Running With Beto: Exclusive first observe HBO’s Beto O’Rourke documentary


There have been two apparent approaches this tale could end. Either the underdog, Beto O’Rourke, would win his grassroots 2018 race for U.S. Senator towards the Republican incumbent, Ted Cruz, and grow to be the first Texas Democrat elected to statewide office in nearly 25 years.

Or — and this changed into usually the more likely finishing, statistically speak me — O’Rourke might lose. Which (spoiler alert!) he did. The twist was how close he might in the long run come, and the real story turned out to be how O’Rourke could rocket from his role as an incredibly unknown 3-time period congressman from El Paso to a presumptive presidential candidate.


Running With Beto, this link opens in a brand new tab, a personal documentary following O’Rourke’s frenetic campaign as he crisscrossed the Lone Star State, traveling all 254 counties in two years, will make its global most beneficial Saturday at the SXSW Film Festival, earlier than airing on HBO on May 28.

In EW’s extraordinary first have a look at the movie (above), O’Rourke is actually going for walks — as he frequently did at some stage in the campaign, sometimes on Instagram this link opens in a brand new tab, now and again even as keeping town corridor conferences — via Washington, D.C. In voice-over, he explains the origin of the campaign.

“We have been watching the returns for president, trying to determine out what’s occurring,” he recalls. “Somebody simply won an election by defining us as being scared and small and afraid. So we just — what are we going to do? And out of that communique came this idea: What if we ran for Senate?”

Post-run, flushed and sweaty — O’Rourke is almost continually sweaty — he adds, “Nobody requested us to do that, so — simply got to maintain that in mind. That’s how we started. And that’s how we have to maintain it.” Asked off-digital camera to make clear, O’Rourke says, similar to the poster’s tagline: “Gotta run like there’s nothing to lose.”

Director David Modigliani talked with EW about his rock ’n’ roll film inspirations, the race to preserve up with almost seven hundred hours of footage they shot, and why he picked up the digital camera himself for key scenes. (No phrase but on whether O’Rourke, who spent a while in punk bands in his kids, would possibly hit the level on the screening or some other place, or make any huge announcements at the same time as doing so…)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When was the instant you knew this is what you desired to be your subsequent film? I’ve study approximately this three-hitter returned in first 2017this link opens in a brand new tab…
DAVID MODIGLIANI: To see him on this hay bale in his dirty baseball uniform speaking for the primary time, I assume all of us who have visible he talks in an individual sense a completely unique magnetism. You experience a generational political talent in his potential to hook up with, empathize with and encourage the people who he’s speaking to.

That sounds like what a director would say approximately once they located an actor they knew they could be a celeb.
It wasn’t just about him. The component that made it sense like a movie changed when he described the type of campaign he became going to run: going to every county, not taking PAC money or having pollsters, displaying up to have the verbal exchange in person. This is politics as it could be, and he will set out on this journey to check the principle of the case. Whereas Cruz represents — to each human being on both aspects of the aisle — many factors that people experience are wrong with politics. There’s a truely sharp comparison between the 2 of them. I became feeling after the 2016 election how disconnected we’re from one and different, and what kind of we dehumanize each different in politics, and how that drives human beings out of the process. And right here is someone trying to bring the human connection back into politics in a simply exciting manner.

What had been the influences which you delivered to this? I changed into thinking about The War Room, which observed Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. The biggest idea to me is D.A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back [a documentary about Bob Dylan]. This film turned very similar to following a rock band on the road who went from virtual unknowns to country-wide sensations and didn’t exchange a component the entire time. Kept identically gambling the same songs, saved traveling inside the same small van. Don’t Look Back has a beautiful kinetic feeling to it, very informal in the visual language.

You sense the intimacy of the relationship between the filmmaker and the subject. I am certainly giving Beto, as thanks, a Blu-ray reproduction of Don’t Look Back — he turned into a punk-rock band, loves the song, and likes Bob Dylan. A movie that follows a fact-teller who’s connecting with people profoundly and placing a country on a fireplace — and then trying to navigate that experience is an entirely suitable inspiration for this film. I don’t suppose that it’s a coincidence that D.A. Pennebaker is going on to make some of our favorite political docs, along with The War Room. We had small remarks screening in New York earlier than we locked photo, and Pennebaker came — he’s ninety-three years antique, no listening to the resource, entirely cogent, surely loved the film, and that turned into enormously meaningful. He has usually been my idea as a filmmaker.

What changed into your method for taking pictures this?

We had a virtually small team. This is a movie approximately people attempting new things, in that Beto was doing this unique marketing campaign. I began trying something new, a form of stimulation via them. I had in no way used a camera before. I’d been merely fortunate to work with undoubtedly gifted cinematographers. However, those moments were so intimate. The moments have been so fragile that it really needed to just be me from time to time. So I shot some of this film myself, which turned into undoubtedly daunting.

No sound, no something else?

Yep. I shot the scene within the film wherein we’re in the new room of the debate and their kitchen on election morning.

The film is financially and creatively independent from the marketing campaign. How plenty of a negotiation changed into that?

