By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
And you went down to Alabama and to the National Voting Rights Museum.
That was my favorite part of my journey. That was the place I always aimed to get to. Selma was the place that affected me the most in my research, because of what people went through there to ensure themselves and everyone the right to vote. The selfless acts they did. I was so inspired and so moved.
And you explored the suffragist movement.
Because of hearing stories about the suffragist movement, and having Bill Maher tell me, which didn’t make the documentary either, that his mother was unable to vote. And realizing that women didn’t have the right to vote until 1923.
It’s unbelievable when you think about it.It’s fucking crazy. I’m still really not sure that young people understand how recent all of this was.
How much of the documentary did you write yourself?
I wrote all of the voice-overs for the documentary. I tried to keep them very short and, again, very un-opinionated. Except when it came to things about myself. I’m free game with myself.
The documentary shows you on the Wesley Clark bus, during the New Hampshire primary, reading a Washington Post article about you with the headline “Get Off the Bus, Angel” and looking very upset by it.Well, when I read it, I was really discouraged. My God, this hurts. This feels raw. I don’t want to be a celebrity doing this. I got a lot of those headlines. That just happened to be my favorite one.
And in the next scene, you’re looking out the window, and we see your eyes, and you almost look like you’re going to cry. Was that at the time your reaction to this article?
That was a true moment. I had just gotten off the phone with my publicist, who said to me, “All this shit’s going down. They’re ripping you apart. And they want an explanation as to what you’re up to.” And I said, “I don’t know what I’m up to. I’m up for learning. I don’t want to exploit this.” Because I have this theory that if you tell people what you’re doing before you do it, it takes the air out of it a little bit. I think it goes back to that theory that the more you talk about something, the more you give it away. And I think if I talk about it too much, I could get stuck in a fear of what people think about it. I just want to stay true to myself. So if I’m quiet, I’ll stay closer to my instincts that way.
So you made the decision to just keep your mouth shut and do the work.I was just processing it in that moment. The thing is that after my first reaction, which was ouch, I felt, “This is exactly what fucking politics does to you. It tries to make you feel stupid. And it tries to disenfranchise you.” And I said to myself, “I swear to God, I’m going to do exactly what I’m supposed to do, which is keep going, keep learning, keep staying on this journey. Do not get sidetracked by this bullshit.”
So you think the political process wants to make voters feel stupid.I can’t figure out why. It’s so ridiculous. You have one side of it where people are trying to disenfranchise and repress voting. Or be so highfalutin that they’re alienating everyone. On the other side, you have the most soulful individuals in our history, doing the most brave things human beings can do within their capacity to ensure and enable the right to vote. And it’s an incredible dichotomy. They should come together. They should not battle each other.
Back to the documentary, I can’t imagine you had a hard time getting people to talk to you, given who you are.Oh, you’d be surprised. I got turned down more than not. I swear to you, there were so many people who wouldn’t accept us. We had a lot of requests where people were like, “No, I don’t get politically involved.” “No, I don’t have time.” We were turned down a lot. To the people who did show up? God bless them. We were like, “Really, you’ll do us?” We were so bowled over by that. My producer would chase people into the bathroom.
Where did the money come from for the documentary?I financed it myself.
How much did it wind up costing?It ended up costing just a couple of hundred thousand dollars. I certainly know that when you look at Michael Moore’s credits, he made certain films for $50,000, and his more recent films have cost in the millions. We all traveled very economically, mostly by trains and automobiles. We all took the cheapest flights we could find. We all stayed in motels, and I can’t tell you how fun that was. We just had a real intimate vibe. Everyone did this for no money. I’m more used to producing anywhere from a $5 million to a $150 million film. You just don’t see people doing things for free that often, even the nicest people in the world.