filmmaker requesting letters of interest

Jeffrey W. Pearson (
Mon, 26 Aug 2002 08:43:58 -0700 (PDT)

An instructor at the University of Michigan, Buzz Alexander, is
seeking funding from the Ruth Mott Foundation (based in Flint,
Michigan), for a video documentary about the production of a play put
on by ex-convicts. The Mott foundation has asked for expressions of
interest as a prerequisite to consider a grant. Please skim the
letter below, originally sent to First Run/Icarus asking them if they
would be interested in distributing the video (they are), for details
about the project and video. If the video sounds like something you
would consider for your video libraries, and would like to help with
Buzz's effort to request funding, please send an email expressing
interest directly to Buzz. Unfortunately, he is under a strict
deadline, and needs to receive emails by Thursday of this week. Thank

Buzz Alexander
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
English Language and Literature Dept.

Here is a portion of Buzz's letter to First Run/Icarus describing the project:

....I'm the founder of an organization called the Prison
Creative Arts Project. Since 1990 we have co-created with prisoners 146
original plays in 18 Michigan state prisons, 85 plays in four juvenile
facilities, and 59 plays in three Detroit high schools. We have curated
seven annual Exhibitions of Art by Michigan Prisoners - the last had 160
artists from 38 state prisons showing 260 works of art, 72 percent of the
artists with work for sale sold at least one piece (funds went to them, we
don't take anything), and 2,821 people passed through the gallery in 12
days. And more. We have a linkage project which links up artists,
writers, actors, we've worked with in prisons and juvenile facilities with
community arts mentors when they return home.

Okay, getting to the documentary. We have a grant from the Michigan
Association of Community Arts Agencies for a Director in Residence. We
have Gillian Eaton, a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. She
is working with five members of our organization (I am one of them) and
four former prisoners, three of whom were in our theater workshops in
prison and one of whom was in our annual exhibition twice. We are building
a play based on our experiences inside and outside of prison. The stories
are very powerful, and we're planning to involve the audience in ways that
help them think of themselves as resources for people getting out of
prison. After the performances (in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Plymouth and
more), we will have discussions, including experts/advocates for the return
of programs to prisons and experts/advocates for community support of
returning prisoners (and we're heading into years of massive return, as a
lot of the LONG sentences of the 80s and early 90s begin to end).

We have applied to the Ruth Mott Foundation (they are based in Flint,
and three of our four actors are Flint natives, it turns out) for money to
support the production a little, but mostly to fund a documentary about the
play which will also include the play. We have asked Bill Harder and Fran
Victor (Victor/Harder Productions) to make the documentary. They have
worked with us before, making a video version of "Inside Out," a play
conceived by the men at the Western Wayne Correctional Facility for high
risk youth, a video that we used in interactive discussion between the
incarcerated actors and incarcerated youth and that had some small
distribution. Fran and Bill have built a great reputation since that time,
having worked on the Shoah Project and recently having won a Michigan Emmy
and just a couple of months ago the CINE Golden Eagle for "In an Instant,"
their documentary on the experiences of burn victims.

Jeffrey W. Pearson			Phone: (734) 763-3758
Librarian, Film & Video Library		Fax: (734) 764-7087
University of Michigan			e-mail:
Shapiro Library, Room 2178
919 S. University
Ann Arbor MI 48109-1185