Thinking “Inside the Box” – a request for practitioners

World Cast Movie seeks prison arts practitioners who see the possibility of including prison performers in its worldwide film project.

We have launched an open casting call for actors around the globe to fill the shoes of 12 roles for our film. The initial idea was inspired by the opportunity to give talented actors who did not live in traditional film industry hubs such as New York or LA, and who did not have agents, a fair chance to be considered. A chance to let talent be talent, no matter where one was located.

Here’s how our basic plan with non-prison performers works: Any actor on the planet can record a monologue from the script on their camera phones, and submit to us it for consideration. Those that are cast will be sent a small blue screen film studio with lights, camera and microphone, that requires approximately 10-15 square feet of space. The actor will set up the studio according to simple instructions, place and operate the camera according to simple instructions, and act in front of the blue screen while being directed live via an online video conference. Depending on the role, these sessions would take anywhere from 4 hours to 2-3 days of longer sessions. They send us the footage to edit into our movie, and they keep the equipment as their initial payment.

While the logistics are certainly not as casual for performers within the prison system, we still see a world of possibility. We imagine that some prison facilities are equipped with secure rooms that could be set up with the blue screen, and that supervised recording sessions would be possible under certain conditions. The blue screen studio would be donated to the prison facilities, not to the prison performer him or herself, we imagine.

The required setup would be a recorded audition of a one minute monologue from the script. If selected to be a part of the cast, the prison performer would of course receive the script well in advance in order to do as much preparatory work on their own time as they like. We would prefer to have a 2 hour block in which the prison performer would have access to a webcam for an online “table reading” with all of the cast members from around the world. Then, lastly, the prison performer would be scheduled for their filming sessions – with a one-one-one webcam line with the director – under whatever safety conditions are required.

While we have been aware of prison arts programs for a long time, and highly respect their goals and efficacy, we don’t have any direct experience with them whatsoever. We have our dreams, but we simply don’t have the practical knowledge to understand how realistic, or perhaps how unrealistic, they are.

If there are any prison arts practitioners who see potential for this within any of the programs they work with, please feel free to get in touch. We’d be more than happy to hash out the details and see if some sort of collaboration is possible.

In any case, we wish you all the very best, and keep up the terrific work, everybody!

Ryan James