Editor's note: This is part one in a two-part series.
2012 was a big year for documentary films by conservative filmmakers with Runaway Slave, my own film Fear of a Black Republican, and 2016: Obama’s America hitting America’s movie screens. Before making a big announcement at CPAC 2013 for his newest collaboration with Dinesh D’Souza and Gerald Molen, John Sullivan was gracious enough to have a “Filmmaker Conversation” with me about his previous project 2016: Obama’s America. Undoubtedly, John’s film was American documentary film’s moment of the year and the market responded with a domestic gross of over $33 million. The film generated many controversial headlines, some false charges and a ton of consternation from the mainstream media and President Obama’s supporters. As we’ll see in this two-part interview, the sun hasn’t set on 2016: Obama’s America and its talented Director, John Sullivan.
KW: How did you come to be a filmmaker?
JS: I was a concert promoter for fifteen years, then transitioned into filmmaking. Actually, through the internet. I saw that the internet was going to be a great vehicle. We started doing concerts on-line and decided that everyone was going to be a broadcaster at some time. Went to film school and then started doing commercials and production work. I thought I wanted to do special effects and hated it. (Ha-Ha). I missed the production side of the equation, but I decided to kind of put it on the shelf. I thought I was going to get a Ph.D. in Philosophy and I got roped back into a movie called Expelled with Ben Stein and then connected with Dinesh in about 2010.
KW: What do you like most and least about documentary filmmaking?
JS: The thing I like most about documentary is that it is issues-oriented and you’re capturing a reality in that. The thing I like the least is that I just want to blow stuff up and I don’t ever get to do that! I’ve been on sets of really big movies and it’s cool to see really big action-sequences [done]. I love movies too and you’re a little bit limited in the imagination because you have to stay in that realm of reality. However, with 2016, we took some really good creative direction in the recreation scenes we did with Dinesh back at Dartmouth and stuff like that. And people really appreciated bringing that element to a documentary. Rather than it just be talking heads or something like that. I’m really encouraged. I just saw The Men That Built America. That was the most amazing series I had ever seen, which combined reality along with re-creations. I think that’s kind of the new format for a lot of documentaries.