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On February 12, 2020, 23 Crew Members, including Academy-Award nominated Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto, Producer Monica Chiapa, Grammy-Award winning producer Fritzi Horstman, producers Vivianne Nacif and Ted Kamp began filming the documentary “Step Inside the Circle,” a penetrating examination of how childhood trauma is one of the key factors behind America’s levels of incarceration.

Filmed at a maximum security prison in Lancaster, California, the focus of the day was filming the Compassion Trauma Circle where 235 incarcerated men stepped inside the circle for each traumatic event they experience in their childhood, roughly based on the Adverse Childhood Experiences survey created by Dr. Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Many of the men and women who are incarcerated aren’t aware of their Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Compassion Trauma Circle is one of the ways to raise awareness about what happens when the brain and body are traumatized before the age of 18. What naturally follows is an urgent call to change how we treat and care for individuals who are traumatized, 95% of whom will become our neighbors and community members again once they leave prison. 

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Watch the Documentary PSAs

Those who have experienced the Compassion Trauma Circle and have learned about the symptoms of trauma feel a sense of relief and self-forgiveness. It has given them understanding about their past behavior and opens a doorway to forgiveness, making amends and healing.

The first PSA is a call to action: to spread the word about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), to understand the physical, emotional and social impact ACEs have wrought on our society and to stress the importance of care (not punishment) going forward in the carceral system. The second PSA, Honor Yard, describes the impact of childhood trauma.

PSA 1: Step Inside The Circle

PSA 2: Honor Yard

You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you and allowing that goodness to emerge.

Eckhart Tolle

Our filming goals include...

  • Interviews with Trauma Experts, Doctors and Neuroscientists who will give us the game-changing information about how trauma affects the brain and body
  • Interviews with the men and women who are currently incarcerated
  • Interviews with CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) leaders
  • Film the Compassion Trauma Circle in a women's prison, with correctional officers, first responders and in other community-based organizations

The Crew

DIRECTOR/EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Fritzi Horstman

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Samual N. Brown

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Monica Chiapa

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Vivianne Nacif

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Ted Kamp

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Jamilia Land

SUPERVISING PRODUCER
Ian Villatoro

SUPERVISING PRODUCER
Paul Gonzales

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Rodrigo Prieto

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Jac Cheairs

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Nicolas Aguilar

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Clay Westervelt

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Dominic Rubino

FIRST ASSITANT CAMERA
Trevor Loomis

ASSISTANT CAMERA
Connor Lambert

ASSISTANT CAMERA
Matthew Cabinum

ASSISTANT CAMERA
Jordan Oglesby

ASSISTANT CAMERA
Tyler Andrews

CAMERA LOADER
Mike Prior

2ND ASSISTANT CAMERA
Chris Sloan

KEY GRIP
Ryan McGuire

GAFFER
Josh Davis

SWING
Noah Hopper

SOUND MIXER
José García

SOUND MIXER
Mike Hammeke

BOOM OPERATOR
Jonathan Fuh

SOUND ASSISTANT
Lucas Garcia

BEHIND THE SCENES
Ximera Prieto

BEHIND THE SCENES
Maria Prieto

EDITOR
Kip Wood

COMPOSER
Fabian Russ

VFX ARTIST
James Bannon-Schneebeck

RE-RECORDING MIXER 
Bill Komar

RE-RECORDING MIXER 
Charles Dayton

Donate Today

CPP is a not-for-profit, grassroots-based organization. Big changes are made in small steps and we value the amount of every donation. Your contribution directly supports CPP's projects to achieve its mission to transform prisons and communities through compassionate action. All donations are tax deductible. Please consider donating today.

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