Mystery Box Challenge – Cindy Sanford

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This is the first mystery box challenge. I have supplied some stuff (we call them “assets”) in a folder on Google doc that I have shared with you. The challenge is to use them to produce a short video.


Who is Cindy Sanford?


Cindy is the author of Letters to a Lifer: The Boy Never to be Released. The book details her and her family’s relationship with Ken Crawford, who is serving a sentence of life without parole. She came across Ken through his art and now considers him her son. The whole thing has made her seriously question her long-held beliefs about the criminal justice system.


You will need to do more research to fill out her remarkable story.


Why is she important to the issue?


Often when we talk about this issue we discuss it with people who already agree with us. We “preach to the choir.” Cindy was not the choir. She is a very politically conservative woman from a rural part of northcentral Pennsylvania who came to be passionate about the issue after meeting Ken Crawford. She also is very open about how her faith has informed her thinking about Ken. So her story often resonates with a population that would otherwise take a hardline on juvenile lifers.


What do we need to make?


You need to produce a video of 5-7 minutes that introduces viewers to Cindy and her story. There is probably a half hour or more of video, so you will have to choose carefully which parts to use. Don’t just choose a 5-minute stretch of the interview. Produce a video – that means pay attention to narrative and the quality of cuts, sound quality, lighting and color quality.
Here is a video that someone did about her. I want yours to be much better.


What’s in the box?


• Raw video footage of an interview I did with Cindy over the summer. I had a lot of trouble with the camera during the interview – most notably, the lavalier mic quit working, so the sound is only through the fairly lame microphone on the dslr. So you will have to work on improving the sound. The video was shot outside and the sun is in and out, making the background sometimes washed out. Figure out how to deal with that.
• Some footage of the countryside near Cindy’s home. I shot this out of a car window and haven’t looked at it, but it might be useful for B-roll.
• A newspaper photograph of Ken Crawford during the trial and another of him and Cindy and Cindy’s husband Keith Sanford.
• Two pictures of Ken Crawford’s art.
These are the basics in the folder. If you find anything else that might be helpful, feel free to use it. If you are going to use music, assure yourself that you are using it under “fair use” otherwise find royalty-free or copyright-free music.


What is the purpose of the video?


Cindy Sanford will be on campus on October 8 to talk about the book. The previous day she is speaking at Penn Law School. So your video will serve as sort of a preview for her visit – to familiarize people with her.


Who is the audience?


People who are and are not familiar with the juvenile life without parole issue.


Where will it be distributed?


On The Redemption Project website and through social media.


When is it due?


Sept. 17 at the end of class.