Listening to The Breakfasters on RRR yesterday, I heard an interview with one of the creators of PrisonPals. This is a new web series set in Geelong Prison featuring an enthusiastic social worked attempting to set up a rehabilitation program that allows the prisoners to use the internet to start pen pal type relationships to connect with the world.
PrisonPals was launched yesterday at 8am with a 24-hour live web stream – unfortunately, whether it is with connection problems on my side or theirs, I was unable to access this. I watched the eight webisodes available and spent a little time checking out the site. I think it can be exciting to see how the internet can be used to create this kind of cheap and accessible content. It is important to support up-and-coming media creators so they can grow and change.
Whilst I think that PrisonPals certainly has the potential to be something interesting, it is not there yet. The episodes I watched were underwritten and could have made far greater use of documentary style techniques, especially talking head interviews. The website itself is quite effective, however it is quite clunky in the way in functions, and there is no point having a link to the blog unless something has been written there – although perhaps the blog may follow once the program is launched.
If this project is well publicised, it could find a niche audience who will find it extremely entertaining and funny exactly as it is. I could see this is a launching point for a more ambitious project with greater story and character development.