Seven novice candidates race for the Seattle's top job against a nationally recognized, well funded incumbent. Only one opponent is politically savvy, but all are tenacious when facing far reaching political grip held by the city's current mayor. Hopes, dreams, fears and concerns are revealed as the question of whether, out of a pack of underdog candidates, one will emerge as the next mayor of Seattle.
As the stakes rise, a bicycle-riding idealist and environmentalist captivates the city. Consistently out-funded and out-spent by heavy-weight contenders such as the incumbent mayor and the vice president of an international corporation, this idealist's humble yet poignant remark, “Heroes of the campaign are the volunteers...” underscores the essence of his campaign strategy. His army of young and tireless volunteers, nicknamed the “Jobless Skoolkids”, defies the traditional reliance on money by injecting into the formula pure passion and determination.
Two candidates move beyond the primary. Their march towards the finish line offers a candid look at the multi-facetted nature of the political game in modern America. Commentaries from political pundits weigh the struggles and consequences throughout.
Reach the broadest audience / Inspire civic involvement.
Tasks at hand:
Today: Secure financial support.
Tomorrow: Seek distribution worldwide.
On-Going: Deliver a film of the highest quality.
From the producer
At the onset of the 2009 election season in Seattle, Washington, I kicked off this project by invitation from a friend to document the process. As a politically agnostic but law abiding citizen with newly attained skills in videography and NLE, I welcomed the opportunity to step into an entirely unfamiliar world of politics and the chance to tell a unique story.
My request to follow the mayoral candidates' campaign activities were met with interest as well as hesitance. Eventually we had the privilege of being given access to document their activities on the campaign trails. Only one candidate did not respond to my numerous attempts to be reached.
When asked to participate in this documentary project, Mayor Nickels initially agreed. At a candidate endorsement forum, with a broad smile on his face, he responded, "Sure! Talk to this guy." pointing to a young man standing next to him. Mayor Nickels quickly moved on to talk to others waiting, equally eager, for a handshake. However, as the campaign progressed my repeated pleas to schedule an interview failed to elicit any response. My attention repeatedly turned to the underdogs scrambling for the one, post-primary, spot on the ballot.
Who were these opposition candidates? Why were they running? What lessons were there to be learned? With one exception; a City Council Member, none had previous experience in the political spectrum, and most were virtually unknown to Seattle voters. Intrigued by the candidates' motives and with a bit of skepticism, I and my fellow videographer, armed with a Panasonic HPX170, followed them as they entered the race to challenge the seemingly unbeatable incumbent mayor known for his cash-laden war chest and power grip in the political circle. Behind the camera, we watched as they subjected themselves to public scrutiny and sometimes ridicule.
At the onset of this project, my time was divided between a career as a Software QA Manager and my passion as a filmmaker. For better and worse, barely a month into production, I lost my job of 13 years due to corporate restructuring. It was a time of uncertainty, but the contagious passion and energy of those involved in the race kept me going. As I got to know the candidates, I saw authenticity and sincerity in their desire to make a difference. The volunteers on each campaign were all inspiring, but the dreamy eyed Jobless Skoolkids were especially infectious. Their stories had to be told, and I've given all my heart this past year, to bring them to you.
It's been a great and formative experience, and I remain profoundly moved having captured this empowering real life story. I've come to firmly believe that anyone who runs and stands for public office, with a genuine interest to serve, should be honored.
Finally, I offer my sincere gratitude to those who opened themselves and enabled us to capture these precious moments of legacy in the making. It has been a fascinating journey.