Honestly, I didn't come up with the idea until halfway through election night, when I got a bit of a wake-up call. I thought I knew the narrative of our country. I was wrong. I decided to embark on making a film to kind of re-color my spectrum of understanding of who we were. To really listen and communicate and actually tune in with the pulse of our country.
I grew up in Los Angeles, went to college in Boston and live in San Francisco. As much as I'd like to say that I'm pretty accepting and knowledgeable of the large swaths of our country, I've lived in bubbles. This project was my way to try and give an accurate portrait of our country in this period to anyone and everyone who wants a platform to share their voice so we can start to communicate and become more united and less divided as a nation. This was my way of beginning that conversation.
So you’ve got a website where people can submit videos from their smartphones or computers between now and Jan. 20, and you’ve got a team of filmmakers doing some interviews as well. Then somehow you’ll stitch them together into a cohesive narrative?
That's the goal. We are running full force right now with filmmakers and submissions. The narrative of this film has been a little bit elusive. Every week, every cabinet choice, every event that we film, every rally, every film, every protest, every submission we get, it shifts a little bit.
What questions are you asking people to answer in these videos?
One of the questions that has been the most engaging for me has been, 'If you could give Donald Trump one piece of advice, what would it be?' The primary answer from all parties, all affiliations, so far, has been to listen. I think that's one of the most common threads. Everyone, even if they're a Donald Trump supporter or their passionately against him, they don't think he listens. They really want him to step back and just be a little bit more careful with the people and the voices and the lives in this country.
Robert Rosendary is doing a thing called the Patriot Walk, walking from California to Washington in the 73 days from election to inauguration. He's staunchly Republican and conservative, and he's been very critical of President Barack Obama. And he wants to listen, he wants to hear all perspectives. So it's quite aligned with the goals for our project. We both want to unite, we both want to listen. And we want to do our small part in bringing our country to a place where we can communicate and empathize with each other to get closer.
It's an unprecedented time, and it's important that we capture it honestly and carefully, and with the best intentions in mind, which is what we're doing with the film.
This is supposed to be a nonpartisan, unbiased film. You and the other filmmakers are based in San Francisco, a progressive city, in a state that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton. Are you worried that may skew the perspectives of the film?
I'm not worried that it's going to skew it. We've had multiple instances where, as soon as I've done interviews in the streets, people will ask if we're with team Trump. Because we've become so objective in our questioning, and I've been able to check my beliefs at the door.
I can imagine it would be really cathartic for people participating, getting interviewed or interviewing themselves for this film -- but what are you hoping the viewer will take away from it?
I'm hoping the film we make allows people to really assess whether or not they have been open and accepting and truly listening. Hearing people about their struggles, their strifes, their fears, their worries, their sorrows. Regardless of political affiliation, everyone wants the same common goal of happiness, and love, and safety, and warmth. And we all have different ways of going about that.
In conducting these interviews and seeing the submissions, I can see that and I can feel that. And I'm changed already, in a massive way. I interact with people day to day so much more open and in the moment and present. I hope that same sentiment resonates with people if they see this film at home in the movie theater.