OKLAHOMA CITY — Ann McElhinney says after interviewing convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell for a few hours in prison that he continued to call her cell phone so frequently that she finally had to get rid of it.
She describes him, however, as a narcissist who seemed barely interested in who he was actually talking to. She says the Gosnell project she and her husband are soon to bring to the screen has given her a special glimpse into pure evil.
The 22-day shoot ends this week with the filming of the court scenes that sent Gosnell to prison for three life terms for snipping the necks of three children born alive in his filthy, smelly abortion clinic in Philadelphia. Though convicted on three counts of killing babies “1, 2, and 3,” those who followed the case believe there were many more, hundreds, perhaps thousands.
Among the startling revelations in the case were descriptions of all the neck snipping. In the daylong shoot I watched, an actor playing one of the actual clinic workers describes hearing babies cry and seeing them move before Gosnell or another abortionists would snip their necks. On film, the clinic work describes how she took pictures of some of these victims including one baby boy Gosnell was eventually convicted of murdering.
In the actual trial, Gosnell colleague Stephen Massoff, who is in prison for his own Gosnell-related crimes, described running with scissors and feverishly snipping little necks because there were so many of them. Massoff described the Gosnell clinic walls as running with blood.
Law enforcement officials — DEA, FBI and local cops — who first entered the clinic investigating drug trafficking found a fetid sewer with a mangy cat roaming the premises, cat feces on the floor, the overpowering smell of urine, and then all the blood.
McElhinney and her husband Phelim McAleer are documentarians who came to this their first feature film when McAleer was promoting their pro-fracking documentary Frack Nation in Philadelphia a few years ago. He heard about the Gosnell trial then underway in Philadelphia so he took a few days and watched the proceedings. He said no one was in the courtroom, the media had not noticed the gruesome story unfolding.
The husband and wife team believe Gosnell is one of the worst mass murderers in U.S. history and were keen to tell the story not in a documentary way or even primarily in a pro-life way but as a police-prosecutorial procedural, the better to reach a wider audience.
“It is a true story. Americans love true stories these days, “ she says in her still-recognizable but faint Irish accent. “This really happened in America. He killed thousands of children and people do not know. Additionally, there are public policy implications; his clinic was not inspected for 17 years despite the fact that two people died there. Multiple government agencies failed. This was a serious breach of every kind of governmental standard and we still don’t’ have a answer why that happened.”
The movie is star-studded, quite remarkable for what will be a low-budget and possibly a controversial movie. Dean Caine stars as the cop who doggedly investigated the crimes. If there is a single hero of the movie, he is it. The movie is being directed by Justify star Nick Searcy who is also acting as Gosnell’s defense attorney. Producing along with McElhinney and McAllen is John Sullivan who directed Dinesh D’Souza’s documentaries America: Imagine the World Without Her and 2016: Obama’s America.
McElhinney says the heroes to the story are a Philadelphia cop, Jim Wood, who doggedly investigated the case, and the assistant district attorneys who saw the case all the way to conviction. Working against them has been a mindset in America that there is an exception for abortion in the law and in the media, that anything even remotely besmirching the abortion regime is out-of-bounds, including the butchery of someone like Gosnell.
In fact, the Gosnell story and subsequent trial drew virtually no media attention, only the attention of pro-life activists and bloggers who sat in the nearly empty courtroom as the trial proceeded. At least a part of the movie is how the New Media drove the Gosnell story.
The key moment that broke the story into the national consciousness was an April 11, 2013 column in USA Today by Kirsten Powers that began, “Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven’t heard about these sickening accusations?” She goaded the media to get involved.
She wasn’t the first though. Mollie Hemingway wrote a series of blog posts about the trial and the dearth of media coverage. She even started quizzing mainstream reporters about why they were ignoring the Gosnell trial. This elicited the priceless response from a Washington Post reporter that she did not cover “local crime.”
Because of the Powers column, an empty courtroom on Thursday, April 11 turned into one that was jam-packed with recalcitrant media the following Monday.
One character in the Gosnell movie represents a composite of Powers, Hemingway, and others, including JD Mullane, a local press photographer who published a picture of row upon row of empty media seats.
McElhinney told Breitbart News that many people key to the Gosnell story are not in the movie. “We are not producing a documentary but a feature film and as such decisions had to be made.” For those who want a fuller telling of the story, McElhinney says she and her husband have written a book for Regnery that goes into much greater detail.
The $2.3 million movie was crowd-funded almost exclusively on Indie-Go, this after Kickstarter kicked the project to the curb when they discovered it was a movie perhaps critical of abortion. Twenty-eight thousand donors gave most of that. “We want people still going to IndieGoGo to fund this movie. We hope that number grows to 200,000,” says McElhinney.
She says Gosnell is decidedly not a fun summer movie so they are hoping for a spring or fall release, “but certainly 2016.” They have not yet decided upon a distributor, but talks are ongoing.
There are many unanswered questions about the crimes of Gosnell including the specter of other Gosnells somewhere out in America.
“If this happened in a progressive place like Philadelphia, where else in America is this happening? This cannot be a mentality that is exclusive to one place. What is happening right now in New York and Alabama,” she asks.
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse