Grassroots   

by director/co-writer Stephen Gyllenhaal

"Laugh. Cry. Vote for the little guy." 

When we came up with that phrase while finishing the music and sound effects for the movie Grassroots (at Clatter and Din, a Seattle Company) we knew we were onto something. It had been a delightful process making Grassroots in Seattle—the crews, the actors, the locations. I had deeply fallen in love with the place (I think it really shows in the movie). Also, no one told us how to make Grassroots—that's the best part of making an independent film. It was a comedy, so there were lots of laughs. But it's also about politics, a true story that is familiar to a lot of you here in Seattle, so there are some tears too.

But the hardest part about independent movies these days is how to get them out into the "reel" world. How do you compete with the big guys in the movie theaters with their millions of dollars of ad money, their superheroes and their super effects? It almost sounds like the same dilemma for a grassroots candidate, doesn't it?

So a slogan that captures the spirit of the movie like, "Laugh! Cry! Vote for the little guy!" doesn't hurt, especially when people started chanting it after the closing night of SIFF when Grassroots premiered.

It's funny. I've always had this gut instinct from when I first optioned Zioncheck for President, by Phil Campbell, from Nation Books that—just as the story beguiled me—it might deeply move other people who have felt disenfranchised from democracy by the mega politics of super PACs, secret deals and perfectly coiffed candidates.

Is it possible that this one very funny, true Seattle story could reverberate across the years and have an effect on the 2012 election? I truly hope so. That's why in every city, starting when the film opens—where else?—in Seattle at the Harvard Exit Theatre, we'll set up an informal chat between a real local candidate and audience members. Nothing scripted, no handlers, no pre-packaged stump speech. We've learned Grassroots, the movie, generates lots of hope, laughter and talk. So come see the movie, then follow us across the street into your local coffee house after the credits roll, and we'll open up any can of worms you like.

Then maybe you'll feel hopeful, you'll feel like you can make a difference, you'll feel part of the process again. And your talk can become action, and your action can effect real change.

GRASSROOTS!

Laugh. Cry. Vote for the little guy (and gal)!

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