The long-awaited movie about notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell has had one of the more interesting development cycles in the independent film scene.
After crowdfunding platform Kickstarter blocked the movie from accepting donations, the project’s producers turned to rival service Indiegogo for help. The response was unprecedented; the film has secured over $2.2 million in funding from more than 27,000 backers, making it the most successful fundraising effort for a single film in the platform’s history.
In December, Breitbart News reported that John Sullivan, co-producer of Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America and last year’s America had signed on as executive producer on the Gosnell project. Andrew Klavan, whose book True Crime was turned into a film directed by Clint Eastwood, is writing the script.
Earlier this week, the project announced its director: Nick Searcy, best known for his role as chief deputy U.S. Marshal Art Mullen on the hit FX show Justified.
In his time in Hollywood, Searcy has earned a reputation as a straight-talking conservative who is willing to butt heads with some of the industry’s most prominent liberals. He tussled with Sean Penn last year and took Alec Baldwin to task on Twitter for comments the actor had made about gay people. The actor has a history of confronting difficult and controversial topics.
That said, Searcy seems like the perfect choice to tell the story of Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist who was convicted of three counts of murder in 2013. According to the 300-page grand jury report, Gosnell’s medical office was a nightmare, with bloodstained furniture, inexperienced and insufficient staff, and, most horrifyingly, fetal remains stuffed away in freezers, jars, and bags throughout. Gosnell reportedly killed hundreds of babies who had been born alive at his Philadelphia clinic.
Breitbart News caught up with Nick Searcy on Thursday afternoon. In addition to sharing his plans for the Gosnell film, the actor/director discussed what he’ll focus on after Justified ends its run this year, and how conservatives can win the culture war against an increasingly liberal media.
Breitbart News Network: First of all, congratulations on the directing gig.
Nick Searcy: Yeah, it’s going to be quite a challenge. I’m not used to working that hard, I’m used to being an actor. Being a director is a lot more work.
BNN: The IndieGogo campaign for the film was a historic success, raising more than $2 million. What do you think the campaign tapped into that produced such an amazing response?
NS: Well, I think there was a level of outrage about this case that a significant number of people thought wasn’t reflected in how the case was covered. You know, other murder cases were more sensationalized and more media-driven than this one. And it was purely because of the politics. It was being ignored because the mainstream media and others feared that it might be beneficial to the pro-life movement.
BNN: Right. You had told the Hollywood Reporter that you’re planning to address that aspect in the film. Will the film actually address the media’s reluctance to cover the story?
NS: I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s the main thrust of the film, but it’s certainly part of the story.
BNN: Speaking of the story, what’s behind the decision to shoot the film as a crime drama rather than a documentary?
NS: I think there’s a limited audience you can have for a documentary, is the short answer. If you’re able to appeal to a broader market, you can make an entertaining narrative film. Whereas a documentary is something that only a very dedicated number of people are interested in.
BNN: How far do you intend to go in terms of showing the gruesome details about the case? Will the film actually show some of the gory methods that Gosnell used, like “snipping?”
NS: To be quite honest, it’s a fine line we’re going to walk. I certainly don’t see this film as a gore film, or a horror film, or an exploitation film. I see it as a serious crime drama, and what we’re going to do is trying to tell a very sordid tale in a way that the audience can stomach. I don’t think it’s productive to make a film that’s, you know, 15 or 20 minutes into it, half the audience just goes, ‘I can’t take this.’ So we’re going to have to find a way to tell this story in a way that can be handled and yet is still truthful.
BNN: So the film is going for more of a PG-13 rating than an R rating?
NS: I don’t think we’re going to go for an R rating. I don’t think an R rating would serve us well. It may wind up that way simply because of the subject matter, but I don’t think it’s going to be, because there’s a prurient level to it.
BNN: Why do you think the movie is so important to be made right now? Does the film make a broader statement about abortion that’s particularly timely, in terms of things that are going on in the news?
NS: Well, my goal in making this film is to let the facts of what happened in this case speak for themselves, that what Gosnell did makes a point. The fact of the matter about this issue is that about 98 percent of the people in this country have made up their minds about it, and you’re not really going to change them by just telling them what you think about it. What could change them is by showing them something they haven’t seen before, or that they haven’t thought of, without telling them what to think about it. And that’s what my goal is.
I think too many times, filmmakers spend too much time telling someone what to think about a story and not enough time actually telling the story.