When I talked to Beto approximately the possibility of creating this movie, I told him that it would need to be entirely separate and that they wouldn’t have any manipulation over the cut or any get right of entry to the photos. It says a lot about Beto to make a courageous desire like that, to let go of control over a very intimate piece of work that become going to capture him, his own family, and his youngsters, and this whole marketing campaign revel in that he would flip they keys over to me on that. He believes in transparency, and he desired to absolutely walk the stroll on that. And he is a pupil of history, and he believes in a report for the report. I think he knew that if he changed into letting someone capture and record this tale and were tied to the campaign or the campaign had any innovative manipulation over it, it might simply be written off as propaganda. We have been absolutely on the identical page approximately that. I had promised him in go back that we might by no means get inside the manner of different media doing their job. So information crews that desired to spend time within the van or needed to spend time with him, we weren’t getting within the way of them getting that message out into the world.

Did that get entry to change because the marketing campaign going on?

After the NFL kneeling video went viral, this link opens in a new tab, and the race nationalized, and there had been 30, 40 cameras showing up at those small-metropolis activities throughout Texas; they have been dealing with a deluge of requests and the improved strength of the humans around them. That changed into making it difficult to even get again to the van leaving the venue or drag out of an automobile parking space because the car turned so mobbed. We had constructed a foundation of considering, and his key touring personnel has certainly affected the person and responsive with us even if she— got clearly loopy. Beto and Amy [Hoover Sanders, O’Rourke’s wife] allowed us to come back into the kitchen with them on election night once they had lost the election. Their invitation to me to come to be with them that night time and capture that on digicam to me cemented the commitment that they’d made to transparency and to assist in seizing the story of their experience. That became a genuinely profound moment for me as a filmmaker in terms of navigating a filmmaker-challenge courting.

What did it feel like for you in that second?

As the campaign won steam inside the closing months and became this national phenomenon, I commenced feeling an extra and more duty to do a fantastic process with this film, to capture and talk the enjoy. And on election night, I turned so targeted on making sure that we were taking pictures of the moments that might permit me to tell the tale — I don’t understand that I felt a whole lot else. I felt empathy for what our subjects had been experiencing, but I became focused on ensuring that I didn’t drop the ball and did my task in the one’s situations. When I awakened the morning after the election, I felt an even greater, stronger sense of electricity and pleasure about the film, due to the fact I knew that it changed into even more urgent now to tell the tale of what this campaign supposed to the human beings that have been a part of it and to the movement that had swelled at the back of him. It very a lot felt just like starting something, now not the give up of it.

How did the men from Pod Save America end up as a production companion?

The Crooked Media group has been worried about this movie, in reality, nearly considering that its inception. Tommy Vietor, one of the co-founders, and I went to high school together, so we’ve acknowledged each other for 25 years. When I was given the entry to Beto, and they learned more magnificent about him and were intrigued by him, they have been willing to come on board. That helped us with some early momentum in investment in the movie. They had been worried lengthy before all of us notion that Beto could win this race, and literally years earlier than everybody notion he may be a part of the 2020 verbal exchange. They furnished a few virtually high-quality, innovative remarks on a few cuts of the film. They obviously have no longer been involved in documentary filmmaking at all, but as former Obama speechwriters and Tommy turned into an Obama spokesperson and press secretary in Iowa in 2008, they realize lots about narratives — and in addition they realize plenty approximately politics and the shape of a marketing campaign, the manner that politics is being included, what’s being ignored in that coverage. Their insight and comments as we pulled the edit collectively were genuinely helpful.

How awful a lot were you looking to make feasible films simultaneously, for a win or a loss?

We did shoot over 700 hours of pictures. I knew we had to begin editing earlier than the election — we started about six months earlier than the election with editors. That helped us hold tempo with the photos. It helped me get a sense for what we had been doing right and what we may want to go higher, and in the final months of the campaign, it helped me get a feel of what do we need as opposed to being entirely reactive and feeling we need to shoot each 2d of each day.

But which film have you been making?

Our plan A constantly was, he has danger, but permit’s face it, he’s maximum likely to lose. I had a tough time convincing human beings at the start that there has been a movie right here, even within the case of a loss. I might always use the instance of the film Street Fight, approximately Cory Booker’s mayoral marketing campaign in Newark, N.J. That film — Booker loses that race. The movie changed into nominated for an Academy Award. By Oct. 1, we had a tough operating cut of the first -thirds of the film. There were truly three scenarios in my thoughts: He pulls off this top-notch disillusioned, he loses near, or he loses badly. For the most component, the storylines of these first two scenarios are very comparable. The developing traction of the campaign. The strength that blooms behind them. The battle and the challenges and moments of frustration at the marketing campaign path — they were all going to be on this movie either manner. It’s the reaction to the consequences of the election, the closing 15 mins of the film — that’s what felt like it would swing the most in both manners. It wasn’t as binary as those are the winning scenes, and these are the dropping scenes — unless he had poorly misplaced, in the long run, this was going to be a hopeful, inspirational movie.

Are you still capturing with him?
We wrapped in this undertaking. Obviously, there’s a variety of speculation on what he’s going to do next. I just awareness on my task — to tell the tale of this primary breakout campaign.