actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

Director / CrewI am filmmaker James Burns. I voluntarily spent a month in solitary confinement and live streamed it on VICE - AMA!

Jan 16th 2017 by JamesyBurns • 11 Questions • 276 Points

My short bio: Hey everyone, My name is Infidelix.. I am the rapper from the subway video... I am setting up this AMA so I can talk about what happened with the video and the girl.. what I do as a street performer... and talk abit about my new album...

My Proof: www.facebook.com/infidelix https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/5nv232/girl_joins_rapper_in_the_subway_for_an_impromptu/

Q:

Did your experience in solitary confinement feel real? For instance did the presence of cameras or the idea that you were part of a live stream make it less intimidating/realistic?

A:

Why did you pick Berlin?


Q:

The experience did feel real- i was completely immersed. I think because of my past experience I was triggered in many of the same ways as before and it was very painful. Oftentimes I forgot about the cameras- it's hard to exist 24/7 under surveillance and be conscious of it all the time.

A:

i didnt really pick berlin..berlin picked me. i was backapacking europe for a few years and once I got tired of living on couches..I wantedto realy.. I happened to be in berlin when I made that desicion. This city has shown me more love then anywhere and I love the people and the place because of that


Q:

How realistic was your experience? I assume most peoples trip to confinement comes after a highly emotional experience; at times against their will and for no sufficient reason. How did your experience differ from those of actual inmates? Couldn't you just have locked your self in a storage locker and received the same results?

A:

I love Berlin man. People appreciate uniqueness and creativity there. There's a super interesting mix of business and pleasure there too.


Q:

My experience was very realistic- aside from me having to address the camera. The deprivation is very real. And the correctional staff made it a point to treat me the same as any other inmate. The only difference was that I could clock out at any time if I felt I was going to have a mental breakdown, whereas other people in solitary have no choice but to suffer through their experience.

Being in a real facility also does something to you- The weight of a real jail or prison has a significant impact on your psyche.

A:

so many cool start up companies and such. its like a hub of creativity


Q:

Do you feel like having the ability to tap out at any time contributed towards a totally different experience than true solitary confinement? Also, do you believe that knowing you'll only be there for thirty days made* a difference in how you approached each day?

*EDIT: typo

A:

Your performance in both the subway and studio version of The Anthem of The Lost is incredible! It is so mesmerizing to see a person testing his own limits doing what he loves most. Great job.

With that, I've only recently caught on to your music and was wondering:What shaped your taste/who were your favorite influences throughout the times? Also, could we expect more songs like The Anthem of The lost in the upcoming album?

Thanks for doing this, you're awesome. : )


Q:

The thirty day time limit did affect how I did my time- I think knowing I only had 30 days helped me make it through.

Certainly, having the ability to tap out makes the experience a little different- there are people in solitary confinement who have no end in sight.

But neither one of those things change the reality of what extreme sensory deprivation does to the brain- the effects of solitary confinement happen whether you have an end date or not.

A:

yes! people tho are expecting my whole album to be like this.. and the truth is.. its not. I am not always a sad person.. and I am not always a deep person. This new album Busk Life.. is a combination of both.

I am big into the universe and what I project to the universe. If all I talk is sad stuff..my life is gonna be sad. So this album.. I have some more happy stuff on thier


Q:

What contact did you have with other inmates? Do people talk between cells?

A:

Source youtube comments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLfGbyjgbt8

[Verse 1] Conor thought that his dreams were not possible

When he woke up he was only thinking logical

He started thinking that he could be this rad guy

That super duper fun guy on this super troopa hash highHis life is tick tocking on the facebook

He needs to get fucked please show him how you play swole

Needs to get crunk so show him how to make hooks

Think about yourself and say fuck off to the fake crooksBut conor ties and you turn him into ashes

Roll them in a joint so the world can kiss his ass and

As long as he leaves a mark he's not tripping

He took a frontseat on this log with his mission now

He's alone with his thoughts hes just thinking about a rope

You asking why he rhymes it's the way he tries to cope

With the fact that he's alone and inside he's lost hope

They say that he's just fine[Hook]

SHOW ME LOVE, show me love, show me love now

YOU'VE GOT YOUR HAND ON A BUTTON NOW

SHOWIN LOVE, show me love, show me love now

YOU'VE GOT YOUR HAND ON A BUTTON NOW

[Bridge]

Here we go!

