EXCLUSIVE: Charles Booker, the Democratic Senate candidate who narrowly lost to former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath in a close race in Kentucky, is set to have his campaign documented by American Relapse and Bernie Blackout director Pat McGee.
Booker’s campaign was gaining steam right up until he lost to McGrath by a narrow margin this week.
McGee has been embedded with the Booker campaign since the Kentucky House of Representatives member handed him access during the past few weeks.
Booker, who was running on a platform of universal health care, a Green New Deal to tackle climate change, systemic criminal justice reform and universal basic income, only started his campaign in January and was endorsed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon.
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His campaign bounce to win the right to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky came during the COVID-19 crisis, coupled with the Black Lives Matters protests, of which Booker was a key supporter, and the killing of Breonna Taylor in the state.
McGee, who runs his own production company, Pat McGee Pictures, told Deadline that once the Sanders campaign “ended abruptly,” he turned his attention to Booker, calling him a “fascinating person.”
“I’m always trying to find a story and it doesn’t matter what your politics are,” he said. “As a storyteller, it has all the layers and ingredients. There is a very powerful story, the David vs Goliath story, can a black man cut through the clutter and get elected in Kentucky? When his campaign started taking off, it became a microcosm of what was going on in the rest of the country. It was incredible to see his connection with people from all sorts of backgrounds. He speaks the language of struggle because he grew up a poor black child … and it resonated with people.”
McGee is directing and exec producing the project, which has echoes of Bill Clinton doc The War Room and AOC film Knock Down the House, and working with director of photography Gregory Taylor and co-executive producers Adam Linkenhelt and Terry Hahin.
McGee said he’s going to “stick with the story” despite Booker’s loss. “I don’t know how it ends. I think it’s still a powerful film [even though he lost]. I thought the primary would be Act 1,” he said. “We will continue shooting until there’s a natural end point. The story dictates the film, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
He admits that the independent feature filmmaking business is a “very risky” business and that he will consider a number of release plans. “I don’t want to rush it and do the story injustice unless there’s a reason to,” McGee said. “If there’s a reason to get it out sooner … who knows, a buyer may come by and want to get involved or we may remain independent and create our own timeline.”
Formerly SVP Development and in-house exec producer at T Group Productions, McGee most recently produced Bernie Blackout for Vice and the feature doc American Relapse, which turned into Dopesick Nation for the youth-skewing cable network. He also directed YouTube feature documentary The Deported starring Rosario Dawson.
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