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How to Take a Regional Story and Give it Mainstream Appeal

How to Take a Regional Story and Give it Mainstream Appeal

READ MORE: Attention, Documentary Filmmakers: Here’s What You Need to Know Before You Start Production

It’s a David and Goliath story that most New Englanders are familiar with: In the summer of 2014, 25,000 non-union employees and nearly two million devoted customers organized a boycott of the Lowell, Massachusetts-based Market Basket supermarket chain in order to regain control of their company and reinstate their beloved CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

Now a new documentary “We The People: The Market Basket Effect” will tell the story behind the organized boycott and how the Demoulas Super Market family empire was saved by community support.

Two of the executive producers, one of the producers and the film’s narrator, Michael Chiklis, are all from New England.

The film is executive produced by New Hampshire natives Nick Buzzell and Mike Buzzell (NBTV Studios) as well as Robert “Bobby” Friedman and Todd Hoffman (Bungalow Media + Entertainment). Producing the film is Emmy and Peabody Award-winning producer Ted Leonsis, Founder & Chairman of SnagFilms (Indiewire’s parent company), who grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts. Paul Nero (“Power of Few”) is also a producer on the film, which is written by Jeff Pinilla (“The First 36 Hours: an Inside Look at Hurricane Sandy”).

“Having grown up in Lowell, I witnessed firsthand the profound impact this unique family owned business had on the greater Lowell community and all across New England. This is a one-of-a-kind story demonstrating the magnitude of what people can accomplish when they peacefully unite for what they believe in,” said Leonsis.

Directed by Tommy Reid (“I Know That Voice,” “Danny Greene: The Rise and Fall of the Irishman,”) the film, which is nearly done with production, is anticipating a release later this year. Actor Michael Chiklis (“American Horror Story,” “The Shield”), also a Lowell, MA native, narrates the film.

“It’s really this unbelievable story of corporate greed breaking up this massive family empire. It seems almost unbelievable in the sense that there could be this groundswell of employees and a groundswell in the community of suppliers that would literally in effect manage the direction of a big company. 25,000 non-union employees decided to stop working and stop taking a salary, joined by two or three million customers in this boycott of Market Basket just to get back the beloved CEO,” Friedman told Indiewire.

The film was also largely funded by New England locals, with no investor giving more than $150,000 towards the $1 million budget. “It’s this loyal group who grew up there. Everyone who was starting to get involved with us had some stake in that market,” said Friedman. “It’s basically a lot of friends and family and local folks from the community who all wanted to be a part of the story.”

Friedman said they are in negotiations with distributors. “No matter what, this has to be a very entrepreneurial distribution pattern,” said Friedman, adding that they may look for an “unusual distribution opportunity” which focuses on the New England area.

Though the story is well known in New England, the film has a broader appeal, according to Friedman.

“We think this will have a big appeal and bigger numbers than a traditional indie film would have,” he said. “This is a great family drama that everyone can relate to. It’s not just a business story. It’s also, at the same time, a great immigrant story.”

READ MORE: 5 Essential Tips on Producing Documentaries

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