Let’s be honest: this election has us all a bit turnt. Whether you’re #WithHer or #StumpinForTrump it’s pretty hard to ignore the negative allegations stacking up against our Presidential candidates — on the daily. But alongside the allegations, citizens are starting to get more involved with their civil liberties and wanting to make things better. They’re uncovering legislations we can benefit from and having meaningful conversations about growing our tolerance with each other. I’ve also started to see friends use their personal passions and skill sets to express their concerns in more creative ways.
Take Jake Simms and John Farrell; two guys with minimum production backgrounds and very little documentary experience, who started to feel very uncomfortable after Trump’s Republican nomination. And after seeing a poll shortly after, where 75% of those polled didn’t know who Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson was, Simms started to wonder if a connection could be made — why don’t people know more about third-party candidates and what could he do to help change this part of the election?
From there an idea was born and their newly funded web-series, Third Candidates found a life of its own and enough crowdfunding to get the project started. And I caught up with both of them to understand why they decided to use their voices in this election, and how they intend to make a change.
What is Third Candidates? And why are you guys making this series?
It’s a four part video series on what politics is like outside of the two major parties. And we were just curious. Why is it so rare for a third party to be a factor in an election? Given the election environment, we knew there was no better time to ask and figure it out, because we can go and see the effort in real time.
But you guys aren’t filmmakers by trade — What do you guys do for a living?
We’re both doing this full time right now because it was sorta shit or get off the pot. The election is happening now. Jake started his career as a video editor before getting into management at tech startups. John had just graduated from getting his masters and was starting to do science journalism.
And is this your first project like this — a crowdfunded, video series?
Crowdfunding? Yes. Series? Yes. But Jake’s had experience in production and post-production, just typically more one off projects.
So, then, what made you want to take a chance and go for this?
We felt that a lot of the country was hurting, frustrated, and it was manifesting itself in the primaries with Trump and Bernie. We also felt that it wasn’t going to end there, that it would carry into the general election and that a lot of people would be looking at third parties. It’s just a rare moment in time and if we didn’t act on it, it’d be gone.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve started to encounter as your chasing your dream?
Hours in the day. That’s really it. It’s a really ambitious project and in an ideal world, we’d have two more people on the team and an extra month to help us secure awareness and funding. Once we got going, however, we got confident our ability to tell the story and that the interest is there. But to do outreach, fundraising, pre-production, research, production, post-production…you get the idea. We’re slammed.
What are some of the fears you’re experiencing with the project?
Are we going to get access? Can we really do all of this? Am I really okay signing up for four months of nothing but politics and putting our lives on hold for it? My credit card bill is massive, how will I pay it off? Are people going to think we’re in it for a particular candidate?
What’s the best part of taking this leap and chasing this dream so far?
I’m not asking “what if?” In this particular case, staring down the emotions that were up and down over the conventions and sticking to our guns saying, “I get the election is important — so is this.” We’re going to get two episodes done no matter what, so even if we can’t pursue this through the election, we took it as far as we could, which is a lot farther than if we hadn’t done anything.
There’s also the personal challenge, and learning to accept that you just need to ask for help and that doesn’t make you lesser.
What’s one thing you did not know before you started this that you wish you knew?
How much effort goes into promotion and outreach. We just wanted to produce a project, but there’s just so much more to it. I really would have loved to have found someone else to just help us communicate what we’re doing more full time.
What will it mean to you to finish this project?
We took on THE biggest media topic, covered it in our own way, and paid attention to little nooks and crannies that no one else did. The fact that we’re all flooded with information and we still found a unique story to tell is meaningful.
Also, I can go on the rest of our days now not saying, ‘oh we had this good idea once.’
What do you hope the series does for audiences?
Demystifies some things. We have a really complex system that has been built up over time. Despite it seeming so strong, it’s actually still malleable. A handful of organized people can overcome obstacles to make an outsized impact. But, that said, things are kinda sick and it’s not just the individual politicians. There are some changes that can and should be made to the system that could potentially make it breath a little better and only ‘we the people’ can initiate those changes.
So if you’re upset about things…help change it, and hopefully we’ve given a few examples on how other people do it.
Anything else you want people to know about the project?
Yes! It sounds trite but if you are interested in it, tweet, share, like, spread the word, and consider contributing. We’ll only be able to do it all the way through if there’s demonstrated interest – either through hitting our funding goal, or by having enough of a following to convince a larger media outlet there’s a story here that people want us to tell.