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Continued: St. Paul cable network teaches the power of documentary film

  • Article by: JAMES WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 4, 2014 - 9:51 PM

“It is hard for me to share about myself,” Ortega said. “This process helped me do that, tell my story in the third person, and help others who are on dialysis who are ill.”

Ortega recommends Doc U to those seeking to “discover their creativity, maybe even a profession, that wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.” The experience has inspired her to develop another documentary, she said.

For Whitfield, what began as an effort to tell his story of fruitless job searches, despite having a paralegal degree and a business degree, became the start of action.

His idea — “Bridging the Gap from Prison to Workforce” — helped him make political and employment connections. That led to forming a nonprofit, which led to helping a number of people find good, stable jobs in the north metro.

“I was trying to educate others that these kinds of problems existed in the world. I wanted to try to help others,” he said. “Guys would call me and say, ‘We heard you were the most positive dude that ever did time. What do we do, man?’ ”

Now, he can help them.

“Since the documentary was done, local businesses in Blaine and Coon Rapids are willing to hire people through my nonprofit,” he said. “And just in the past few weeks, we are putting together a coalition of groups around the world to help ex-offenders and recovering addicts.”

All this, he added, “from a documentary that was under 10 minutes long.”

James Walsh • 651-925-5041

  • related content

  • James Whitfield not only struggled to find work after serving 18 years in prison for robbery, it was nearly impossible to get anyone to listen to why he was worth taking a chance on.

  • James Whitfield enjoys working with the camera to to tell the story of people who feel voiceless and want to share their stories.

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