IndieWIRE, one of the leading online new sources for independent films did a little write-up about The Delegates this past week. Check it out:
Highlighting the Democratic National Convention, Cameron Hickey’s documentary promises to give a behind-the-scenes look at how the delegates experience the convention, while critiquing our democratic process.
Having focused on human rights and social injustices in past films (“Garlic and Watermelons,” “The Alphabet Book”) with producing partner/wife, Lauren Feeney, the thought of doing a film on politics had never been of interest for the two until podcasting earlier in the year at the New Hampshire primaries for DoubleSpeak, an online radio show created by political insiders Matthew and Peter Slutsky. “We knew we were going to the convention and it occurred to me I wanted to do something that had a little more staying power than something that was just going to be interesting on that day,” says Hickey a few weeks before heading to Denver for the convention.
To find their subjects they sent out an e-mail blast to ten percent of the just under 5,000 delegates going to the convention. Hickey says they heard back from 55 interested delegates, including Hilary Clinton supporters who converted over to Barack Obama (some begrudgingly) during the convention, the mother of a solider killed in Iraq, a transgender delegate, a gay Unitarian Universalist Minster and a Iraq/Afghanistan war vet.
Though Hickey is aware of the historical significance of this convention, he says that isn’t what motivated him to make the film. “We want to make something that is a bit different from what you’re going to get out of the news media,” he says. “I would love to be filming one of our subjects and have Obama in the background because we’re not focusing on him while everyone else is.”
Financed through online donations, the film was shot on three HD cameras by Hickey, Feeney and D.P. Jason Martin. Hickey is realistic of his film’s distribution possibilities and hopes to build an audience through the Internet and self-distribute the film. It’s co-produced by DoubleSpeak and Hickey/Feeney’s company Pattern Films.
[For more information, please visit www.thedelegates.net]
Many of you have been asking us about the progress of the film, so here’s a brief update…
We are in the midst of finishing the process of digitizing and organizing the dozens and dozens of hours of film that we shot in Denver. Cameron is working hard to get this done, as well as looking for a top-notch editor to begin cutting some trailers for the film, as well as other highlight reels we can use to begin promoting the project and the post-production.
Over the coming months, we will be working very hard to put the film together, raise the money we’ll need, work out the music, licensing, etc. It will be an exciting and exhausting, but we have a great team and we are confident that this film is going to be a big hit in 2009. We want to once again thank everyone for their support and make sure you stay tune for more updates on DoubleSpeak and The Delegates in the weeks and months to come.
Let’s browse various reactions of interest to last night’s Obamaspiel, shall we? It’s what we thought about back in the nine-hour interlude between our elated trudge away from Mile High Stadium and wondering who Sarah Palin is.
- A copule of nice roundups and linkdumps and wordtubs and speaknotes from the Telegraph and the Guardian.
- In the Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson believes that Obama “largely abandoned his soaring rhetoric of speeches past” but concludes that “win or lose, no politician will ever be able to invest such words with such power.” The Globe also publishes a cautionary note on the international challenges confronting the next president from Timothy Garton Ash.
- In Politico, John F. Harris and Jim Vandehei hear “two speeches crushed somewhat jarringly together”, which leave “a default impression that he is a standard post-Clinton Democrat” while throwing some delicious kittens to the ravenous Democratic alligators with a “more straightforward denunciation” of John McCain.
- Paul Wells of Maclean’s thumps Obama by likening him photographically to two Canadians and one Brit who have never failed to rhetorically disappoint. For our non-Canuck readership, they are André Boisclair (briefly the Parti Québecois opposition leader, considered at once too dull and too slick to win an election), Gordon Brown (not dead, not Jewish, not Canadian), and Paul Martin (the finance minister turned prime minister who took his party from a majority government to a minority government to a thumping election loss in two short years, i.e., the Gordon Brown of the Liberal Party).
- In the Telegraph, Alex Spillius gets caught up in “a tide of emtotion” after Obama’s “most momentous attempt to sway the nation” and praises a speech full of “earthy aggression towards his opponent.”