Where do I go and where do I run?

Real life is hard find me a gun

I don't have the answers, I only feel the pain

Starting to feel dead inside revive me againWhere do I go and where do I run?

Real life is hard find me a gun

I don't have the answers, I only feel the pain

Starting to feel dead inside revive me again

[Verse 2]

See conor, he was this out the box thinker

Due to the mary jane or was he too much of a drinker

Helped him ease the pain with the fasting tingaling why

Was he born in a world that only gave the finger Fuck the doctor he's not taking those pills nah

Fuck the normals an their social skills yeah

Fuck the way people made him think about himself

About his dreams, about his life [?]He does not really wanna take that nah

He just wants to make it

OK, but he really wants to stop now

And leave this world that he's createdBut not now he knows he's got the balls

But they are trapped outside the box [?]

Duty is you must call him motivator

Got the feeling that they're lost to the ones that think they'll fallSHOW ME LOVE, cause they're the ones that think they'll fall

YOU'VE GOT YOUR HAND ON A BUTTON NOW cause they're the ones that think they'll fall

SHOWIN LOVE, show me love, show me love now

YOU'VE GOT YOUR HAND ON A BUTTON NOW[Bridge]

Here we go!

Where do I go and where do I run?

Real life is hard find me a gun

I don't have the answers, I only feel the pain

Starting to feel dead inside revive me againWhere do I go and where do I run?

Real life is hard find me a gun

I don't have the answers, I only feel the pain

Starting to feel dead inside revive me again[Verse

I'm starting to feel dead inside revive me again yeah

Give it away now, Give it away now

Give it away, give it away, give it away now

Give it away now, Give it away now

Give it away, give it away, give it away now Where do I go and where do I run?

Real life is hard find me a gun

I don't have the answers, I only feel the pain

Starting to feel dead inside revive me again Where do I go and where do I run?

Real life is hard find me a gun

I don't have the answers, I only feel the pain

Starting to feel dead inside revive me again (yeah)I'm starting to feel dead inside revive me again (yeah) x4


Q:

I had no contact with the other inmates, with the exception of the trustees bringing food to my cell. Some of the inmates knew about the project and when they'd pass by the unit they'd shout my name and hold their fists up- I couldn't talk to them but I could see them from my cell window.

In some facilities people talk between cells, in this case I had no one that I could talk to.

A:

yes, many people I think have posted them on the youtube video. If not, let me know. I can send them


Q:

Hey there, neat project, if a little insane. What (if any) alternatives would you recommend to the prison industry as a way of a) punishing very dangerous criminals and b) keeping well known criminals or terrorists out of the main prison population for their own protection, like many of the inmates at ADX Florence in Colorado? I absolutely agree that solitary is a form of torture but as yet I can't think of any way around it in certain cases.

A:

When are you going to come back to America?


Q:

This is the big question, right? I'm glad you asked. I wish I had the magic bullet that could solve all these problems and end the practice of solitary confinement but I do recognize that it is necessary to separate people who are a danger to themselves and others for safety reasons. I think we need to do that with empathy and in a way that is more humane and geared towards reform rather than punishment. If we're going to use incarceration as a method of correction, then we should be striving to make people better than they were when they came in.

I had a similar conversation with one of the corrections officers during my time in solitary and he said, "I challenge you or anyone I find a better way." I would forward that challenge to the rest of the world- to researchers, to correctional institutions, to the public.

Finding an alternative would mean bringing together leaders in mental health research, corrections, policy, and advocacy groups- it would mean a shift in how we look at corrections but it's a shift I think we can and should achieve.

As a filmmaker I can primarily speak to the emotional experience of solitary and I hope that it would inspire those with the skill sets needed to come together and find alternatives. I'll also continue searching for answers in my own work.

A:

its gonna be a while till that happens... I dont have any plans of coming back there anytime soon. They take ur foreskins and arm u with pistols. I really like where I am now lol


Q:

Thank your for doing this AMA, what are your thoughts on oatmeal cookies?

A:

Hi thanks for doing this! What first got you into making music?


Q:

Love 'em. I realize that raisins aren't for everyone but I'm sticking to my guns.

A:

well theater actually got me into music. i love the stage.. as i grew up..it developed into rapping.. then when I needed to survive... it turned into street rap


Q:

Firstly, you're brave for subjecting yourself to this.

