Recently I was interviewed for the documentary-to-be, Lies of Omission. There’s now an Indiegogo fundraiser with a three-minute teaser trailer. More footage will be shot and more interviews done if the filmmakers, T.L. Davis and his daughter Sammi Lee Davis, get the support they need from the pro-gun and freedom community.
I recently talked with both T.L. and Sammi by email to find out how their project came to be and what their plans are for it.
1. What gave you the idea for “Lies of Omission”?
TLD: Well, for me it was a frustration in watching lefty documentaries on guns like “Under The Gun” by Katie Couric, knowing that the subjects of the interviews would not get a fair shake, or their answers would be countered by text on the screen or some other editing trick to falsify the exchange.
2. How did you arrive at that title and what does it mean?
TLD: The title encapsulates exactly the feelings from the first question. The media generally manipulates the discussion via lies of omission. They might talk about integrity, but every chance they get to lie through omission, they take it. It’s like this idea that 33,000 gun deaths occur in the U.S. every year. The omitted information is that 60% of those are suicides and that of the 11,000 that are actually homicides, somewhere between 50-80% are gang- or drug-related, mostly using guns in violation of the law. Omitting that information from the discussion is in effect, a lie.
3. Describe the film you hope to make, giving details like how you chose your interview subjects and what the artistic structure of the production will be (along with any other details you want to share).
TLD: That is probably a better question for Sammi, as the director, but as far as how the interview subjects were chosen, I can tackle that well enough. I wanted to draw from the well-informed and intelligent members of the freedomista community that the press never seems to find. They like to set up this NRA or even GOA versus sociology professor dynamic that always makes Second Amendment advocates look like corporate greed and the opposition as just someone who cares about people.
SLD: Artistically, the style was developed to create a need for freedom. Using Americana type backgrounds and the cinematic use of negative space (wide ranges of land with little in the shot) subconsciously leads people to believe there is something missing. I wanted to make sure the message wasn’t clear in the shots, where you can’t really read the message right away. If what I know about this project is true, the message Lies of Omission is trying to convey is a message that those in the Millennial Generation skip over. The point in the cinematic style is to feel something is wrong. Feel that something is missing. Feel that the America that we have known in the past is no longer a reality. As a filmmaker, it is important that I convey the message that surpasses words or music.
4. What are you hoping to accomplish with this documentary? Who are you trying to reach?
TLD: I’d like to reach out to Millennials, or whatever next generation comes along. Since the documentary is not just about gun rights, but freedoms of all sorts that are unique to America, I’d like them to hear some sound advice and come away with a thirst for freedom. But first, they have to recognize how much has already been lost.
5. How will you position and market the film to reach its intended audience of millennials, who might not be looking for a message like this?
SLD: The goal is to reach Millennials, and with that we need to hear the voice of one. As a filmmaker I do not usually like participating in my work, but for this project, T.L. mentioned how it would be more impactful to have my face seen and my voice heard. I am a Millennial and I am by no means ignorant to the political and economical down turn our nation is in. I, like many, do choose to ignore it sometimes. T. L. Davis is my father and I have been unintentionally politically aware my whole life. What I discover is that now I choose to let it be because I see no use in speaking up because my voice is uncommon and unpopular. This may not be what some people like to hear because I seem to be an example of the problem people in this movement are facing. I recognize that the only way I can help is possibly by making this documentary. I will not fully agree or disagree with what this 3% movement is, or even with the people I interview. I found a good story. So I chased it and that means helping other Millennials to have the opportunity to either choose or ignore what is happening. They can’t have that choice if they don’t know it exists.
6. Where do you plan to show the film? Film festivals? Online? Private groups? DVD sales through Amazon?
SLD: I hope this film will get the opportunity to reach out to many popular film festivals (Toronto Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, L.A. Film Festival, etc.). There is a more likely chance it won’t get accepted, but that is beside the point. It’s getting it out there. After the film has gone through the film festival circuit I do not know what will happen to it next. That is out of my hands.