- In the Financial Times, Edward Luce is more controlled but no less enthusiastic about “a new kind of speech that injected a sense of urgency and relevance” and that represents a well-timed move “from the poetic to the prosaic stage of the campaign.”
- In the Times of London, Tom Baldwin is guardedly pessimistic about the speech. “For all the fluted beauty of his speech, it was a defensive address rooted in his insecurity at having failed — so far — to close the deal with voters.”
- Finally, we will lose major snob points for failing to recognize burbly quasi-neocon Simon Schama, apparently seated near us in the press box. In the Guardian, Schama soars and veers like a giggly high-culture bat:
Architrave alert! Fluted columns! Cecil B DeMille Doric! What a gift to satirists who could lampoon Obama as a wannabe Demosthenes, so self-monumentalised that he seemed to be presumptuously rehearsing the inaugural oath on the Capitol steps. It’s possible that, even after one of the most memorably dramatic speeches in modern American history, they may still be betting on what they think is an eloquence aversion out there in the heartland; the ingrained suspicion that fancy phrase-making is a fig leaf for lack of substance
Sun Going Down
Barack and Michelle
Cameron and Lauren
August 29th, 2008 · 1 Comment
There will be parties tonight, to be sure, and even parties tomorrow.
The work of The Delegates crew is far from done — we’ve got lots of filming to do tomorrow, and we’ll be posting video and text about the delegates’ stories here in the coming days and weeks as we sift through all our material. And there’s a movie to be put together, of course, out of hours of tape and files from three different cameras.
But for me, who’s spent most of the Convention walking around backstage and typing away, it’s the bubble that I will miss. The carnival itself, and the carnies, and the minor accoutrements of the show. I don’t spend lots of time behind the scenes at big-deal things. I am typically all geeked out at being behind the scenes at things that are small deals, or in front of the non-scenes at things that are no deal at all.
The press box is a weird place, suspended above all the action instead of buried under it (like Bloga Scotia and the press filing room in the Pepsi Center), to end this thing. The stands have emptied out but the floor, where the delegates were seated, is still mostly full. They, and us, have been big mahoffs this week, and now we fly back home to be little mahoffs again.
But while we’re still tremendously important to the world: thank you thank you thank you to the DNC online outreach team, especially Sona, Adrienne, Aaron and Lindsay.
9:04 PM: Biden is so used to the spotlight, and Obama so chill, that they’re having an actual dinner-party-farewell conversation out there on the stage.
8:58 PM: No, a head-fake to the climax — not one where everyone’s up on their feet, but one where we’re hushed and thinking. The end comes as a surprise.
Some kind of pop-country song is playing. Where’s Bruce?
Michelle and the kids come out. Everyone loves the kids.
8:55 PM: See? he draws you in with quiet, nodding language. Now for the ramp up to the big climax.
8:52 PM: Stars and Stripes large and small have been distributed liberally throughout the crowd, but the only non-American flag I can pick out in the stadium is a Greek one, which will delight Lauren and Cameron. I have a perverse urge to wave a giant French tricolor just to see what would happen.
8:48 PM: “Yes we can” and “U-S-A” goes together in one cheer. For a thousand political messaging specialists, it drives their eyes into the back of their head and curls their toes.
8:44 PM: “We are the party of Kennedy” gets a bigger “yeah!” than “we are the party of Roosevelt”. Kind of a shame.
8:43 PM: Speaking of tough-guy language, tuff talk about Osama gets a huge ‘oooooooh, no he didn’t’ here in Bloggen Island and gets the audience in the stadium out of their seats and waving flags.
8:41 PM: More than 12%? Someone who is bored and has Excel handy, do the math for us if you’re so inclined.
Equal pay for equal work has become a big trope of the Convention speeches, particularly this and Biden’s. It hasn’t got much attention from the commentariat, but it’s a big part of ramping up big majorities among women to offset McCain’s appeal among men. Dumb men who like tough guys, that is.
8:34 PM: Scrupulous attention paid to gender-balanced and -neutral language throughout, and lots of respect offered to specific women.
