A political documentary that asks: Why is it rare, not normal, to see more than two major candidates?
Interview with co-writer/director/producer Jake Simms
Congratulations! Why are you making your film?
This is a crazy election cycle for us in the states. Our two major party candidates are heavily, and historically disliked, and third parties were starting to get a little traction. We wanted to know why it took such levels of dissatisfaction for there to be any movement in alternative party awareness, and then tell it in a visual story rather than a blog post/explainer piece.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
If you're curious how Americans can have the two most disliked candidates in our history, and no other alternatives gain major traction, this dives into the realities and challenges those alternatives face in our two-party system.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
It's a personal journey for us. Neither of us were educated in politics. We're being exposed to so many different ways of thinking. Universal themes, well, this is about modern democracy, and touches on social paradoxes. Why, if so many people dislike the two primary choices, can't collective action produce another alternative?
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
This originally started just following Gary Johnson. That's pretty much it. What's life like on the campaign trail. Who is this guy? Who are his supporters? It made a major pivot to looking at the broader system pretty quickly for a couple of reasons. First was a practical reason. Budget. There's no way we could afford to stay on the trail with a candidate for very long. The second was exploring the broader themes were more interesting to us. Things like debate access, name recognition, state ballot access, spoiler effects, first past the post voting structures are all incredibly important to how we elect our leaders and yet most of us are woefully ignorant of them.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Mostly positive. The supporters of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have obviously been big fans. Political experts are a mixed bag. Some think it's stupid because you can answer the question 'why is it so hard for a third party to emerge?' with the words "Duveger's Law," which is a political science theory on why first past the post systems trend towards two parties. But to them I say, we're trying to tell a story for a general audience, not just looking for a short answer.
Supporters of Trump and Hillary aren't big fans, even though it isn't a 'get out and vote third party' project, we do empathize with the hurdles of third parties, and that can rub people who are afraid of one of the third parties 'spoiling' the election the wrong way.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The project itself has challenged my point of view. I tend to lean Democrat, and anyone in that camp fears loosing to Trump. If I weren't doing this project, at this point, I'd also likely be part of the echo chamber telling all the third parties to get out of the way. Now, watching things unfold from a more objective standpoint, it was pretty crazy to see stories about Hillary PACs explicitly stating their strategy to attack third parties and win back supporters, then I quickly started seeing more pieces on spoilers and pressure pieces popping up in my newsfeeds. That'll stick with me for a bit.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Journalists would be big. We're releasing this through the fall since we're ultimately looking at electoral reform issues and we want to be bringing those up while people are interested in the election. Also happy to talk to anyone who may be interested in distributing the film. We're doing it free online right now. We got the money to produce it through crowdfunding on Seed & Spark.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Americans are frustrated, and so many people blame the 'system.' Well, saying the 'system' doesn't help a whole lot when trying to identify a problem to solve, so hopefully our stories inspire people to break things down a bit more, find the part of the system they want to try and change, and go act on it.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Why is it rare, not normal, for their to be more than two major candidates in a US Presidential Election?
Would you like to add anything else?
We recently released episode one on debate access!
The YouTube link doesn't have a ton of views, but the video has been getting a lot of love on Facebook from various third party support groups.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Hah. Well, it's just John and I. We're writing the script for our second episode on state ballot access and a voting reform initiative called Ranked Choice Voting.
Interview: September 2016
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A political documentary that asks: Why is it rare, not normal to see more than two major candidates?
Length: 4 21-24 minute episodes.
Director, Producer, Writer: Jake Simms and John Farrell
About the writer, director and producer:
One Super Tuesday, which seems like ages ago, made it apparent that Donald Trump was going to be the Republican nominee. Not shortly after, a poll was released with Gary Johnson getting 11% while 75% of the people polled didn't actually know enough about him to have a real opinion. To Jake, that indicated that there's something brewing in this country. Whether or not it takes form in this election.
A random "how's life" checkin call between old friends put flames onto a spark of an idea, so Jake moved from LA to DC, and we were off to the races.
Key cast: Jake Simms, John Farrell, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): journalists, distributors
Funders: crowdfunded through Seed & Spark.
Release date: Continuous through the election and a bit beyond.
Where can I watch it in the next month? You can watch it now. Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKONtwoKIlfN6sQ5-JBRdJA