A truly American horror

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Screenshots from the feature documentary film including over 60 cast members.

60 people were interviewed in the streets of the greater Los Angeles area for this film. Nearly all of them were very articulate, intelligent, well informed thinkers that we like to think of as the documentary equivalent of A-list actors. All of them are in this slide show of screenshots from the film Got Healthcare?.

Cast list:

Lucia Brawley
President Barack Obama (archive footage)
Dr. Irma Strantz
Margaret
Cathy Roberts
Maureen Cruise RN
Karen McGee
June Caldwell
Jerry Caldwell
Henry Shaw
Greg Harrison
Dwight Williams
Elizabeth MacFarland
Maddie Gavel-Briggs
Steven Gibson
Melonie Magruder
Roxanne Morales
Patrick Briggs
Dr. Paul Papanek
Ray Gillis
Wesley Murphy
Dr. Jane George
Ellen Campbell
Sam Pullen
Tony Briggs
Patricia Harris
Bob James
Valerie
Evelyn Bennu
Susan Gregory
Aosta Dimos
Dr. Jo Olson
Betty Seidmon
Dr. Alice Chen
Secretary Kathleen Seibelus (archive footage)
Dr. Susie Baldwin
Dr. Casey Kirkhart
David Busch
Mr. and Mrs. Brian Foster
Stella Kim
Dr. Nikki Mihara
Michael Meloan
Jeff Goodwin
Joanna Joshua
Jasmin Romero
Gilbert Saucedo
Rhonda Hayter
Dr. Paul Song
Dr. Matt Hendrickson
Grigor Sarkisan
Shaylan
Carrie Bible
Valerie Bradford
Michael Moore (archive footage)
Sandra Cannon
Sheila Dvorak
Dr. Margaret Flowers (archive image only)
David Faubion
Matt Britt
Donna Green
Dr. Horace Williams
Joan Holtz
Tom Laichas

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9248149&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Trailer for the 119 minute documentary

Got Healthcare?

Protesters on various sides of the recent health care insurance reform issues, actively debated around the U.S. in the summer of 2009, at street rallies, protests, and town hall meetings give their views to the filmmaker. The film is not formally narrated but instead uses the interviews as a sort of narration and ongoing dialog that explains various aspects of the issues involved, from the question of socialism, to reports of people dying for lack of health insurance, to arrests of protesters at sit-ins.

The film was shot with a consumer HD camcorder with no producer, crew, or script. Highlights include interviews with doctors and nurses at various rallies such as the Hollywood “Mad as Hell Doctors” rally, where Dr. Jo Olson, Dr. Paul Papanek and Dr. Susie Baldwin explain how the proposed public option plan will likely fail and amounts to little more than an insurance industry “jobs program” to protect the insurance industry from it’s demise as a single payer system would do.

Maureen Cruise, RN, very eloquently effectively narrates a sit-in protest at the Anthem Blue Cross offices in Los Angeles, and explains in detail how the public option plans are written by lobbyists and will have little positive effect in her view, how the U.S suffers from health care debt and how we compare to other countries that see health care as a human right.

The question of socialism is explored with Tamara Colbert of the right wing activist group, The Pasadena Patriots, as she points out her take on socialism, while reformers seemingly (through editing) respond with their views that socialism already exists for other public services in the U.S.

Throughout the film, President Obama explains his points as each issue is explored. Michael Moore describes how the foreclosure crisis is a result mostly of health care debt, and how our democracy is in jeopardy with so few controlling so much of the wealth in America.

A cast of over sixty people including the eloquent actor and activist Lucia Brawley and musician activist Sam Pullen (arrested at the Los Angeles sit-in), make for an interesting street survey of the ongoing health care debate.

Background

In the summer of 2009 director Jon Raymond set out to film protesters, town hall meetings, rallies and protests in the greater Los Angeles area, that he felt were ignored by the mainstream media. What he found was a lot of well-informed intelligent people, including doctors and nurses, who explained in detail what was going with the health care system in America.

His approach was to ask opened ended questions, like, “What are your concerns?” and “What’s going on here?” The responses are an education of how and why people die everyday in America for lack of health insurance coverage and more die for denial of care, even though they have insurance.

