Interview with Filmmaker Jesse Grace (Democracy Vs. The Big Lie: The Truth Behind Mail-In Voting)

What motivated you to make this film?

My co-producer, Steve Weiss and I were approached by the Colorado Office of Film Television and Media to produce a documentary on Mail-In Voting. We have a great relationship with the Colorado Film Commission and have worked on a few projects through their office – they are awesome! At the time, we were wrapping up a documentary for them called Tuning Out the Pandemic on the music industry during Covid – that film was actually nominated for a Heartland Emmy.

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Almost 2 years while we both worked our full time jobs as professors in the Journalism and Media Communication department at Colorado State University. We were simultaneously working on 2 other documentaries. We do almost all of the writing, shooting and editing ourselves.

How would you describe your film in two words!?

Covering Controversy

What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The never ending controversy surrounding Mail-In Voting and the election results. We thought the story would end with the election results in 2020, but it still continues today – figuring out when to stop was the main challenge. I can’t tell you how many times we thought we were done and then another layer of the story would be added in the daily headlines.

What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

We were very excited that it was so well-received and appreciative the story is now reaching a larger audience! It was encouraging to see that the audience take away was in-line with the message we were trying to convey.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I started nearly ten years ago as an undergraduate. I was producing mostly short-form content – documentaries were a pipe dream until 2020.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I was obsessed with Chasing Coral for a while. Although it’s not just a specific film, I am a huge fan of Netflix Explained, the short explainer documentaries by Vox.

What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I appreciate anything that showcases and encourages filmmakers to follow their passion by telling important stories. I am inspired when I see what techniques and stories others are using and telling. It is also super helpful to get feedback on our work.

You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Film freeway is great – easy to submit to. Would be great to see some more communication about the actual festival and how it works on Film Freeway.

What is your favorite meal?

Any vegetarian Indian curry.

What is next for you? A new film?

I am currently in the post-production phase of a documentary on wildfires in Colorado – so a lot of editing! (Also co-produced by Steve Weiss)

I am expanding my efforts to find projects both within and outside of the documentary genre. Perhaps some travel related projects…anything that allows me to tell stories about interesting people and important topics.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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