Experiencing Interruptions?

First Chances

This is the story of Timothy Jackson, a man from Oceanside, CA who never had a first chance in life and ended up serving a longterm prison sentence after coming of age as a gang member. Jackson participated in an entrepreneurship program in prison, sparking change in his life and ultimately leading him on a path of success, love, and new meaning.

  • Alex Luchsinger
  • Alex Luchsinger
  • Alex Luchsinger
  • Timothy Jackson (real name)
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    25 minutes 4 seconds
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • San Diego Film Week
    San Diego, CA
    United States
    April 23, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Impact Docs
    La Jolla, CA
    United States
    January 28, 2020
    Award of Recognition
  • Broadcast Education Association
    Las Vegas, NV
    United States
    April 20, 2020
Director Biography - Alex Luchsinger

Alex Luchsinger is a former journalist who covered stories in the U.S. and internationally, including the war in Afghanistan. Now a professor, his research and creative interests include documentary filmmaking. Before that, he served in the Marine Corps and was awarded the Purple Heart.

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Director Statement

The United States accounts for just 5% of the global population, yet makes up 25% of the world’s incarcerated population—and prisons are filled with staggering numbers of African-American men, who are 3-times as likely to be arrested than other races.

I directed the film, First Chances, because I have seen so many talented people get caught up in the criminal justice system in the United States only to be marked for life upon release, unable to gain employment and, in many cases, live a meaningful and dignified life as a convicted felon. For many, prison is a revolving door and a living death sentence.

Timothy Jackson is an exception to the rule. Timothy never had a first chance in life: His father left when he was 7; he was molested shortly after, and his mother became addicted to drugs leaving her incapable of caring for Timothy and his sister. Timothy sought love and acceptance in gangs at just 13 years old. By any definition in the United States, he was a doomed statistic bound for prison or death. At 26, Timothy was sentenced to 18 years in prison for weapons charges and ultimately served 8 years, 8 months, and 8 days for good behavior.

Through an opportunity to participate in an entrepreneurial program in prison, Timothy tapped into the confidence and leadership abilities he always had, and launched his own commercial cleaning company after releasing from prison. He quickly became profitable—all while marrying, having a daughter, mentoring at-risk youth, going to college, and readjusting to his life as a free man. His biggest obstacle was time.

Jackson has a certain magnetism to him: Many have coalesced to help him on his journey since returning from prison, and in turn he has touched and inspired them along the way.

I was drawn to this story because I got into some trouble as a teenager, which could have easily compounded into something hard to recover from. I was fortunate to have good people in my life and luck on my side—I had a first chance. So many good people I knew growing up messed up and paid the consequences which ultimately redirected their lives. This could happen to anyone, and we all likely know someone who it did happen to.