March 20, 2017
“I had no idea what prison was like.”
When an inmate, a deacon, a Stanford-educated accountant, and an ex-convict biker decided to hold a four-day group therapy event between outsiders and inmates at Folsom Prison, James McLeary, the father of filmmaker Jairus McLeary, was one of the first outsiders invited to join.
His father asked him to attend. Jarius declined. “I had no idea what prison was like, or to be in a room with people who have committed serious crimes,” McLeary told No Film School. Eventually, he felt compelled to understand the men behind bars. “After I did it once, I couldn’t stop doing it, because it was such a pure interface of human beings.”
“Just give up your social life for a couple years, if you have to. Do whatever you’ve got to do to make your film.”