Romney filmmaker ‘skeptical’ his documentary would have changed 2012 election

Alex Pappas | Political Reporter

The filmmaker behind the new Netflix documentary on Mitt Romney says he is “skeptical” his film would have changed the results of the 2012 presidential election had it aired before American went to the polls.

Director Greg Whiteley’s documentary, “MITT,” focuses on Romney and his family’s experiences during his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. It features six-years-worth of behind the scenes footage of the Republican nominee and his family.

Some reviewers have noted it shows a more authentic Romney than the one seen by the public during the campaigns. It’s been suggested more voters may have accepted the Republican presidential nominee had they seen Whiteley’s Romney.

During a call with journalists on Wednesday, Whiteley noted that Romney’s son, Tagg, “felt very strongly that a film like that could come out and help him.”

“I wasn’t so sure,” Whiteley told The Daily Caller. “And I remain kind of skeptical. I think that the footage gets viewed differently during the fervor of an election.”

“Now that Mitt is not a candidate and he is not going to be a candidate, I think you can kind of relax and see the footage as it is,” he said.

Realistically, the filmmaker said, “I’m not sure how the movie could have come out before. Just because we hadn’t filmed the end yet.”

“My deal with Mitt Romney was I would not release anything until he was done running for president or he was done being president,” he said.

The documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last week. It begins streaming on Netflix on Friday.

Here are other excerpts from the conference call with Whiteley:

On Romney campaign access: “They were reluctant to have me film anything. Period. So that forced me to turn my camera exclusively on the Romneys. And to be quite honest, I really never saw myself as a traditional journalist. I was given this access — I can’t quite explain how I got it. But since I did, over the six years that I filmed them, I just noticed things went better when I kept my mouth shut, I blended in with the wallpaper and just filmed.”

On being an a-political film: “The film is very a-political. If you’re looking for a film like the War Room, this film is not that. It is something that is almost the inverse of it. In the War Room, you didn’t have access to Clinton and his family. You had access to George Stephanopolous and James Carville and staff. It’s a great, great movie. My access was the opposite. I didn’t get access to people like Stuart Stevens and the campaign staff. But I had incredible access to the family. So that’s what the movie became.”

On whether he has spoken with Romney on film: “I have. I spoke with him backstage. We were both ushered on together after the premiere. But oddly, I didn’t ask him what he thought of the movie and he didn’t tell me. My sense is he found it a bit uncomfortable. But you’d probably have to ask him.”

On focusing on Romney family instead of campaign staff: “I think when I started, I assumed I’d be making something similar to the War Room or the Perfect Candidate. I just thought, somehow I’ve got this amazing access. I thought once it actually became an official campaign that of course I’d be able to go and get the campaign staff. What changed is the campaign staff wanted nothing to do with the film. So when I had the family being supportive, and the campaign staff not being supportive, it just forced me to focus exclusively on the family. And to be honest with you, I think my film is better for it. Had I been given access, I almost wouldn’t have been able to resist the impulse to focus on the staff and the inter-workings of the campaign.”

Asked about Romney’s infamous “47 percent video” and why it was largely left out of the film: “I just simply wasn’t there when the 47 percent was uttered. When I was with him, I sort of was catching the aftermath. But as you can see in the film, we don’t have a lot of stuff with the campaign. So whatever damage control or spin mode they were in, I just didn’t have access to that. The campaign was very reluctant to have me film any of that.”

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