TLD: There are film festivals, that are not traditionally interested in films on this subject, but I maintain that since it is ultimately not just about the Second Amendment, but freedom in general, it might slip under the wire of scrutiny and seem like a relatively safe entrant to cover their “we are not biased” mantra. We’ll see. Otherwise, it will be for sale on the internet, through Amazon and the like and hopefully, parents will buy it and show it to their children. I think Millennials are being slapped in the face with media bias right now, so it is a good time to bring out this film.
7. $200,000 is a substantial sum for a film of this type. How will you allocate those funds? How much to production, how much to marketing, and so on?
TLD: Well, I might have been wrong to put it out there at $200,000 as that is a total for the complete funding of the film. That includes hours and hours of editing, obtaining B-roll shots from all over, post production costs of advertising and setting up Amazon and all sorts of outreach and not accounting for sales in the future, which a normal corporation would be able to cover with a loan from their bank. We can raise funds for that separately, but I hadn’t thought about that when I began.
SLD: Yes, $200,000 may seem like a lot of money, but this is scraping the barrel of paying people to professionally make the film and pay for flying and hotels and equipment. This is average rate for a low budget documentary. There is a lot that goes into making what people see on the screen. None of this money, I assure you will go to waste. Some of this is to also help pay back what money has already been invested in making this film a reality. Every one on the project so far has made some financial sacrifices. This also provides for marketing, and film festival entrance fees.
8. What happens if you don’t raise the full sum? Can you still make and effectively market a scaled-down film for less?
TLD: We can, but there are other forms of funding and some grants we can get if we get close to the goal. As I mentioned above, we get to keep all of the funds and can start a new campaign as soon as this one closes. It is more important to have 1000 $25 contributions than one $25,000 contribution, because it shows interest and allows us to reach out to other production companies to help with the post production part that lowers our cost. I would hate to have to produce a scaled down version as there are still some great people and perspectives I think would round out the end product.
SLD: If we don’t make the full sum …. Maybe we find a way to make up the shortage, or maybe we have to be more creative about who we interview and who we hire. It would be sad though, because this money will make the film stand out and be able to compete out there in the market and get recognition. Though I believe in my ability to create quality, I cannot always accomplish everything without the right tools and crew. So far I have been the sole filmmaker on the project and have needed some assistance from people who have been escorting me to do the interviews. If I had my own crew and the high level equipment, the filmmaking process would be easier and look even better. It is hard for a director to direct interviews and shots and work the sound, and edit the project all by themselves. If I continue to do the film the way it has been shot, well, it will be good, but not amazing. This vision and project deserves to be told at high quality.
9. You have many hours of Mike Vanderboegh giving what was probably his last (and certainly one of his most comprehensive) interviews. How to you plan to use this treasure-trove?
TLD: Initially, just as another voice of reason in this documentary, but if we can create a sort of network, or reliable funding from this project. Let’s say we actually get to the point where we have made the documentary, it is finally making money rather than paying off debts, we will be looking to continue the process and do other documentaries of the same nature. One of which would be a closer look at the Fast and Furious scandal of which Mike Vanderboegh played a huge part along with David Codrea, who we will also encourage to give us a much longer interview covering both subjects.
SLD: Mike Vanderboegh was an amazing interview. I know the recordings of this have been distributed to different places for safety reasons. There is talk of making it a separate film all its own. It was sad to hear of his passing, and I am honored to have been one of the last people to interview him.
10. Anything else you care to add — particularly anything you’d like to say to potential donors?
TLD: Yes, for me, I have been scouring the internet for sources of funding for documentaries of this nature and except for a very limited one or two, there really are no normal sources of funding other than this community of freedom lovers. Now, if we were making a documentary about “social justice” “civil rights” or LGBTQ issues, we could get funding in a few days. But, my pledge is if we can make this one work, hopefully we will be able to self-fund the next few and maybe even turn the corner on this media dominance of the younger generations. One might hope, anyway.
Thank you for the opportunity to get my point of view out there.