Edward Norton appeared on MSNBC's Countdown tonight to discuss the new documentary he produced about Barack Obama's campaign for the presidency. The film, airing on HBO, is titled "By The People: The Election of Barack Obama," and it began months before the actual campaign.
Norton said he originally envisioned the project as "a kind of long-term political diary... We were interested in looking at politics through the eyes of a new, young senator." The approach they took was that of an archivist trying to capture a moment in history:
We had what we called an operating set of principles. We were very committed to a non-partisan, archivist approach. We weren't trying to make a film celebrating Obama or his campaign or staff. We wanted to record what were the emotional experiences, what was the ethos, what did it feel like to be inside the people who were actually making that piece of history. We tried to draw them out on the emotional experiences they were having, not just the clinical strategy of it all.
Axelrod was not aware of the project until Obama really swung his presidential campaign into gear, and the filmmakers had to convince him to let them continue the project. "It took us awhile to convince him that we were not the media, we were not the short news-cycle press that was looking to exploit what we were getting," Norton said. "That we were in it for the long haul, and trying to make a document of how this took place for the long view."