SANTA MARIA, Calif. -

A hard-hitting documentary aimed at preventing gang affiliation premiered today at the Edwards Theatres in Santa Maria. The Santa Maria Police Department teamed up with a local filmmaker to bring an issue to light that's become a problem in our region.

"Life Facing Bars" is the title of the documentary that made its big debut today. The concept for the project began years ago, but just last May, the Santa Maria Police Department teamed up with recent Cal Poly grad Matt Yoon to make it happen.

The film offers a raw, unscripted look into the gang culture told through the words of imprisoned gang members who called the Central Coast their turf.

Santa Maria Police intend to spread DVD copies of the film throughout the area to local schools, churches, youth groups. The idea is to help keep kids from joining gangs.

"We want this video to be a catalyst for conversation," said Santa Maria Police Lt. Dan Cohen. "We hope it's a call to action, that people who feel passionate about this issue feel moved to do something about this problem because it's preventable."

The police department says the cost for the project was minimal. Several private donations and assistance from the city of Santa Maria helped to fund the documentary.

If you weren't able to catch the premier today, Edwards Theatres at the Town Center will be re-running the documentary next week Monday - Thursday at noon every day free of charge. The filmmaker has made the film available for viewing on his YouTube page. Click on the link to watch: http://youtu.be/wal5QFvTSWw