Because we allow viewers to reach their own conclusions without ever being explicitly told what to think, Follow the Leader is a rare film that will be of interest to people across the political spectrum – in an American context where political media is increasingly filtered (in part by viewers themselves) through partisan media. Our non-judgemental, non-ideological filmmaking also aims to motivate viewers to question their own beliefs; it allows room within the film for them to make up their own minds about what they’re seeing. Viewers may come to the film for different reasons and “see” different films, but there is potential for intelligent discourse afterward – and indeed during, through Reality Check – based on a rare shared experience of nuanced media. Interactive elements online will allow diverse viewers opportunities to engage each other through the views of the characters even if not viewing the film at the same time and place.
Implicitly a portrait of the status quo, outreach and engagement work will more explicitly raise issues of inequalities in America, and how we talk about them. While on one level simply a coming-of-age story, for many the film’s approach naturally prompts consideration of gender and racial inequalities by the absence of girls and minority main characters. Our outreach partnerships, and how the film is presented and promoted online, will also encourage viewers to bring this framing toward viewings of the film.
The film asks whether the leaders we typically get can best confront our societal problems, and asks us to rethink the qualities that we want in leaders of tomorrow. Growing up in an age where everything appears online and on Facebook, where disincentives exists for “future leaders” to take personal risks, are those who want to be leaders prepared to lead? And are those who would make “good” leaders put off by the prospect? Intelligent debate surrounding these questions naturally serves this goal, while more interactive elements have greater potential for encouraging the “right” people to enter politics themselves. The film potential lies in provoking discussions that can help the younger generation in particular to create the type of new politics that is often spoken about during political campaigns – but which is proving harder to realize with today’s politicians in charge.