I chatted with Jon Scheide about his upcoming documentary, Acts of Congress, which has just begun raising funds on Indiegogo.
Q: How did you get involved in the project?
I created it. It’s the evolution or distillation of my desire to make some sort of statement going back to the all the radical changes that have happened since 9/11. The Patriot Act, American abandoning diplomacy in Iraq and actually throwing the first punch, Citizen’s United, Voter Act and protection law changes, Wall Street breaking the economy, etc.
As I looked at all the issues I kept coming back to the realization that at the core the only group that could actually do anything, that could make the difficult, informed and patriotic choices was Congress, the people’s voice in the 3 tiers of our government. And time and time again they failed.
So, it finally dawned on me that there may be a window to a film, a record of the time, the zeitgeist, in a midterm year that could be pivotal as we move forward. So I had to wait until the last moment, so all the info, the players, the perspective is current and relative and I need the film to be unencumbered so that I can afford to release it at bare bones coast in order to hit the biggest audience
Q: Why is it important to get made/seen?
If ya piss Americans off, they can do amazing things. Right now the stupidity and lunacy of Congress and our elected representatives is like an annoying tiny drip in the sink, (annoying, but if you turn the TV you don’t notice) but if I can collect all those little drips and fill a bucket then pour it out in one sitting maybe American will get up off the couch and go vote.
Q: What do you think is the main reason Americans have mostly abdicated their power by paying more attention to Kim Kardashian than they do Congress?
It’s so much easier, and being wrong has no real consequence. Politics is hard, very, very, very few issues are black and white, yes or no, us or them. Just look at movies. Studios go for white hat vs black hat easy peasy films that audiences can understand and where they can easily identify with the ‘good’ guy and then leave feeling smart, smug and satisfied. Indie films or the rare “indie type” filmmaker has tried to tell the more complex story; guys like Lumet, Peckinpah, Fuller. In fact, I would bet that most people have no idea the title of the Capt. America film “Winter Soldier” comes from a Thomas Paine poem that compares Summer Soldiers and Sunshine Patriots to the hardcore Winter Soldiers. Or, that this film is supposed to be about Captain having deep internal conflicts while taking down futuristic hover jets with his shield.
Also, it can’t be discounted that the skills of media and marketing pros have risen to the point where they can sell ice water to eskimos… so the ability to craft message and spin in a positive way is much much less transparent and obvious.
Q: Are we too far gone to make any difference?
I don’t think so. If the tools of internet can be used to bring together the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, etc. then there must be a way to motivate people to go vote, and by voting, move the electoral needle more toward the center.