(SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - July 26, 2013) - Campaign Productions is pleased to announce that its recently completed documentary — The Campaign will begin a national rollout across Public Television on Sunday, August 18th, 2013, 11:00pm PST, with a premiere presentation on KCTS-TV in Seattle.
Funded by ITVS and distributed though NETA, The Campaign takes a heartbreaking and inspiring look at California’s No-on-8 Campaign to defend same-sex marriage, which unfolded in 2008. Through an intimate ensemble approach, the film unfolds as a human drama that follows five ordinary people compelled by a passionate belief in equality. Early on, we meet Holli, Claudia, Richard, Anne and Alison — an unstoppable group of activists, volunteers and campaign workers whose stories are the heart of the film. Each has a specific reason for answering the call to take on Prop 8, and each manages to stay motivated to fight one of the largest social issue campaigns the U.S. has ever seen. Their collective experiences in real time provide a window into a timeless story — what inspires everyday people to opt in for something bigger than themselves, win or lose.
Five years in the making, The Campaign marks the long-form directorial debut of Christie Herring, an award-winning filmmaker based in San Francisco who grew up in Mississippi and studied documentary at Stanford University. Herring began the journey of making this film in May 2008 as a volunteer on the No-on-8 campaign herself. “When Prop 8 landed on the ballot, I was shocked that my rights were about to be voted on,” she reflects. “I signed up to volunteer for the campaign against it, and the moment I walked through the doors of the ‘No on Prop 8’ campaign headquarters in San Francisco, I knew I’d walked into a film I had to make.” Herring adds, “I quickly gained exclusive, unprecedented access to insider moments from the campaign that no news outlets would ever carry. It became apparent that my contribution to the Prop 8 political firestorm would be to document it.”
As Herring helps viewers develop a level of closeness with her contemporary characters, she also chooses to place them inside a larger 50-year national story exploring the battle for recognition of same-sex relationships since the 1950s. Lushly edited archival sections bring together rare and unseen footage of gay life with seminal broadcast clips and political ads that help put a human face on the marriage debate over time. Key events establish an historical timeline with common themes recurring on both sides. Gay activists who fought for mainstream recognition of same-sex relationships were most successful when focused on making gains in legal protections and partnership rights, and these advances were largely incremental ones won at the state and local level. Opponents of gay marriage responded with consistent negative political messaging and messengers who provoked fear of gay people in mainstream America. In particular, Anita Bryant’s famous “Save Our Children” campaign of the mid-‘70s emerges as a key theme that was actively repurposed as a core component of the Yes-on-8 message.
When Herring’s story lands squarely back in 2008, just days before the election, California’s Proposition 8 takes center stage. The film then returns to its characters: the mixed-emotions they feel with unfolding family relationships; their self-empowerment through activism; the struggles they navigate in deciding how much to personally sacrifice for the cause. In the end, people drive the story of The Campaign, from their initial confidence that Prop 8 will be defeated, through their frustrating experiences of unfavorable polling numbers, to their heartbreaking 52-to-48-percent defeat on election night, and the turmoil beyond. We see the lives of real people in the balance, not polished representatives.
The Campaign is a co-production of Campaign Productions, LLC and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). It runs a public television hour and is both directed and produced by Christie Herring, and produced by Brook Holston and Academy Award-nominated Marc Smolowitz (The Weather Underground). Academy Award-nominated Sari Gilman (Kings Point) is the editor. The original score is composed by Jacob Garchik and recorded by Kronos Quartet. Original animation is by Christopher Gaal of Crazybridge Studios. For more information about The Campaign, go to; www.TheCampaignDocumentary.com. To arrange for interviews, call 415-290-5812.
Distribution Addendum - July 26, 2013
In late June, The Campaign was launched with back-to-back successful world premiere events in San Francisco (Frameline37 Film Festival, June 23) and Los Angeles (KCET, June 25), with an eye toward maximizing the film’s potential to join with an historic moment for same-sex marriage. When the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Prop 8 and DOMA on June 26th, Herring began filming the latest iteration of the Prop 8 story again. She says, “In recent months, I had developed a structure and style for the ending of the film that could accommodate a range of outcomes from the ongoing Supreme Court case.” Within days of the film's first round of premieres, Herring and her team filmed, edited, and polished an entirely new ending for the film in time for broadcast delivery. “I really wanted the film to include the most current information possible for public television viewers. For the people in the film, The Campaign now has a happy ending, but more so an ending that reflects a sense of closure and reconciliation around Prop 8. That our premiere and the Supreme Court announcements occurred in such close proximity proved the film is being released at the prefect time and with great momentum going forward.”
As part of a rolling period of distribution through Public Television affiliates, Herring and Smolowitz have focused outreach and engagement efforts on establishing a balanced mix of national and local partners, making sure that The Campaign is poised to help bolster public conversations in many settings where perspectives on same-sex marriage are varied. The Campaign will premiere on KCTS in Seattle alongside a forming slate of public engagement programs designed to highlight local stories. In November 2012, Washington was one of four states that put same-sex marriage before voters, and for the first time marriage equality won in all four states. “Public Television is going to be a powerful home for The Campaign, especially given the exciting shift in the zeitgeist at this very moment,” said Smolowitz. “Over the air public television continues to be a very important place for timely and historic documentaries like the one we’ve delivered on same-sex marriage. In this setting, we have the potential to be speaking to the widest possible audience for a film of this kind.”
To see the latest list of confirmed airdates for The Campaign around the country, go to www.itvs.org/films/campaign and click on the TV icon under “HOW TO SEE IT.”