BNN: Does the film have an official title yet? Everyone is calling it “the Gosnell movie,” is it just called “Gosnell?”
NS: At this point, yeah.
BNN: Have any actors signed on yet? Have you hired Gosnell yet?
NS: No, we’re not at that point yet. We’re still in the midst of putting together a shooting script that will work, then we’ll get into casting.
BNN: I had read on the IndieGogo campaign page that you have to fit the whole shooting schedule into three weeks. Is that accurate? Are you going to try to film the whole thing in just three weeks?
NS: They’re out of their minds if they think that [laughs]. It’s gonna take at least… Well, I’m not gonna argue with them publicly [laughs].
BNN: Switching gears a little bit here: you’re in the middle of the final season of Justified. How do you feel about it coming to an end? Are you planning on taking more time to step behind the camera, maybe direct other things, or are you looking for your next acting project?
NS: Well, sure, in this business you’re always looking for your next project because you never expect anything to last for more than a month. Six years of Justified was a great pleasure and just a gift from God to have a project that was that good and that lasted that long. So yeah, I’m open to anything. This directorial job came up and it worked out and I’m glad for that.
There’s another movie that I directed that will be coming out this year, a movie I made a long time ago called Paradise Falls that’s going to be re-cut and re-edited and re-titled Carolina Low.
That will be distributed later this year. Who knows? If Gosnell comes out and is fairly well received, I might be doing more directing, and if everybody hates it, I’ll limp back into the acting world.
BNN: Can you tell us a little bit about that Carolina Low project? What is it about?
NS: It’s a film that my friend Sean Bridgers and I, he wrote it and I directed it, we raised the money for it ourselves in 1997. It’s a fictional film about two boys in the mountains of North Carolina in 1934 who rob trains. It’s really kind of a cool film, it’s just beautifully shot. Mark Peterson was the director of photography on it, and it just looks like a John Ford Western. It’s a really great film and I’m really glad that it’s finally found a place and that it’s going to be available for people to see.
BNN: I was just watching an interview you had done on Fox’s Red Eye where you said that conservatives have to “get down in the gutter” and fight liberals on their own terms. Would you mind explaining a little bit more about what that means? How can conservatives win the culture war in a culture that’s increasingly dominated by liberal thought?
NS: Well, in my case, I just try to be as sarcastic and disdainful as they are. There’s this whole attitude I think on the conservative side that it’s dirty and nasty to get down and fight with them, and ‘We’re better than that,’ or ‘We’re above all that.” I think that’s partially why we wound up in this state that we’re in.
Part of the reason Romney lost in the 2012 election is that he wouldn’t fight. In the first debate, Romney comes out and sort of mops up the floor with Obama, and then for a week, the press writes about how disrespectful he was and how awful it was that a man like that would talk to President of the United States and that he was probably racist for doing it, and then the next two debates, Romney backed off, and Obama behaved like a child in those debates. If my 12-year-old boy had behaved the way Barack Obama did in those debates, I would have taken his cell phone away and grounded him for a week. But the press after that was that Obama really won that debate, that he really went after Romney. So I think we have to just start facing the facts. It is a gutter fight, because we’re fighting for the American Idol crowd out there, and they want to see people fight for what they believe, they don’t want to see people that stand there and go, ‘We’re above all this,’ or ‘We’re not going to get sarcastic or say anything mean.’
BNN: Does the Gosnell movie fit into that?
NS: Well, I’ll say this. Just the fact that the Gosnell movie had to be financed and funded by Indiegogo, you know, by going around the Hollywood system, just by definition it is confronting them by taking something that is traditionally their turf, a narrative feature film, and going around the gatekeepers and getting it done because you know there is an audience there for it. The audience has already put their money down and said ‘Yes, we want to see this.’ So I think in that way, I hope in the broader picture, not just about this one issue, that the way the Gosnell movie is being made will be an inspiration to other people who have stories that don’t fit the sort of mainstream, Hollywood, leftist narrative.
BNN: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Do you have any timeline for when we can expect the movie?
NS: Hopefully we’re going to be shooting it in July and August, so that would mean we’re trying to have a finished film by the end of the year.
BNN: Well, I’m looking forward to it.
NS: I am too. Like I said, it’s so much more work. My wife is laughing at me now, she said, ‘You’re going to have to go into work every day now.’ [laughs] Like most people have to do.