‘Shot Caller’ Grapples With The Aftermath Of Surviving Prison

Stuntman-turned writer/director Ric Roman Waugh volunteered for two years with the California Department of Corrections to research his movie.

By Laura RiceAugust 15, 2017 10:52 am

Ric Roman Waugh is a Hollywood legacy of sorts. His father Freddy made a name for himself doing stunts in films such as “Little Big Man”, “Beetlejuice” and “Minority Report.” Ric followed in his dad’s footsteps as a stuntman in dozens of films including “Lethal Weapon 2” and “The Last of the Mohicans.” During the past several years, though, Ric moved to Texas and has turned his focus to writing and directing films. His third feature, “Shot Caller,” hits theaters Friday, Aug. 18.

On why he likes living in Austin:

“We’ve been in Austin here almost eight years now and love it to death, and it reminds me of the way I grew up, and I wanted my sons to grow up the same way.”

On his dad’s career advice:

“He told me, you know, Don’t be the idiot that sits by the honey wagons and the trailers. Stay on set and learn and watch. And I gravitated towards the directors.”

On learning his craft from watching other directors:

“I would watch them set up shots and design things, and I would be like, God I never though of doing it like that, or, I’d go, Yeah, I woulda probably done it different.”

On being a Texas-based filmmaker:

“I’m going to LA when I need to do meetings and so forth, but as a filmmaker now, and luckily I’m established enough where I can live anywhere. I could live in Nome, Alaska. It wouldn’t affect my business, it’s just a matter if I want to travel.”

On filmmaking being a family affair:

“When we start a movie, we basically become a traveling circus. We pack the dogs, pack the kids, like Noah’s Ark, and we hit the road and hit location. I get to write wherever I want.”

On diving into the lives of his characters:

“I like to know my subjects. …I don’t want to show up on set and have to rely on a technical advisor to tell me if something’s right or wrong. I need to know it, cause if I can’t be confident within the authenticity that I go for in movies, then how can I express that to a crew member or express that to a cast member?”

On exploring the prison experience through his film, “Shot Caller”:

“I said, so why don’t we make a move about…an everyday person, and felon, which is: You defend your household and you find out within the laws that…it’s not considered self defense and you had to go do prison time. What would that journey be like?”

On volunteering with the California Department of Corrections:

“I became a volunteer with the California Department of Corrections…for over two years and I worked specifically with parole. …I had barcoded credentials and I would go into all the institutions and talk to prison gangsters and the correctional officers inside, but I could also go out on the streets.”

On exploring the long-term costs of being a felon in “Shot Caller”:

“What would be the costs afterwards when you came out. How would you be affected? Why is our recidivism rate so high in this country? …Their brains are rewired to a different moral code by survival inside. And so they come home and they no longer understand society, society has moved on without them.”

On why he was drawn to this story:

“I started this research to do this one movie and then I fell so far down the rabbit hole…it became an addiction to a point where I just wanted to know more and more and more and understand it.”


Written by Caroline Covington.