top of page

“From Prison to Purpose” with Adnan Khan


This week’s guest is filmmaker and activist Adnan Khan. Listen in to hear his compelling story about how he went from a troubled youth to becoming an incarcerated filmmaker at San Quentin State Prison and now an advocate for criminal justice reform. He shares deep insights about intergenerational trauma, personal growth behind bars, and his journey toward redemption.

Adnan’s life is a testament to resilience amidst adversity. His experiences shed light on the realities inside prison walls - far beyond what mainstream media portrays. Please tune in to discover how, despite harsh conditions, he found hope and purpose through filmmaking while advocating for legislative changes like Senate Bill 1437.

In this episode:

  • Self-Reflection: Adnan’s introspective journey allowed him to understand the root causes of his actions and make amends for them. This teaches us the importance of self-reflection in understanding our own behaviors and patterns.

  • Resilience: Despite facing harsh conditions and a life sentence at a young age, Adnan maintained hope and resilience, which kept him going each day. His story emphasizes the power of resilience in overcoming adversity.

  • Empathy & Humanity: Adnan’s experiences taught him about humanity's full range from suffering to resilience, leading him to aim for peace wherever possible both for himself and others around him. This underlines the importance of empathy towards others’ struggles.

  • Continuous Learning: Even while incarcerated, Adnan met individuals who were intelligent without formal degrees but skilled as lawyers or leaders, artists who brought humor into their lives despite their circumstances - demonstrating that learning is continuous regardless of your situation.

  • Making Amends: Although direct restitution was impossible due to his imprisonment, he sought indirect ways such as charity within the facility by helping older inmates or sharing resources like food when possible – showing that there are always opportunities to make amends if one looks for them.

  • Responsibility & Accountability: Accepting responsibility for one's actions is an important lesson. Adnan’s admitted guilt, even though he didn't directly commit murder, shows how taking accountability helps in starting a path toward redemption.

Order of Topics:

  • The Early Years - A Childhood Marked by Instability

  • The Turning Point - From Petty Crimes to Life Sentence

  • Reflections Behind Bars – Seeking Redemption

  • Humanity Within Prison Walls

  • Empathy – Overcoming Resentment Towards Parents

  • Mentorship Inside Prisons– Breaking Cycles Through Connection

  • Reintegration Into Society– Facing Judgment Post-Incarceration

  • First Watch Filmmakers– Rediscovering Humanity Through Media

About Adnan:

Adnan Khan is a filmmaker and the Founder and Executive Director of Firstwatch Filmmakers. While incarcerated, Adnan founded Firstwatch, a media filmmaking project produced entirely by incarcerated men at San Quentin State Prison. He also created Re:Store Justice, a nonprofit criminal justice organization, where he advocated for the successful passage of Senate Bill 1437. Adnan is also a San Francisco FILM resident receiving the 2023 Filmhouse Residency.

You can find him here:

About UpLevel Productions: Founded by Christie Mann, MA, CPCC, PCC, and Rachel Baldi, CPCC, PCC, UpLevel creates, produces, and delivers Transformative Experiences, Workshops, Training, Events + Media that develop leaders who make our world a healthier, more alive, and connected place to be. As Associate CTI Faculty Partners, UpLevel is licensed to sell, produce and deliver Co-Active coach training and leadership development programs around the world to support the transformational growth of individuals and culture inside the workplace and organization. Instagram @uplevelproductions Facebook & LinkedIn @uplevelproductionscompany


bottom of page