Ending dependence on oil from the Middle East in ten years is pretty concrete stuff. It’s only 12% or so, though…
8:27 PM: As it goes on, he gets a a little more comfortable with slight digressions from the text. Nothing Biden-scale, where Joe inserted line after line to the distress of many, but little bits here and there.
8:22 PM: And a new cheer is born: Eight is enough.
8:21 PM: Every other paragraph has a big line in it but he’s getting cheers more frequently than that, of course. If you have a laptop handy, read along when you’re watching the speech on TV; mapping the emotional cadence of the speech to the words on the page helps illustrate how Obama gets it done.
8:15 PM: The speech, via NYT.
The down and dirty, via this guy:
Page 1: Dean and Durbin are thanked first, then Hillary. Big-theme language.
Page 2: Turns to direct criticisms of McCain; “John McCain doesn’t get it.”
Page 3: Links the problems he criticizes to personal stories.
Page 4: Lists economic measures, doesn’t back down on energy: “drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close”.
Page 5: Education, health care, responsibility. “Moral obligation”.
Page 6: The war. “John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.”
Page 7: Controversies couched in unity language. Echoes of ’04: holding firm on positions on abortion, guns, same sex marriage, immigration.
Page 8: Refers to Dr. King without naming him. “We cannot turn back.”
8:13 PM: Half the people in the stadium — and half the press box — has their cameras out.
8:11 PM: There he is.
8:03 PM: David Strathairn (if I’m not mistaken) narrates the introductory video, and the stadium goes dark. We have the text…
8:00 PM: Durbin shouts out the campaign volunteers, who haven’t gotten love so far.
Word from Lauren on the floor that Kerry is chilling among the Massachusetts delegation like a commoner.
7:55 PM: A lull before Dick Durbin introduces Obama.
We were lucky to be among the first admitted in the regular-audience entrance on the west side of the stadium, which was the worst of the two main inlets. Apparently the media entrance was screwed anyway, no no fourth-estate privileges for us.
7:49 PM: Greg Sargent of Talking Points Memo gives Gore’s speech a close read, opining that “he evokes people’s regret about choosing Bush over him as a way to infuse the current choice with even more emotional urgency:.
7:41 PM: The North Carolinan woman, a recovering Republican, sounds like a world-weary character you would meet while eating pie in a coffee shop, which is, I suppose, the point.
7:33 PM: A sequence of reg’lr folks emerges to deliver some working-class proud middle-class straight talk. The second person, a woman from Ohio, is actually quite good and not intimidated by speaking in a football stadium full of attentive people.
7:24 PM: The powers that be have passed out a number of giant American flags. I saw young volunteers struggling to load them onto the elevator earlier.
Surprise Biden appearance!
7:17 PM: We’re among the lucky many to have been drawn to stay here for the Obama speech. Phew.
Susan Eisenhower speaks. The strategy to offset the Republicans’ customary small number of prominent loudmouth former Democrats with a large number of quiet, moderate former Republicans has attracted little notice so far.
Wes Clark comes out in an otherwise obscure lineup of retired military brass and gets a cheer. Guess this will be his only convention appearance.
August 28th, 2008 · 1 Comment
7:08 PM: I thought that the Wave was a 70′s thing, but the Font of Truth tells us otherwise. Michael McDonald gets points for sticking to “America the Beautiful” and introducing his sideman.
7:05 PM: Michael McDonald and the Wave. What is this, 1975?
7:02 PM: Gore gets less enthusiastic applause on his departure than on his arrival. With the relatively low profile of environmental issues so far during the Convention, and McCain’s tremendous vulnerability on green issues, it’s a lost chance to make a real impact.
Or maybe everyone’s saving their rapture for Michael McDonald, up next.
6:54 PM: I take back what I said about this being a great speech from an underwhelming speaker on the level of Kerry’s triumph last night. Gore’s delivery is a bit of a snooze and he’s stepping on some of his biggest cheers.
6:51 PM: “The carbon fuels industry — big oil and coal — have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party and they are drilling it for everything it’s worth.” Point taken, but the many “clean coal” buttons I’ve seen in Denver this week are clear evidence that the same interests have an option on the Democratic Party as well. If you’re going to go all big-think on us with carbon issues, as is entirely appropriate, you can’t convincingly pin it on the GOP as such.
