The Knockturnal spoke with Michael K. Williams, Tim Clancy and David Simon about the season 6 premiere episode of HBO and Vice’s show “Raised in The System.”
The show offers a frank and unflinching look at those caught up the system, exploring why the country’s mass incarceration problem cannot be fixed without first addressing the juvenile justice problem and investigates the solutions local communities are employing that are resulting in drastic drops in both crime and incarceration.
Michael K. Williams (Executive Producer)
Q: Tell me about your role in this documentary?
It’s a one hour special on VICE. A show on HBO. But I guess you can call it a doc. But it’s not the typical format.
Q: So what attracted you to work on this?
This is a documentary about the juvenile criminal justice system in our country. I’m from Brooklyn. I’m from the projects. So I’ve seen a lot of my family and friends go through the system and I reached a point in my life where I started to recognize a pattern and I took that to the producer of VICELAND and together they helped me on this journey and we discovered that this is around the country. This is a national issue us locking up our young people in mass numbers. So that is what this doc is about. That’s why I wrote it.
Q: What were the challenges of making this doc?
The difficulty was seeing young people in so much pain. You watch it, you’re gonna see it. A young man, at 15 years old, he was sentenced to 55 years in prison. We see another young man – an 11 year old boy in Jersey – talking about how his father beat him black and blue. He had to transfer school … He wants to be the first person in his family to not go to prison. You hear things like that so those stories are very hard.
Tim Clancy (Co-Exec Producer)
Tell us about the episode.
I think a lot has been made of non-violent drug offenses. There’s been very good coverage on that, and solving that aspect of our mass incarceration problem. And for us, Raised in The System is an excellent opportunity to talk about another part of this mass incarceration problem.
Q: Tell me about supporting Michael today.
I’m here as a fan. I can only tell you about Michael because I’m here for him. I know he’s obviously had the career with HBO and its productions up to this point. But having known him all these years now, I’m excited that he’s gotten something done … It seems to be a labor of love … and I’m glad to see him begin with something that is close to his heart. I’ve always felt from working with him and from an understanding of story that he ought to be telling his own stories. And not relying on knuckleheads like me. So I’m really interested to see what his first step is. For years now; for all the years we worked together on The Wire and on other things that we’ve been engaged on, other than even productions; whenever you ask him to stretch, whenever you ask him to do things he hasn’t done in the past, he’s taken this completely earnest opportunity and even he had some doubts at points with where we were – where we were journeying; with his character or with storytelling and he would always put his faith in the undiscovered country. You know, that place where he hadn’t done something. Where his character hadn’t gone to that place yet – that was more interesting to him than doing the same things over and over again. I wanted to see the beginning of Michael K. Williams’ producing. And Michael K. Williams’ storytelling. Where from the beginning to the end of the project, this is him. So Raised in The System is the first step. And it’s an interesting partnership with VICE and HBO too. To try and [expand] the documentary realm, and use some of VICE’s resources.
What other projects are you working on?
We’re shooting the second season of The Deuce right now. And I owe scripts on so much stuff that it’s almost not worth talking about it. Because until it gets a green light, it’s all just talk. But yeah, I got a couple things where I owe HBO some script work and working on that now. And I’m working on a musical, believe it or not. I’m not writing the music … but right now it’s in development at The Public Theater, but we’ll see. That also may not happen.
Season 6 of VICE debuts Friday, April 6th at 11:00 pm ET.