I am filmmaker James Burns. I voluntarily spent a month in solitary confinement and live streamed it on VICE - AMA!
My name is James Burns, I'm a director and producer from Brooklyn, NY. Last month, I voluntarily entered into solitary confinement in Arizona's La Paz County Jail where I stayed for 30 days. While inside, VICE live streamed every moment on their YouTube channel. I got out last week and am now back home in New York. I wanted to do this project to start a conversation about the merits of the continued use of solitary confinement in the U.S., as well as to show the day-to-day and passage in solitary in a way that's never been seen before.
This project was a personal one for me and was based on my own experiences in solitary confinement. When I was a teenager, I went to prison for armed robbery and did multiple stints in solitary confinement — the longest one lasting eleven consecutive months. After leaving prison, I got my life on track and started pursuing a career as a filmmaker. My first short documentary, "We Live This," took the Special Jury Mention at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. Currently, I'm finishing My directorial feature debut, Revolving Doors, profiling three men in Baltimore at various stages of the criminal justice system. I've also worked extensively with VICE in recent years, producing and directing documentaries on modern-day debtors prisons, the bail bonds industry, the ongoing Hepatitis C epidemic in West Virginia, and more.
I'm excited to be here and answer any questions about my project, prison reform, and more. Ask me anything!