The innocence of childhood is a sweet thing. We believe that there is goodness inside each child that is worth pursuing, even when they make mistakes. But what happens after people age and that innocence has faded? When the sometimes darker reality of the world has taken its place? Are there wrongs that, once committed, are a point of no return?
Is there always still hope for redemption...even in the worst of us?
Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, Cape Town, South Africa is one of the most notorious prisons in the world. Housing the most dangerous and violent offenders, it is dominated by a gang culture that promotes violence and cruelty as the only way of life--the alternative being death.
Jonathan Clayton was incarcerated in the maximum-security block at Pollsmoor from 1988-1991. Fear, loneliness, and seclusion were his constant companions. On March 18, 1991. Jonathan was set free. He knelt down, kissed the entrance grounds of the prison, and vowed never to return.
It was a vow that Jonathan would be unable to keep.
After his release, echoes of his time at the prison were always present. Knowing first hand that even in a community of criminals hope can still occur in the most unlikely place, Jonathan felt called to return to Pollsmoor.
This time it would be on his own terms.
Everyday for the past 20 years, Jonathan Clayton and his wife Jenny have returned to Pollsmoor where he was an inmate, to serve this population of people abandoned and discounted by the rest of society as a lost cause. Believing that the only way to effect real and lasting change in this type of culture is for prisoners to undergo rehabilitation, Jonathan developed and implemented a voluntary program for offenders entitled “Restorative Justice.”
During eight weeks of intensive training, 25 inmates must come to terms with the reality and impact of the crimes they’ve committed. This includes facing the consequences that their actions had on the victims and the victims’ families, as well as the impact their crimes had on their own families. After completing the course, the offenders and victims sit down face-to-face with an opportunity for dramatic healing and restoration.
Intricately woven around the personal story of Jonathan and his wife, Jenny Clayton, POLLSMOOR will follow the rehabilitation process of five prisoners as they work through the Restorative Justice program. Getting to know these individuals--their history, their experience, their struggle to find redemption-- is an opportunity to witness what it means to seek restoration when there has been so much injustice.
The story of POLLSMOOR has an opportunity to impact people all across the world through film screenings and dialogue. Through it, perhaps we will find new pathways towards redemption. Because this isn’t just a story about a prison in South Africa. It is a story about humanity. About finding forgiveness and healing, even after we have collected so many scars.
It is about learning to hope in one another again.
With the permission of Hope Prison Ministry and the Pollsmoor Prison Commissioner already secured, we have unprecedented access behind the walls of Pollsmoor and a base-camp for production in Cape Town.
This series follows the journey & development of a core group of 2-3 Victims and Offenders who are starting the Restorative Justice Process — preparing for their face-to-face Victim-Offender Dialogue. Each episode centers around a different viewpoint or person engaged in the process. Relevant & important historical and cultural topics are woven throughout the narrative.
Episode 1 centers around Jonathan’s personal story & the Restorative Justice program. It culminates in the first introduction to the key victims and offenders.
Episode 2 centers on the offenders, their backstory, and their pathways into lives of crime. This epidsode will delve into the severity of their crimes and track their path to incarceration.
Episode 3 centers on volunteers working with the offenders & their process of connecting to victims.
Episode 4 centers on the victim: their memory of the crime and the devastating effects on their lives. It will follow the journey through their grief and trauma.
Episode 5 centers on the Battle: the challenges the RJ team faces, people who distrust the process, red tape standing in the way of the process, and the difficulty many offenders face in truly changing their lives -- will they really be able to change?
Every episode builds to the final climax where the offender sits down face-to-face with their victim(s) and the victim’s family. Episode 6 is the culmination of a long, difficult process.
At One:Eight Productions, we believe this is a story the world needs to hear. It is not a story about prisoners, it is a story about people-- about mending each other, believing in each other, and requiring the best from each other. We’ve witnessed first hand the positive effect that rehabilitation through programs such as Restorative Justice can have on inmates. And we are confident that it is worth the work.
The crew is in place and the story is ready to be shared! Our goal is to raise $50,000 (USD) which will fund the onsite production-related costs for the pilot episode of this series. Your generous support will help us offset the cost of our crew, travel, lodging, equipment, travel insurance, hard drives and more. Here's a breakdown:
Anything raised above and beyond our goal will be poured into additional phases and post-production costs like music licensing, graphics, color grading, and sound design. With your help we can take this series from concept to reality!
If you have made it this far, you are probably wondering who is taking on this project. Well, meet our team:
Allan and Patty Thompson are award winning filmmakers who established One:Eight Productions in 2011 with the purpose of telling meaningful, true stories that would connect people across town and across the globe; equipping people who care about social impact to bring change to their corner of the world. They bring their unique blend of journalistic reporting and compassionate filmmaking to every film they create in order to build a bridge between the inspiring and the uninspired.
As a Los Angeles based Producer, Stormie Dorrell seeks out stories that will impact audiences in lasting and meaningful ways. Most recently, she produced media content for Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular which premiered at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in June of 2016. Simultaneously, The Awakening of the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom also premiered. This show features 4 animated short films that awaken the spirit of the animals carved into the Tree of Life nightly for park guests. Stormie oversaw content production, seeing the projects through from early concept to opening day.
Dustin Miller is one of those weirdly gifted individuals that the rest of us tend to envy. He has a natural instinct for capturing the beauty of the world around us and translating that on screen. His passion for creating emotionally connective imagery results in stunning content that visually engages people and sweeps them deeply into a story.
Mark Kohl is a successful, innovative, cutting-edge Director and Cinematographer in the world of television and feature films. He has shot features for Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope production company and served as the Director of Photography on Aaron Spelling’s “Safe Harbor”. In addition Mark has directed and shot over 130 episodes of “America’s Most Wanted”, lensed over 15 films such as “Lonely Hearts” with John Travolta and James Gandolfini and HBO’s “Recount” with Kevin Spacey and Dennis Leary. In between, Mark Kohl has managed to deliver more than 2000 commercials to hundreds of agencies and clients such as McDonald’s, Honda, Ford, AT&T, Pizza Hut, Carnival Cruise Lines and Dick’s Sporting Good’s.
Thank you for your time and consideration, please do not hesitate to ask us if you have any questions! It will be because of generous, kind, loving, awesome, incredible people like you that this film becomes a reality! Thanks for being the very best!
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