Skip Navigation

The Big Screen: A Story Of Life After Prison 15


A new web series follows a young woman struggling to re-enter society after prison. This week, we talk with Ya’Ke Smith about the many real-life sources he pulled from to make “The Beginning and Ending of Everything.”

On the series’ connection to Smith’s 2014 short film “Dawn”

“Dawn” is based on my sister’s struggle, who spent some years in and out of prison. Not just her struggle but many other people who I’ve watched who have really struggled to re-acclimate to society when they come out. Usually, when you get out, society isn’t kind to you…I kind of wanted to continue to explore that theme with “The Beginning and Ending of Everything.”

On expanding into a larger project

I think my goal with the series is that a network will see it and will want to develop it further. I think this is a story we’ve seen but not quite in this way. I’d love to see this on a major network…I think a lot of people can identify with the story.

On the web series format

I think this is a gateway to [making your own TV show]. Doing a series is very different from doing a short film or even a feature because you have to find something that can keep people’s interest for a long period of time and a story that can keep going…Something as simple as continuity is really difficult in something this large because you have to make sure that you know this thing happened on day one or day five or day nine.

On doing research for the series

As I was doing research for this, somebody gave me a DVD for the Texas Roundup of AA. Basically, they have speakers come and deliver speeches. There was one woman who delivered a speech that I literally listened to for months straight. There are pieces of her story and pieces of a lot of other stories in that monologue that I was reading as I did research….Hearing those stories and hearing how those people overcame those things and how they can stand there and tell you those stories and use them as a way to challenge you to keep going — that’s what I really pulled from.

You can stream the first two episodes on the show’s Facebook page. Episode 3 is out Friday.

Download this week’s episode

Subscribe to The Big Screen on iTunes.