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Ice Cream Commercial

In spite of being incarcerated, one of the things that patient Brian always looked forward to was his daily pint of ice cream from the commissary. One day we all decided to shoot a faux-mercial of Brian and his ice cream obsession. Herky and Glover co-directed this spontaneous scene of hi-jinx behind the walls of the Iowa State Penitentiary. Thanks to voice over artist Paul Serafin for his outstanding work!

No Military Burial!

During Jack's funeral, his son Don receives a phone call from the military cemetery in Keukuk, Iowa. Due to Jack's murder conviction, the cemetery is not obligated to accept Jack's body despite his war hero and POW status. Evidently, the military burial law was changed after McVeigh bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma; making many veterans inelegible for long awaited and much deserved military burials.

Military Burial

Hospice volunteer Jesse comes over to Jack's hospice room to take him for a much needed walk. Both being veterans of war, they talk about how they would best want to pass away given their druthers. They are pleased to at least know they will be buried with military honors despite the wrongs they committed... but will they?  

I'm Tired of it...

Prisoner patient Brian has a heart to heart with penitentiary nurse Kathy. A symptom of his illness causes confusion as he gradually comes to terms that he is back in prison. This is one of my favorite scenes where everything "clicks" in one emotionally devastating continuous take. I recall leaving his room in tears when I shot this scene. 

Terri's Last Goodbye

Jack Hall's granddaughter Terri, visits with her grandfather a few hours before he passes away. The hospice program at the Iowa State Penitentiary is unique in that it allows family members of the patient to be present around-the-clock in the final days and/or hours of their life. No patient/prisoner will ever die alone anymore.

Compassionate Commutation

Prisoner hospice volunteer Jesse, begins the process of commutation to get Jack released for health related reasons. Many prisoners pass away by the time a reply is received from the governor. Jack finds it difficult to muster up remorse for killing the drug dealer who hooked his son on drugs - but remorse is key to a succesfull commutation.

I Have to Get to Mowing...

Hospice volunteer Herky sits at his patients' bedside and offers him some words of encouragement. Brian is feeling depressed as he deals with the symptoms of his illness which includes short-term memory loss and confabulation. Herky provides Brian with a little tough love.

I Don't Want to Die

Prisoner hospice volunteer Jesse, checks in with Jack to remind him that his compassionate commutation is in the works. Jesse is worried that Jack's health is deteriorating and that he may not live to see his sentence commuted.

It Wasn't About Him

The prison hospice volunteers and friends attend a bereavement ceremony for the men who recently passed away while in the hospice program. The ceremony provides the prisoners a degree of closure as well as an opportunity to reflect on the friendships they've made behind the walls.

Until I Came to Prison...

Hospice caretakers Herky and Glove discuss their favorite prisoner patients, how they cared for him upon his return to prison after a 6-month coma. When there are no terminally ill prisoners in the prison infirmary the hospice team members work as orderlies.

That does not need to happen...

Marilyn, the Director of Nursing for the Iowa DOC and founder of the prison hospice program Sail to Serenity, speaks on the need for prison hospice and some of the battles that she fought in order to keep the program viable and successful - harsh but necessary language in this outtake.

They're Warriors

Prisoner hospice volunteer, Herky, shares his thoughts on the nursing staff that he and his fellow volunteers have had the pleasure to work with. Jo, one of the prisoners most beloved nurses, is praised for her dedication and compassion - traits not shared by all nurses in corrections.

On being a hospice volunteer...

Jeri Welch from the Lee County Health Department enters the infirmary at the Iowa State Penitentiary to help train the prisoners in end-of-life care. The 14 week hospice training course is co-taught by the folks at the Lee County Health Dept. as well as by the prison medical staff. (Rough Edit)

When my family visits...

Prisoner hospice volunteer Herky speaks frankly about the realities of being a lifer and seeing his family visit over the years. Herky is fortunate to have a loving family visit with him, though the frequency has changed as they get older - a reality most prisoners must contend with.

What kind of prayer do you pray? 

Prisoner hospice volunteer Herky sits with Jack who recently entered the prison hospice program. The men discuss end of life issues and their religious beliefs. Coming to the realization that his life is ending is difficult for Jack to accept, and Herky is sensitive to Jack's point of view.


I edited this trailer soon after I returned from shooting at the Iowa State Penitentiary. I borrowed music from Darren Aronofsky's superb film The Fountain. The score was composed by Clint Mansell and struck me as haunting and perfect for a documentary about loss and compassion. While I loved it, 6 minutes was a bit too long for a trailer!


I edited this trailer after hearing from many people that the first trailer was simply too long to drum up interest for completion funding. So, going back to Darren Aronofsky's film I found a shorter piece of music by Clint Mansell that still worked perfectly. But a trailer shy of 4 minutes is still too long!

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