Friday, October 22, 2010
11/4/08 - Obama/McCain Presidential Election Day, a date declared historic well before it ever happened. Director Jeff Deutchman commissioned friends across the globe to contribute to this unique living document by asking them to film the chatter, the atmosphere, the last minute voting push, the skepticism, the hope, the celebration, the feelings and reactions of people around the world on this day.
At Monday's Penn Bookstore Cafe Cinema discussion they used this film as an example of Omnibus filmmaking. Deutchman didn't set a shooting schedule, or location shots, I don't believe he shot any of the footage, although that would have been a good question for the Q & A (see below). Instead he used emerging technology and the web as his aides in telling this story. He was more like a seamstress sewing all the materials together.
I really thought more people would be interested in seeing the outcome of this experiment, but although we were watching the film simultaneously with viewers in 20 other cities around the country, our venue here in Philadelphia was sparsely attended. Could this be because the subject matter doesn't matter anymore already? As we approach mid-term elections, does anyone even remember the feelings of hope, change, making history, or the sense of accomplishment depicted in this film? Of course Deutchman is also mindful to show the side of those that were never on board; and those planning to vote for Obama, but resigned to the fact that real life affecting change does not happen, no matter who is in office.
If at this point in time, President Barack Obama had turned out to be some kind of "Horse Whisperer" able to createbi-partisan calm. If he had turned out to be the embodiment of some ancient folklore come to pass - a man will come from the sea, and move to the mid-west and then east, his name will strike fear in the hearts of many, but he will be a sign of a new day and age.
Then perhaps last night's house would have been jam packed. But, in my opinion, the fact that he's proven himself to be a good man, working hard at an impossible job, only gets a smattering of interest.
This did remind me, I don't have film footage to submit to this project, but I did blog my idealistic emotions on 11/4/08; well, it was after midnight, so the blog date says 11/5 click HERE to read.
20 other cities may have been watching the film, but we were lucky enough to have Jeff Deutchman at The Philadelphia Film Festival for a Q & A. His laptop was projected on screen, so that other viewers could tweet in their questions. Multimedia at it's best!
Q: Were you and the others that submitted the footage Obama supporters? And if he hadn't won would there have been a film?
A: Personally, yes I am. And once I began receiving footage, it was clear it was not going to be an even handed depiction of the Obama and McCain camps. What it became was a portrait of Obama supporters and a portrait of enthusiasm. A look at what happens to people when living through a moment that's exciting to them for what ever reason.
A: cont. If it there hadn't been a victory, I think that there still could have been a film, it might have been a film about disappointment and that also could have been interesting.
Q: How many hours of footage did you receive and how many hours on editing?
A: I received about 50 hours. And watched it all through the first time and then captured a lot of it into Final Cut Pro and then started watching it a second time, this time observing patterns, and began picking the most compelling footage, creating a 5 hour assembly and then kept wittering it down. (film runs 70min)
Q: How did you choose the ending? why did you choose to include the serene shots of New Dehli and Geneva instead of stopping at the champagne and celebration?
A: I've heard that from a lot of people. One way to answer that question is, I received footage of that happening after the celebration, so in the spirit of having a very natural depiction of what happened I wanted to include it. But beyond that, thematically, for me this film became about the tension that existed even within the camp of Obama supports: idealism vs skepticism. Q: (tweet) Did any of the filmmakers contribute to the editing process?
A: No. I edited it by myself, although I did get notes from some people along the way. However, on the website, where we're still collecting footage from 11/4/2008, we've opened it up to other people to edit their own versions of the day. As a web project, I want it to be more democratic and participatory, it doesn't have to be a feature film, but all of this footage and more is available on the website to download and do whatever you want with it.
My Q: Have you tried to get it to The White House, has Obama seen it?
A: I have tried to get it to him through 2 or 3 different channels at this point, and there hasn't been a response. I'm not sure I necessarily expect a response; it's the kind of thing it's probably too risky for them to respond to in any public way, but obviously I'd be curious.
Q: (tweet) Have you ever been involved in collaborative filmmaking before this and do you plan on doing any more?
A: This is my first. My focus is still on this film and the website. I don't have any other ideas at this time.
Q: Did you have any standards in terms of the picture quality and formats and what were the formats involved?
A: There were no standards. I lucked out in what people sent me. There was stuff I had to leave on the cutting room floor because it wasn't watchable enough. But for the most part what you saw was a mixture of DV formats, some HD some not, some came from Europe, so it was in the pal format, some shot on cell phones, flip cams. Every possible digital format was submitted to me. Luckily, Final Cut Pro had just released a version that allows editing multiple formats in a single time line.
Q: (tweet) Where can we purchase the film?
A: It's screening tomorrow in NY at Lincoln Center and then coming out on web On Demand channels - You Tube on demand, Amazon, Cinema Now and Sony Play Station. It's also available on DVD in the lobby here in Philly.
Q: (tweet) Did you purposefully choose to release the film leading up to the mid-term elections?
A: Yes, there's a big question not just amongst Democrats, but anyone who cares about democracy, as to whether interest in politics extends beyond the charisma of a single person. Even beyond this election, voting always drops at mid-term elections, but the goal is to minimize that. My hope is that this film can potentially inspire people to remember why it's important to participate.