6:47 PM: Al Gore is introduced to the first big welcome applause of the night. Not Bill-caliber clapping, but pretty good.
So far, Gore is pulling a Kerry, giving better speeches now than he did back when he needed to do so.
6:44 PM: Our delegate Laura just got a shot on the stadium Jumbotron. Our everywheryness has rubbed off on her.
6:34 PM: Stevie Wonder is universally loved and brings a smile to every face in the room. His song, not so much. We need a vocoder, a Clavinet, and a horn section, stat.
6:30 PM: Johnny Mac chimes in with a zinger on Burkeman. You wag, you.
Don’t miss the developing tussle between tomcasey and noah, who have different definitions of what’s fair game when discussing political marriages. What does Sally have to say about it?
Stevie Wonder’s up! He loves us!
6:25 PM: Richardson’s speech is the best-received so far tonight, which isn’t saying much. At least he speaks Spanish like a human being; certainly better than I spoke French while being interviewed by Radio- Canada earlier tonight. Then again he grew up in spanishland.
When particularly vigorous cheers run through the stadium, a terrifying rumbling sound accompanies them. Opinion in Blogapore is divided between those who think it’s a sound effect and those who think it’s genuine stomping in the stands.
6:22 PM: We just got a set of excerpts from Obama’s speech labeled “embargoed for release on delivery”. That means we are not supposed to quote the words until they are spoken. Maybe these rules do not apply to the traditional press seated among us, because the New York Times and other outlets are already printing them.
6:17 PM: Richardson is making some pointed comparisons. One of them has to do with the Bush Administration’s support for Pervez Musharraf, which he refers to as “foolishness”.
That’s odd, I don’t remember Musharraf as posing an insurmountable problem to the Clinton Administration, of which Richardson was a part, when he siezed power in 1999.
Meanwhile, Musharraf is talking about moving to New Mexico.
6:14 PM: Unsolicited advice to Tim Kaine: when your words include the exhortation to “say it like you mean it”, you have to say that like you mean it.
6:12 PM: Mark Udall comes and goes unnoticed while we figure out seating here in Blogskatchewan.
Tim Kaine is up now, quoting from the Gospel of Matthew and dropping in some Spanish here and there. He’s talking about faith, which hispanophones are assumed to have much of. Maybe not the ones I know, but I move in odd circles.
Tremendously underwhelming talk about faithity faith faith faith. Obama dodged a bullet by not picking this guy, at least speechwise.
6:07 PM: Various outlets have been pointing out that everyone at MSNBC seems to hate each other. Even Eric Alterman, a thoroughly mainstream commentator who burdens one of the oldest American weeklies with his nattering, turns it into a fake-insurgent nyah-nyah at the “MSM”.
It’s all news to us; when our Matthew or Peter are on, it’s all love.
5:54 PM: Sheryl Crow is playing a song that was “inspired by the Dalai Lama”.
So long as we’re having a Guardian-heavy day (and really, when are we not?) and the UK papers just went to press, let’s review some recent favorites from our second-favorite London broadsheet:
- Melissa McEwan watches cable all day and thinks up clever things to say.
- Steve Bell‘s sketchbooks, a regular feature of British party-conference season, are among my favorite little bits of the Guardian site. They make me brighten like a nerd.
- Daniel Nasaw runs the numbers of Clinton’s and Biden’s speeches. It is a thankless task of which many outlets seem enamoured, so it’s usually done sketchily. Nasaw’s summary is so comprehensive that his TiVo remote must be a smoldering wreck by now.
5:41 PM: The “Yes We Can” song just concluded. It derives most of its schlocky power from the parade of CSI supporting players and other celebrities I only half-recognize, and was an enormous dud without them.
Willhelm.von.Iammenheimer is seemingly never without that dorky hopster hat he’s always wearing in bad Black Eyed Peas videos. He’s probably got some Wyclef/Rogaine hairline thing going.
Did the band totally lost track of the words? They seemed to be only vaguely synced up with the the taped Obama speech. Was that achingly sincere York, PA resident and Scott Ian lookalike Ed Kowalczyk playing guitar on stage? I couldn’t see.
