October 13, 2008

Celebs Get on the Voting Train

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

Film director Sue Kramer (Gray Matters) is the mastermind behind the YOU VOTE campaign. She answered a couple of questions about how the project happened.

Women & Hollywood How did you come up with this idea?

Sue Kramer: I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a co-chair of the creative coalition's presence at the DNC and RNC conventions this past summer (other co-chairs were Tim Daly, Kerry Washington, and Tom Fontana.) I had been working all year and was very involved and obsessively reading everything and trying to be as educated as possible. When I went to the DNC I felt that the country was united. When I listened to Obama's speech I felt he was talking about non-partisanism and he was so inspiring about unifying the country and I walked away passionate about the country. Then I went to RNC and I felt different and it wasn't because I am a democrat. I felt like their speeches were about division so I thought to myself what could I do to show that this country is unified and that this is not about us and them, or he and she.

Hollywood has been criticized forever in terms of being completely democratic and only caring about democratic causes, especially because people think Obama is a celebrity endorsed presidential candidate. I wanted to show that all my conversations with people who came with the Creative Coalition were really more than just being a democrat or a republican, that people cared about the country as a whole. So I came up with this idea and approached Robin Bronk at the Creative Coalition and asked if they would be interested in this video.
Robin introduced me to John Paul DeJoria who owns Paul Mitchell products and he gave us a grant for production and I called my producing partner Jill Footlick who produced Gray Matters and I started rallying the troops asking people to work for free and they said yes and one by one we started getting celebrities.
From the time I came up with it to the time I was finished was just three weeks. Everybody wanted to be involved and were passionate about the project.
W&H: What do you hope this accomplishes?
SK: I hope this gets people out to vote for the candidate of their choice. I want to show it in a passionate and positive way. This is your right. This is the moment and you need to go for it.
W&H: Why is the Margaret Mead quote so integral in the video?

SK: It's one of my all time favorite quotes. It's been hanging in my office for the last ten years. I believe in it so much because I really believe it just takes a small group of people to make incredible things happen. Many people get scared and say that I'm not going to cast that first stone because it's not going to make a big difference in the world. But it actually does. That's why I put the vote dance in. Because I wanted to show that this is a joyful experience.

W&H: Talk about the You Vote anthem - Today.
SK: I called my composer Andrew Hollander who also writes songs with his wife Dana Parish. I called them at 11pm and told them that I was looking for an anthem -- something powerful and joyful. And she said well I'm really busy let me see what I can do. When I woke up the next morning at 8am there was an email with the song. They went to the studio and recorded it. We worked on the lyrics and now everyone is commenting on the song.
W&H: What's next for you in your career?
SK: I am deciding between two films (that I have written) to shoot in the late spring.
The video is going to be seen on 1,000 movie screens and on Verizon cell phone and of course and all over the web.