To have 10 cameras behind a maximum security prison and cover a rodeo that’s almost 70 years old in a way that it had never, ever been covered before is kind of cool and interesting to people,” said Payne, who runs FieldGuide, an Oklahoma film and video production company. The film humanizes its incarcerated subjects in a way not many documentaries have. To Brooks, 31, a taste of freedom was more intriguing than meeting face-to-horns with a rodeo bull. But she appreciated how the film crew came in and followed through with promises to portray her and the women around her in a more positive light than most people could imagine. The filmmakers are using the insight and experience they gained while shooting in prison to reach out to prisoners through a scholarship fund for women re-integrating into society and by screening the film in prisons. Brooks and several of the other women featured saw the film for the first time in July at one such screening. For Brooks, seeing her prison days played out on a big screen was moving but distressful. "It’s really emotional because it’s a place that I just never want to go back to. That was a really painful part of my life,” she said. Today, Brooks said she feels like a role model to women re-entering society. After spending almost 14 years in prison, she has a good job in Checotah, a roof over her head and her own car. Beesley, a University of Oklahoma graduate, said, "I would hope that we’re humanizing these people and showing that these women are smart, they’re beautiful, they’re funny, they have mothers. They are mothers. ... They’re just like everyone else — maybe they’re a good person that got in a bad situation.” Beesley is well-known for his Oklahoma-based films including "Okie Noodling” and the Flaming Lips documentary "The Fearless Freaks.”
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OnlineTo watch the official movie trailer for "Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo,” go to NewsOK: NewsOK.com/the oklahoman
On DVDThe filmmakers hope to release the film on DVD by the end of the year and are working toward a future theatrical release. After Thursday’s Cinemax premiere, the film will be shown on HBO periodically. For more information about "Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo,” go online to www.sweetheartsoftheprisonrodeo.com.