Interview with Filmmaker John Redlinger (OUR VOICE NOW)

OUR VOICE NOW, 56min., Documentary
Directed by John Redlinger
An in-depth examination of youth incarceration and probation in Los Angeles County. The film highlights organizations such as The Arts for Healing and Justice Network and the Antirecidivism Coalition, as well as testimonials from real victims of the justice system.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

My producing partner and I were approached by one of the organizations highlighted in the documentary, AHJN, to create a short film in response to a propaganda piece put out by LA’s probation department. In truth, this issue was not on our radar… but after we watched the probation video (which was utter nonsense) and spent some time researching the current state of affairs, we were moved to action.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

“Our Voice Now” was originally conceived as a short film — no more than 12-15 minutes. But we knew after just our first day of interviews there were far too many voices that needed to be amplified to do justice in such a short time-frame. It sounds like a cliche, but we allowed the material (and interviewees) to guide us. Some people spoke to us for over an hour, others only had one or two things to share… but we discovered very quickly that each person’s experiences with the juvenile justice system needed to be represented. We filmed for about 7-8 total days spanning two months, then needed a day or two for pickups and additional photography. Post-production was a beast due to the sheer amount of content we’d filmed — and out background is in fiction, so we felt tremendous pressure to do justice to not only the issues we were exploring, but to the brave individuals who shared their stories. All-in-all the film took about 4 months to come together.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

“Looking deeper.”

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

While we had incredible access and participation from the organizations we interviewed and learned about (AHJN, ARC, and CYS just to names a few) we had absolutely zero help, support, or even response from the probation department. Despite repeated attempts to gain access or even more information, we were stonewalled — they are a black hole. It’s all sketchy. Ultimately, most of the non-experiential information we explore is public record, but hopefully this film and the public’s continued interest in reforming our justice system leads to more transparency.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

We were humbled! It was inspiring to see the audicne reactions so closely align with our own feelings towards the subject matter. It seems people really “got it” — which is rewarding… but because the issues we explore in the film are so close to our hearts, the audience reactions were also important reminders for us to continue exploring.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

In some ways, I’ve known I wanted to be a storyteller since I was a kid – before I can even remember. Sharing experiences and bringing stories to life has always been where my true passion lies. But it was in high school that I found a mentor who helped me grow enough to begin pursuing it as a career.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

That would almost definitely be Raiders of the Lost Ark

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

The audience feedback is a great touch. Like many filmmakers, I desire for my work to be seen by the widest possible cross-section of people, but even then it is difficult to gain access to industry professionals. Perhaps establishing some outreach with distributors or sales reps – or creating a pipeline for the winning filmmakers to take meetings with people higher in the industry who can provide guidance for future work.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

FilmFreeway is great! I do not miss the old days before all the festival submissions were curated into one place.

10. What is your favorite meal?

It’s a tie between Texas BBQ and a good old fashioned cheeseburger.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

We’re in post-production on an independent pilot we shot back in August. It’s a narrative project developed during the height of the pandemic… the details have to kept under wraps for now, but we have high hopes for its success. Outside of that, we are in various stages of development for a couple smaller projects. Hopefully 2023 builds on the momentum of 2022!


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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