Making a prison film

Below are contemporaneous writings about how we made a prison documentary while under conviction, and with few resources. The articles below explain various elements of the process, reflections and decisions that were made at the time.

Reflections on filming making the film in the early stages. The question arose of whether we should try to film inside a prison, explaining the decision why we chose note to. Instead, we decided the only film from inside prisons would be footage filmed by prisoners themselves. Find out why here.

Making a documentary usually takes time and resources. The film maker, Lee Salter, is known for making “third cinema” documentaries with few resources. The experience of making Injustice drew on the experiences of making Secret City (about the Corporation of London), and The Fourth Estate (about the British media), which also stoked the ire of its targets. Here you can read about the challenges of making Injustice.

Deciding to make a film about prison and prisoners was made along Lee’s journey and notes he made with characters he met and friends he made along the way. Here you can read about the ghostly experiences and dehumanisation of conviction.

Making a documentary while convicted is difficult. Making it while unemployed, homelessness and isolated made it more so. Yet the conditions of any artistic or creative endeavour reflect back into the product. Here some of the experiences that accompanied the film making process, are gathered together from notes taken at the time.

A note to help those thinking of making a film – always be prepared for things going wrong.

injustice documentary making
The injured camera that filmed injustice

The decision to make a prison documentary was made in the knowledge there would be a backlash. We were thus cautious at every step, so nothing within the film could be considered to reflect on his own case. It was unsurprising that those who hadn’t seen the film assumed its content and portrayed it to be about Lee. Here you can read a response to such allegations.