POV: How did you find out about the baseball game at San Quentin and what drew you to want to make a film about this subject specifically?
Larry Warner: I comb news sources often — and I found an article in the New York Times about the program.
POV: Was this the first time an outside team played the San Quentin Giants? Have there been other games since?
Larry: No — I believe the program has been going on since the ’70s, though there was a break for a couple of decades. Then Earl Smith started it back up again in the late ’90s.
POV: How long did it take to make the film? Describe the process briefly.
Larry: The process was relatively easy — but I’m experienced at story structure, for I have been working in television since 1980. It was mostly doing a little research prior to gaining access to the prison, and then getting to the right people to talk to that would tell the richest story. Earl Smith was the first interview — and that interview carries the piece.
POV: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
Most of the struggle was with red tape in trying to get into the prison. Even though I do a lot of work with CBS News, I only used my own name to gain access, and for some reason that made the task a bit easier. Had the prison bureaucrats suspected that my project was actually going to be “seen,” they might have given me a harder time.
POV: At the end of the film, you flash a statistic stating that only two of the 50 former inmates who played on the baseball team and have been released have been re-incarcerated. How does that percentage compare to other inmates who didn’t play baseball in terms of their recidivism rate?
Larry: The recidivism rate is as high as 70 percent in California.
POV: What do you hope audiences will take away from “No Angels in the Outfield”?
Larry: I don’t want to be too political, but we can’t just continue to warehouse prisoners. Unless they are too violent that they can’t be in the “pool” with the rest of us, then they are going to be bumping into us on the streets sooner or later. These guys need to be taught something while on the inside of the prison about life and society, and not just how not to get caught the next time while doing their next crime from other inmates.
POV: What projects are you working on now?
I do a lot of work for CBS News. As far as work outside of the the networks, I am doing some preliminary research on Northern California wine pioneers, hopefully coming to a screen near you.