Five years ago I was a very different person. Well, that’s not strictly true, I had been a very different person and had slowly, over the course of 9 or 10 months gone back to who I always used to be, silly, sarcastic, a teller of rubbish jokes, much more confident and comfortable in my own skin. You wouldn’t think a prison sentence would do that to you. Then in September of 2006 I was allowed out on day release to work in Shoreditch for Inside Job Productions, a new production company started off the back of a successful media course delivered in HMP Downview to around 20 women. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and did very well, obtaining a distinction overall and was lucky enough to be employed as IJP’s very first Production Assistant. No one really knew what that would mean, so we pretty much made it up as we went along, and over the years as PAs have come and gone the job has evolved. You can find out more about IJP here.
It hardly seems possible that it was 5 years ago that we celebrated the launch of IJP in a swanky bar just off Fleet Street. The prosecco flowed a little too freely (though not to us prisoners), Adam Shaw of Working Lunch looked a little unsure as to why he was there (it was probably because Adrian Chiles wasn’t available, not that anyone had heard of him then what with it being pre-One Show days and all), and Ed Miliband thankfully didn’t mention strikes being wrong. A prison officer we didn’t even know made a bit of a tit of themselves but apart from that a high old time was had by all. I made a comic about it. I like making comics.
I hope Ed Miliband doesn’t see it (as if!).
Today a much smaller group of us gathered in a bar in Hoxton to celebrate 5 years of film making and 5 years of changing the lives of prisoners. I made a special cake to mark the occasion (it was HUGE) and amazingly we managed to easily demolish half of it.
I caught up with people I haven’t seen since I left prison, met new people that did the PA job after me and we all had a great chinwag about all aspects of how it has helped us become the people we are today, and how being a part of it changed our lives. All in all it was a flipping brilliant day