As the summer progressed the protests escalated into sit-ins where well over a hundred people in numerous cities around the country were arrested at various health insurance companies. The overwhelming call of protesters was, and is, for a single payer system in America. The struggle remains for staunch reformers until that becomes a reality.

Director’s Statement

Health care in America has long been an issue of urgency. But I, like many, was not aware of this fact or the extent to which the problem goes, because I’ve always had adequate health care (not always very good – but adequate). In interviewing people at rallies, town hall meetings, and sit ins, I learned first hand from many experts, people who have been activists who are very knowledgeable, many of them doctors. Most everyone who I interviewed who felt there was an urgent need for reform also felt that the need could only be met with a universal health insurance system such as government Medicare, with no for-profit insurance industry involvement.

It became very clear to me that the people on the other side of the issue were either health insurance industry people (possibly “Astroturf”) or they were those who bought the lies and misinformation spread by them. Many reformers believe the government is in the insurance industry’s pocket and that there will be no real reform until the for-profit insurance industry is removed like a tumor.

So this then is where the lines drawn on the issues stand, though not always clearly. In making this film my approach was to get opinions from all sides. Although I strongly lean toward the doctors’ views of universal coverage, and I believe that what is portrayed as the “left” in the media is actually the middle.

By giving opponents of reform the forum to speak in my film I wanted to expose the misinformation they stand on and thereby discredit it. My plan was to simply let them speak and prove this for me. I believe this is the outcome of the film. Though there are some valid points on both sides, such as the belief that the government is ultimately not working for the people. With the bills currently in Congress we see that progressives and conservatives do often agree that these bills are meritless, though for different reasons.

The right wants no reform because they are happy with things as they are. They are either making money on the insurance industry or they can afford whatever care they need and fear going public will “dilute it” as Margaret says in the film. The left is wary of the current legislation because it is overly complex, with bills of over 2000 pages. They say complex programs never worked, based on history, according to Dr. Jo Olson in the film. They suspect such things are ways to make lots of loop holes for the insurance industry and they believe the current legislation is an insurance industry bailout, as Maureen Cruise , RN, so eloquently states. Though a bailout is the last thing the lucrative insurance industry needs. What it amounts to is even further windfall profits through things like mandated insurance premiums for all Americans.

So I put this film out to hopefully expose and explain the two (and more) sides of the issues, and for people to judge for themselves. I believe the mainstream media has done an excellent job of providing the arguments for the conservative sides of the issues, and even the misinformation (a nice way to say “lies”). I offer this as a way to hopefully show the left that goes unheralded, and to set the record straight on the correction of misinformation.

Production Notes

No Crew

I shot this film with no crew. Well that is if you don’t count the 60 people I interviewed or the organizations like MoveOn and Mobilization for Health Care and the Mad as Hell Doctors, all of whom organized and set up the rallies and sit-ins that I filmed. Then there were the Congressmen and Congresswomen who held town hall meetings. But other than that, I did it all by myself.

This is not so unusual for documentary films, although there is usually at least a producer or interviewer on hand to help out. But the nature of the interviewee driven style made this work. It was also a matter of timing. When this film was started, the small consumer HD cameras were beginning to saturate the market. So it was easy for one person to handle a small camera with in-camera sound and conducive to my style of what once might have been called cinema verite or art films when I attended film school in 1974. The cost now is low enough so that once you have the basic equipment, a camera and sound gear, all you really need is the media and editing software. This was unlike my college days when processing the film for a short was quite expensive in addition to the equipment. I made this entire feature for about the same cost (plus a lot more sweat) that I made a ten minute short for in 1974, and that’s not adjusted for inflation.

I used an old metal tripod usually with only one leg extended as a monopod. It also acted well to steady hand held shots when collapsed. I used two lavaliere microphones and also a camera mounted Senheiser small directional mike.

No Narration: Stream of Conversation

This film does not use a narrator. The film is a stream of conversation of the people being interviewed. They effectively narrate the film and even seemingly talk to each other, through editing. I approached the film with open ended questions, such as, “Why are you here?’ or “What are your concerns?” When talking to people on opposing sides of the issues I would pose the opinion of the other side to get a reaction to that issue. In this way people talk about two sides of an issue and seem to argue with each other, though they never actually meet, and there is no escalation of emotional animosity as there might be if they had.

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