Martin Luther King III is speaking, and it’s clear that the rhetorical apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
“On some questions, cowardice asks, is a position safe? Expediency asks, is a position politic? Vanity asks, is a position popular? But, that something deep inside us called conscience asks, is a position right?
Sometime we must take positions that are neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; we must take them because they are right!”
5:26 PM: Bill Richardson (coming up in an hour or so) will contrast Obama’s positions on the Iraq war and other foreign-policy issues with McCain’s.
5:18 PM: The texts of speeches are being chaotically handed about and they’re playing U2. My colleagues have pointed out that I don’t really like any of the musicians that have come through the convention so far. My colleagues know me well.
Someone in the room is whistling along. That’s not annoying at all.
5:12 PM: The football robocam is hovering and panning across the field, bearing a disturbing resemblance to an Imperial probe droid surveying the icy wastes of Hoth. I think they could use some icy wastes out there, actually.
MLK III is very round, and has a hectoring voice. There’s something wrong with his collar.
5:02 PM: I have been a fan of Grauniad blogger Oliver Burkeman this week, but he’s pressing his luck here in Blogchester. He’s been filing and running in a way that leaves his laptop and his station — which are precious and in short supply — unattended for half-hour chunks. Ooh, I think he just got booted — but without drama. Doesn’t the Guardian have regular press-box credentials? Asahi Shimbun does.
4:53 PM: So far we had an opening musical warmup from the Yonder Mountain String Band, Colorado’s bluegrass princes — not to be confused with Yonder Hill, Montreal’s bluegrass queens. Jennifer Hudson lavished the Star-Spangled Banner with Velveeta and earned a big hand from the passel up here in Bloggessee.
Howard Dean is currently attempting to be statesmanlike, which is a speaking style that does not suit him. In the next hour: John Lewis, MLK III, and Bernice King in a Martin Luther King tribute, with musical interludes from the dreaded Mr. i.am and the even more dreaded Sheryl Crow.
4:46 PM: Crowded doesn’t begin to describe it, we’re jammed in here. One of our DNC online outreach people is reading this from over my shoulder and takes slight umbrage at the phrase, but they have been unfailingly nice at corralling us over the week and they aren’t to blame in the least.
Obama will speak at 8:15 and we will know by 7:30 if we’ll be in here for the main event. Propitiate any local gods you have handy.
August 28th, 2008 · 1 Comment
From the expectations-management department, the general consensus is that Obama will focus on nuts-and-bolts economic issues:
- Politico says that Obama has been studying three acceptance speeches in particular: John Kennedy’s from 1960, Ronald Reagan’s from 1980, and Bill Clinton’s from 1992.
- The New York Times says that the speech will be “workmanlike” and evoke memories of Katrina with references to Hurricane Gustav.
- The Los Angeles Times says that the speech will “be less about the historic nature of his achievement than about his plans”, and quotes Obama communications director Robert Gibbs that the speech will be talk to American “about the pain that they feel in their lives and what we can do to bring jobs back to this country”.
- The Washington Post reports that “many top Democrats, pundits and union officials here this week telling him that he needs to sharpen his message with a tougher line against McCain and a more nitty-gritty appeal on the economy”.
- The Guardian goes into detail on what kind of economic proposals that Obama will be making:
He is to outline tax plans to provide relief for those hardest hit by the economic downturn and to address inequality. He is planning to change the tax code so that families making more than $250,000 (£136,000) will pay more while everyone else pays less. This would be accompanied by moves to create jobs and tackle global warming through investment in alternative energy and the rebuilding of the US’s long-ignored physical infrastructure.
- The Times of London has some juicy sniping from disgruntled Clinton “confidant” who didn’t get the party-unity memo:
“His people do not talk to us or seek our advice. Obama should win as default Democrat in a Democratic year. But his polling is still behind that of the party and if he prevails it will be despite, rather than because, of his campaign. I think the Republicans will rip his flesh off next week, that is what they do. Obama is a novice who has never run against a white male Republican.”