NEW YORK — Filmmaker Steve Rosenbaum will add an intimate focus to the mix of political documentaries being readied for election-year release with “Inside the Bubble,” a feature that trails the campaign team of Democratic candidate John Kerry to provide insight into the man behind the media image.
“In all election news, the media covers the candidate, not who the guy really is,” Rosenbaum told Daily Variety. “We’re going to try to bash the edges off that media box and show how John Kerry is when he’s with the people he likes and trusts.”
Project grew out of a television series produced through Rosenbaum’s Gotham-based CameraPlanet company for cable net Discovery Times Channel called “Staffers.” In that series of six half-hour episodes, the presidential candidates are the B characters in a chronicle of the primary season that focuses on the crew who pull the campaigns together.
The feature began shooting earlier this month and will continue filming through the Democratic convention in July. Rosenbaum will examine Kerry via his interaction with the immediate sphere that surrounds him, including his personal assistant, trip director, press secretaries and strategic advisers, all of whom will be key characters in the movie.
“We want to give people a chance to form opinions that are not based purely on stump speeches,” Rosenbaum said. “Cameras are usually on John Kerry when he’s giving a speech or a press conference or in a photo opportunity.
“We realized that in none of these moments do you get to see him in anything but performance mode,” he added. “The idea of our film is to show all the moments in between.”
Rosenbaum and producer Doug Davis began putting word out to distributors at the start of shooting the “Bubble” project, which is budgeted at under $1 million. The filmmakers, who are planning a Sept. 15 release, say interest from leading specialty distribs has been high. A deal is expected to be closed before summer.
Pic will take a different approach from “Tour of Duty,” another Kerry doc being completed for pre-election release by filmmaker George Butler, who focuses on the candidate’s Navy stint in Vietnam, his subsequent years of peace campaigning and how each helped shape his political life.
“There’s no intention to make a film that’s either controversial or a political endorsement,” Rosenbaum said. “This cannot be a political commercial or we lose. This has to be honest, revealing, questioning, fun and entertaining. It has to show the ride of the campaign experience with all the peaks and valleys.”
Rosenbaum acknowledges the film’s shelf life will depend largely on whether Kerry wins or loses Nov. 2. However, he feels confident the project’s modest budget plus P&A costs can be recouped in a two-month theatrical run during the election runup. Possibility of a DVD overlap with the theatrical release also is being studied.
Rosenbaum started CameraPlanet fresh out of college, doing longform news TV documentaries, initially for A&E and now for Discovery Times. Company has partnered on various projects with leading nonfiction filmmakers such as Michael Apted, D.A. Pennebaker and Peter Gilbert. Rosenbaum moved into feature docs with the 9/11 film “7 Days in September.”