While Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss have collaborated on multiple projects, “Boys State” was the first that required the co-directors to both be on set in Texas. Despite having to sacrifice time with family, the married couple agreed that their “creative marriage” on this particular documentary led to a project they could share with their children.
“We’ve never made a film, honestly, that we could share with our kids,” McBaine said during a conversation with Variety’s senior TV editor Michael Schneider. “And one of the great and profound joys of this particular film was that they were at the premiere, and they laughed and they cried and they gave us the thumbs up. And that’s a new experience for us in this whole sort of journey of having a family and making [a movie] … just the first time where those two things overlapped in a really beautiful way.”
Moss added that the filmmakers’ children, the eldest in middle school, were interested in engaging with the film’s political discourse and learning more about unscripted filmmaking. He continued, sharing the first time he saw René Otero, one of the movie’s protagonists and a student at the University of Texas at Austin.
“One of the beauties of unscripted filmmaking is somebody could enter from stage left, who you’ve never met before, who just blows your mind,” he said. “When René stood up to give the speech, we had not met him before. … So we went up to him right after that moment, which we happened to capture on film because we were just rolling, and we said, ‘Rene, you don’t know about us, but we know about you and would you be in our film?’ And he said, ‘Well, sure,’ and he’s remarkable.”
“Boys State” made its debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won the grand jury prize for documentary. It is now available to stream on Apple TV Plus.