9 Days to Caucus

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TYPE
: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production

LOGLINE

A behind-the-scenes glimpse into raw and fickle democracy at the 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucus whose national implications, once considered prophetic, are increasingly murky.

SYNOPSIS

9 Days to Caucus follows to true believers Matt and Susie, a Yang and a Sanders supporter, through the lead up to and chaos of the 2020 Iowa Caucuses, an incredibly convoluted American political event.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

This film will give viewers the sense of what it’s like in Iowa during caucus season; the humor, the frigid weather and the issues that people care about. The caucus is voting that one can physically see. It is possible to watch as people’s decisions are influenced by one another directly in the middle of a school gym, at a door knocking session or in the lively discussions in people’s homes. While the topic--protecting our democracy--is weighty, the film will give a light touch as it shows the problems inherent in an old-fashioned, almost Grecian form of voting. The film will be composed of verité scenes interwoven with a few seated interviews that provide historical context for the caucuses, mostly covered with archival footage. B-roll of the quiet Iowa countryside will be interspersed between scenes. As noted above, I myself will appear occasionally and provide voiceover. My aim is to do this in a minimal way, providing just enough of a presence to engage audiences in the story without becoming a major character myself. As I consider my own role, one source of inspiration is the nonfiction writer Ryszard Kapuscinski, who is able to transport a reader to a moment in history through the lens of his own perspective as he digests and tries to make sense of a moment in time (such as the Iranian Revolution or the overthrow of the colonial regime in Ghana), generally as an outsider. More generally, D. A. Pennebaker influences the film, particularly his film about Bill Clinton’s campaign staff, The War Room. Like that film, The Last Caucus uses short poppy montages with music to break up more naturalistic verité scenes--campaign rallies are shown as montages, while grassroots campaigning and the caucus itself are shot naturalistically. My creative process is one of observing and gathering footage, then focusing in on the characters and stories that naturally stand out. Early on, I cast a wide net in terms of shooting, and typically spend a good deal of time shooting people in a group when they are preoccupied with a task or action so that they are less aware of the camera. This is enables me to capture something as it happens and find the film in the edit room, rather than alter the present into a film as I shoot. Humans when they are unguarded and pursuing something are interesting in and of themselves, so I position myself among them and allow them to shape the story. During editing, I identify the most interesting moments and work to weave them into a complex but cohesive whole, sometimes adding new elements to fill gaps--as in the case of this film, where initial editing revealed a need for a few additional interviews, landscape shots, and animation. My goal throughout the process is to create a truthful work of art through which viewers will come to know and remember aspects of people, places, and events that might otherwise be overlooked.

KEY CREW

Brittany Prater - Director/2nd Camera
Director Brittany Prater is a filmmaker and artist living in Queens. She is an editor on the Animal Planet show Lone Star Law. Her first feature documentary, Uranium Derby screened at film festivals internationally and won several awards including Best Feature Documentary at Art of Brooklyn Film Festival and Award of Excellence at the Iowa Motion Picture Awards. Prater has written comedic narrative feature film scripts and shorts and her artwork has shown in New York and internationally including at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Her work has been reviewed in ArtNews, The L Magazine and Hyperallergic as well as the Kansas City Star and The Des Moines Register. In 2012 she received a grant from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities toward the completion of Uranium Derby. She most recently cowrote and edited the short film If The Shoe Fits that premiered at the Queens World Film Festival.

Don Downie - Producer/DP
Don Downie is a self-taught filmmaker and showbiz polymath who has worked professionally as a director, cinematographer, writer, producer, and actor. TV credits include Sesame Street, Saturday Night Live, and Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. He served as supervising producer on two digital series for The Weather Channel on Facebook Watch, and he directed, produced, and shot the digital series Exit Strategy for TeenNick. His awards include semifinalist for the 2019 Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' Nicholl Fellowship, Critics Award at the 2017 New York Television Festival, semifinalist for the 2019 ScreenCraft Fellowship, and finalist for the 2017 Jerome Foundation Film Grant.

Rachel Loube - 3rd Camera
Rachel Gordon Loube is a director and filmmaker, based in New York City. Rachel’s short documentary film, Every Tuesday: A Portrait of the New Yorker Cartoonists, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012 and won a Student Academy Award® in 2013. She is currently completing her first feature documentary film, Descendants of Devenishuk, a coming-of-age story.

Jessica Burgess - Archival Producer and Video Rights
Jessica Burgess eats, dreams, and breathes stories. She's an award winning filmmaker for agencies like Vice, Vaynermedia, and Gravity Media. Her work has shown at SXSW, Sundance, and Tribeca Film Festival. The co-owner of Little Animals Pictures, a Brooklyn-based production company; creator of fever dream content; teacher at Tisch School of the Arts; and podcast producer, essayist, and daily admirer of life's idiosyncrasies.

Zach Timm - Music Supervisor
Zach Timm is a Brooklyn based video producer and music supervisor with a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment industry creating engaging content for brands and publications. As well as being skilled in Shooting, Producing, and Editing. He has experience in Digital Strategy, Music Curation, Booking, and Live Event Production.

Cheyenne Picardo - Story Consultant
Cheyenne Picardo (Editor) received her BA in Film Studies and Creative Writing from Columbia College, before earning her MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts. Her narrative feature film, Remedy received distribution through Deja-vu (Germany) and Gravitas (VOD). In 2015, her film won Best Feature at the Boston Underground Film Festival. She was nominated for Best International Director and Best Foreign Feature by the Female Eye Film Festival and won the Audience Choice award for narrative feature by CineKink. She has edited documentaries and music videos as well as narrative films.

 

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ACCOLADES

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The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2021

 

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