While Sarah Palin spent the Memorial Day weekend on her brilliant media manipulation bus tour (forcing her adversaries in the news media to play the pathetic role of paparazzi desperately trying to find Hollywood’s latest meltdown-prone starlet, and then whine about it), I was synthesizing a few short thoughts on the new anti-Palin book and pro-Palin documentary which made news last week before the fixation with the bus tour began.
Since I produced the only movie to date largely on Palin (and the only one for which she has done an interview), I have been asked a lot about my thoughts on the new film, which is scheduled to debut in Iowa soon. My general response has been that I think the idea of a documentary that seeks to reset Palin’s career narrative, especially regarding her resignation, is excellent.
In fact, I had suggested a similar concept to the Palins back in late 2009. For the record, had I been asked to produce (which I was not) this project now I would not have had either the resources or the inclination to do it in the manner which has been reported.
Based on what I know of the filmmaker and the content, I am confident that The Undefeated will make for great and important viewing and I wish the film all the best. However, I do have several questions/concerns about how much political impact it could possibly have.
Based on my experience with Media Malpractice, getting butts into seats for a political documentary is no easy task. Unless there is a huge budget for promotion, the film will have to live off of free media, which the largely horrendous record of conservative films shows is a precarious strategy.
As an example, I did a screening in the spring of 2009 in Anchorage, Alaska with the profits going to a local charity. We had Todd Palin, Sarah’s father, and her brother all in attendance (along with rumors she would be there) and the help of consistent radio promotion on two popular radio shows. Still, the state’s largest theater (about 1,000 seats) was still at least 40 percent empty.
While this film has already created a great amount of media buzz, it is almost entirely because of what people presume the creation of the film means (that Palin is running for president) and not based on what is in the film itself, which by definition is going to be at least somewhat “wonky.”
I have my doubts that, even in Iowa, huge crowds will pay theater prices to see a film about a former politician’s record in Alaska. Of course if Palin herself decides to show up at several screenings, that would obviously change, but that might also be politically dicey because then she will be tied by the hip to a film that she technically had nothing to do with producing.
But even if I am wrong, it still doesn’t mean the film will accomplish what it apparently seeks to, which is to change the minds of those Republicans who have been persuaded (mostly by the media) not to like her. This is because the only people likely to see it (especially if she isn’t there) are those who are already die-hard Palin fans whose minds don’t need changing.