"Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?" (original post 6/29/06)
Thank you Danielle from Indiepix for inviting me to the screening of Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?last night. I really enjoyed the film, and getting to meet & greet the filmmaker Frank Popper. Please find below the notes I took during the Q&A. If anyone attended the screening, and wants to add something I may have forgotten, please do so in the comments section. Cheers! - Brian
The Film Panel Notetakers Notes From
WOODSTOCK IN THE CITY
Sponsored by Indiepix
Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?
Makor/Steinhardt Center, NYC
June 28, 2006
About the Documentary
Frank Poppers Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, which made its World Premiere and received the Audience Award at the 2006 Silverdocs Festival, is a riveting, edge-of-your-seat story about Jeff Smith, a 29-year-old underdog campaigning for Congress. With a group of like-minded idealists, the young spitfire, lacking experience, funding, and even familial support, tirelessly campaigns against career politicians backed by the wealthy and powerful. Inspiring and rousing, Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? is proof that there is still room in our increasingly corrupt, corporatized political system for one determined individual to incite change. Woodstock in the City film summary
Q & A with Director Frank Popper
A native St. Louisian said he isnt much into politics, but enjoyed the film, and asked how Frank came about making this film.
Frank said he thought about doing a political documentary for a while, and heard about Jeff Smith at a Donna Brazile speech. Frank wanted to make a film on how the system is tough on people like Jeff... Nepotism toward the political legacy of Russ Carnahan as Jeffs main opponent in the race. The films producer calls it an optimistic tragedy.
Frank entertained the possibility of shooting this as a four-part series, but turned it into a feature instead. It shows how the system can be broken, but that its also fixable. Wanted to give audiences a general sense of the system.
Frank thought Jeff was a really nice, yet tough guy himself. At first Jeffs campaign staff wanted Frank out of there, but kept him in because they thought they might be able to use some of the footage for Jeffs campaign. Frank went onto shoot Jeffs short campaign documentary, which they made 10,000 copies of and handed out to constituents. Jeff wrote thank you notes to all of his campaign contributors. Result of primary election was that Jeff won the city vote, and came in first in the county, but was trounced in the rural vote, coming in narrowly behind Carnahan. Jeff was never really running against Carnahan, just the Carnahan name.
How much did Frank spend to make the film?
Spent over $3,000. Shot on miniDV. It was easy to just shoot it. The hard part was getting it finished. Took about two years to complete.
Does the film have distribution?
It will be at Landmarks Tivoli Theatre in St. Louis on July 27-Aug. 3. Also playing in Washington, DC, sometime in September.
Had Frank ever shot a political documentary before?
No. This was Franks first feature documentary. He previously worked on smaller, corporate videos.