Questions:

  1. Are there any merits for this method for prisons?

  2. What negative effects did you suffer in your month?

A:

The girl is demanding money from you?

Edit: Read something about lawyers and money ...


Q:
  1. It's hard to say there is a merit for torturing people. There is no merit to torturing people.

  2. Let's just say it was very painful- I felt intense anxiety, insomnia, and my thoughts were scattered. There were times where I felt hopeless, especially when I started thinking about people who didn't have the option to leave solitary like I did.

A:

no she isnt. That whole mess is crazy... if anything.. I am asking her to show me papers on how good the video is doing.. and she wont do that :( but I dont really care anymore tbh, this video has opened up so many doors for me... Im over the problems I had with her and this clip..


Q:

I think we've got the same opinion, just had to ask pro/cons just in case I was missing a perspective.

Thanks for the prompt response, and good job on the work you've done.

A:

Wait, she's making money off the video on YouTube?

You should create an account yourself and post it.


Q:

Thanks for being a part of the discussion!


Q:

What brought you to creating documentaries instead of making fictional pieces?

A:

Hello, Who is your favourite wizard? Cheers!


Q:

Actually I do narrative pieces as well- I love them both. I wrote a piece in solitary confinement that's a fictional narrative that I'll be directing sometime this year

A:

i dont have one. haha. i like astronauts tho


Q:

The cameras were live streaming through VICE. I think there were definitely people watching.

A:

I love the video of you rapping to jazz music! Are there any rap/jazz songs like that on your albums?


Q:

copy that!

A:

theres some funky stuff on there ya, and im workign with more live interuments.. but i like that idea.. maybe i try a jazz track someday!


Q:

Are you OK?

A:

Its such a unique sound! I love it!


Q:

I'm getting there, thanks for asking!

A:

i just didnt allow failure to be an option. I have had many people want to slow me down.. but I jsut stay focused.. and when I accomplish goals.. I am happy.. Its like my drug


Q:

What would you say is the absolute worst part, mentally, of the whole process? Also, does the lack of human interaction show once you're released back into the general population? Was it hard to re-adjust back to normality?

A:

The whole process is dehumanizing- the lack of human interaction does make it hard to readjust when you come back to the real world. On my first day after release I was full of anxiety and could barely look people in the eye.


Q:

Other than the length of time, was there any difference between your mandatory and voluntary experiences of solitary confinement. Such as treatment by guards, food, lights on or off.

Also, 11 months seems like a pretty hefty punishment, would you mind sharing what caused such a punishment?

Glad to hear that you were stronger than the system and have accomplished success after prison. It doesn't happen for many. Congrats!!!

A:

Of course knowing the fact that I could leave at any point was the major difference- but overall I was treated no differently than most inmates who are in solitary confinement across the nation. Facilities vary on things like access to reading materials, stationary items, and yard time but I asked that I only have access to stationary items and the mandatory hour out of the cell.

To be honest I can't really remember why I was put in solitary for eleven months in the first place, I'm pretty sure it was for a fight. Over the course of my incarceration I was in and out of solitary multiple times, eleven months just happened to be the longest stretch.


Q:

I am interested in making documentaries. I am pretty new to the area of filmmaking though. Do you have any tips or advice for getting started and improving?

A:

Keep doing it! Make what's interesting to you and what you're passionate about.


Q:

Did anything "good" came out of this solitary confimenement or the other one? Or are the effects all negative?

Thanks for bringing awareness of the issue!

A:

Definitely nothing good came out of the other one. The best thing that came out of this experience was the fact that I could use it as a way to raise awareness.


Q:

Were there any times where you thought you just weren't going to make it? Was there a particular low part of your time in solitary confinement?

A:

There were times that I had to remind myself that I wasn't an inmate and that this was a project- your thoughts can go to some very dark places in extreme conditions like that. Because of my past experience in solitary confinement I was triggered, and I was reacquainted with the feeling of not being able to make it.


Q:

What was the point if we already know the effects? You wasted a month

A:

The point of the project was not for me to discover the effects of solitary - I had already experienced being held against my will in solitary during my previous incarceration as a teenager.

The project was more so to show people the day in and day out of what being in solitary confinement is like in real time and hopefully start a conversation around it. So far seems like it's working, no?


Q:

Are there any projects you really want to do but are not sure you will be able to?

A:

Chasing dreams every day.