The 2016 presidential election is finally coming to an end, but The Orchard is just getting started on “11/8/16,” the follow-up to Jeff Deutchman’s 2008 documentary about the election of President Obama, “11/4/08.” Produced by Deutchman and directed by more than 40 filmmakers who will capture footage from all over the country on Tuesday, November 8, the film represents the most ambitious Election Day documentary ever produced.
Filmmakers contributing to the project include “Suited” director Jason Benjamin, who will be following Lena Dunham as she volunteers for the Hillary Clinton campaign; “Bombay Beach” director Alma Har’el, who will be following Clinton’s director of video Sierra Kos; “Being Evel” director Daniel Junge, who will be follwing the Los Angeles Times’ assistant managing editor of politics, Christina Bellantoni; and “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” director Alison Klayman, who will be following NPR journalist and radio show host Dave Davies.
Other participating filmmakers include “Pete’s Dragon” director David Lowery, “Why We Fight” director Eugene Jarecki and “China Heavyweight” director Yung Chang. The full list can be found here. More than half of the filmmakers will be live-streaming their raw footage via Periscope using the hashtag #ELECTIONDAY, offering viewers a sneak peek of footage that could end up in the finished documentary.
“It’s a counter-programming to what everyone is going to be very anxiously following Tuesday,” Deutchman said of the live-streaming effort during an interview with IndieWire on Monday. “People are going to be checking the news all day and checking their social feeds, and I really like this idea of providing a third stream of content that that is more human and gives people the opportunity to step into other people’s shoes.”
Unlike “11/4/08,” which focused on Obama supporters during the night of his election, “11/8/16” will feature a demographically and ideologically diverse cross-section of the U.S., with subjects in more than 30 states. “There are a lot of segments that we want represented, including Republicans who are alienated from both candidates, progressives supporting Jill Stein and Libertarians that are supporting Gary Johnson or Evan McMullin,” Deutchman said. “The goal was to try and convey — as much as possible — the multitude of perspectives that exist in the country right now.”
While a few of the individuals in the film are public figures or have a direct connection to the election, the vast majority will be everyday Americans. Some of the subjects in the documentary include a Republican police officer in Missouri, a Montana farmer supporting Clinton, a West Virginia coal miner supporting Donald Trump, a Sikh taxi driver in New York City, a homeless brother and sister in Honolulu, a group of Latina teenagers in Chicago and a group of Native American activists protesting the oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
“You never know what you’re going to get, especially when it’s such a limited period of time, so it’s a risk, but we think it’s a calculated risk,” said Danielle Digiacomo, a vice president of acquisitions at The Orchard who is an executive producer on the film. “I definitely think we’ll end up with something that’s really interesting and great.” The other executive producers on the doc are The Orchard’s Paul Davidson and Brad Navin and Cinetic’s Dana O’Keefe.
The team behind “11/8/16” aims to edit the film in time for a major festival this spring, followed immediately by an official release. The film will be edited by “Rubber Soul” director Jon Lefkovitz. But will audiences still be interested in the presidential election five months after it’s over?
“People are still interested in watching something recorded on an incredibly momentous day in history, no matter who wins,” Digiacomo said. “I actually think it will stand the test of time and will be really fascinating to look at even for decades to come.”
Deutchman views the doc not so much as a follow up to “11/4/08” but as another chapter in what could be an extremely long-term project.
“It was always my hope that this would be a series that I could continue to contribute to, almost like a Michael Apted-style “Up” series for election days,” he said. “Our goal is for these filmmakers who are following all these interesting people around the country to really allow everyone to step into the shoes of people who they may or may not agree with as they are interacting with civic engagement on Election Day. Hopefully it will make people generally more empathetic in all directions.”