Still Life is one of my projects that I’m most proud of.

Article in The Guardian on Still Life -

DVD Cover -


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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