“I don´t think there has been a more critical time in American history as far as an election goes“

Interview with Eleven Films founders Tiffany and James

One day, I looked at Twitter and almost everyone had retweeted a video about Trump´s Impeachment. I watched it, I retweeted it, and I watched it again. Since the first week of February I watched it many times because also Trump was not convicted for his crimes, the “Midnight in Washington” film by Eleven Films is still a powerful reminder of why he should have. The message is as urgent as it was then: President Trump is everything a good leader of a democratic nation cannot and should not be. He lies, he cheats, he makes fun of minorities, he fuels racism and he has no respect for the values that make living together as a society possible.

Tiffany and James, who founded Eleven Films, remind people of these values and they stand up against injustice. Million of views on Twitter prove how important and powerful their films are and how they create the content people need to see.

James and Tiffany met in third grade, lost contact for twenty years, met again by chance – or destiny – and went out on a date. The day was November 11th, 2011. Hence the name Eleven Films. For almost a decade they create internet content from documentaries to film.

I loved your Impeachment video. Did you expect it to go viral?

Tiffany: No, not like it did. We make an original film about every three to four months. When we hit the send button it feels like nausea. We get really nervous because we don´t know if it will do well or not. We did not expect this overwhelming response at all.

James: We launched the video when Donald Trump was wrapping up his State of the Union address, and the mood of the country was so that people needed something to rally around. I think for a short time, it was definitely our video.

How do you choose the projects?

James: How we come up with a subject is a matter of inspiration at a time. We did a video called “The White Nationalist Domestic Terrorism” trailer because it felt at the time we were summing up the mood of the country. There was a lot of racism going on. We had a lot of shootings. We don´t choose the subject but the timing and the times choose the subject for us.

You´re always up to date and that´s how the inspiration finds you?

Tiffany: We have been local activists for a long time. We started a little activist group on Facebook when the mayor of Portland decided to have the police take away the blankets from the homeless who are sleeping on the streets because it looked bad for business, and then seven people froze to death that winter. We organized a protest to give blankets back and coats to the homeless community. We also shut down four blocks. We documented that protest, and that´s how we got the bug to start documenting things like that. People need to hear about it and see it.

James: Now we have two TV´s on and there´s not a lot of news that we don´t consume in some ways. With Donald Trump being president there are about five different nightmare fires that happen every single day. You can´t take each thing and make a video about it. You have to sit back and have to absorb the mood, and then the project chooses you.

When you´re constantly consuming the news – and most of the news is bad news – how does it make you feel and how do you find balance?

Tiffany: It´s really hard to be plugged in all the time and have that constant stream of negativity coming into the house. It is our job to pay attention. James and I are in business together and we are also married. We spend 24/7 with each other. What we have to do to balance all the negativity coming in is that we leave every two months for three days. We go to the beach, or we go to the mountains hiking.

James: We got to spend a couple of days away. Then you come back and plug back in and breathe fresh. Every year of Donald Trump´s presidency feels like five years. We are all aging very quickly here in America.

Not only you´re aging. I never had such a strong opinion about a president that´s not even my president and I guess the whole world has an opinion.

Tiffany: It´s nice to hear because we´re up against a billion-dollar machine this election period. They spend a billion dollars on disinformation and propaganda. I don´t know how far that reaches. Some days I am on Twitter and think, “Oh my God, are people really falling for this bullshit?”

Then it´s really refreshing to talk to you and realize that the entire world people know Trump´s insane.

One thing we´re understanding is that democracy is not as stable as we might have thought.

James: America made an enormous mistake. I can´t believe anybody voted for him in the first place. Not only has Trump re-radicalized racists but emboldened people around the world. They have a radical right in Australia which they didn´t necessarily have before (and in Europe too) because he´s showing a model of how to do it. Here in America, where we are the “freest of the free” we are getting tested. The Bill of Rights, the Constitution – all of this is being tested.

Tiffany and I are just two people and we´re making videos to spread the message because we need everybody to get off the couch, take to the streets and do what they can do. Everybody needs to put in their part. I don´t care if you sing songs or write books. Do it now. If Trump gets another four years, it really is going to be dire.

Do you think he will be reelected?

Tiffany: The establishment Democrats and the people of America are not on the same page. The establishment Democrats are busy talking to each other in Washington DC. They talk with strategists and consultants. The regular people in America are concerned about real things like healthcare and education. But that is not being handled because we´re in the middle of an election year and we just acquitted this guy. There is a lot of noise, and people aren´t focused. I worry that if we aren´t able to focus and do the election correctly, he´s going to win again.

James: I believe more Americans are on the Democrats side, even more than before. Donald Trump only won the Electoral College, but he didn´t win the popular vote. Now that we´ve had four years of his craziness I can only assume fewer people are going to vote for him. The problem is the Republican Party has been in power for only a little while but they gerrymandered everything. We have to turn out in record numbers to overcome these Electoral College failures that we had in some of these states that Democrats normally won but Donald Trump won in 2016. There´s a lot coming against us, but I want the world to know there are more people in America who don´t like Donald Trump and are going everything we can do get him out this time.

Tiffany: I don´t think there has been a more critical time in American history as far as an election goes.

What will you do if he wins?

Tiffany: Then we fight for four more years again.

James: It will be a devastating blow, but this is America and we will make it through. We´ll lace up our boots and start again to expose what Trump is doing. Let´s be honest, his kids are probably going to run for President. This nightmare is not over when Trump loses the election. He has emboldened a whole new group of people with this crazy racist mindset. They just lie into your face. If he wins, we have to keep resisting. I won´t succumb to it.

Tiffany: I´m not going to quit. He´s a criminal, and he is getting away with it. He´s teaching everybody else how to get away with it, too. That´s not normal and normalizing it is wrong.

I read in an article today that Trump is a symptom exposing everything that´s wrong with society.

Tiffany: I agree. Trump is a level of narcissism that we have always known existed but never really saw. It is a very egocentric culture, and because of that we have forgotten about empathy and compassion, and building each other up, working as a team and collaborating with each other.
Every single one of us helped Trump become President by not caring and by falling asleep at the wheel.

James: By staring at our phones.

Tiffany: He absolutely is a symptom of society.

James: We went from Barack Obama, who was an amazing President, to Donald Trump, who always took the easy way with everything. By the time Barack Obama spent his last year in office you couldn’t walk around saying some of the things that Donald Trump says in press conferences. That kind of racism wasn´t allowed anymore. We were making progress as a country. Trump emboldened those racists. I´m not going to lie, it´s hard right now, but America will prevail in the end.

Tiffany: In your day-to-day life you have to act differently. You have to be nice to each other. You have to let people in on the road and at the grocery store. It´s little things like that to remind each other we´re not enemies. We are all still Americans. We are all one big group and we have to help each other. Every time you go out in public and have a confrontation with someone, you´re only enforcing what Trump is.

James: We have to remember how to be human again.

What gives you hope?

James: I see a lot of hope. At the same time, as part of America is getting more radicalized to the right, the political pendulum is swinging to the left. That´s why you see candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. They are so popular because they´re taking the approach that we need to work together to get ourselves out of this. All Americans believe in universal healthcare and that we should have free college. Ten years ago, that would have been insane to say. Gay rights have shifted tremendously and that would have never happened ten years ago. We´re making big strides.

Tiffany: We have really good people in the government who take the Constitution seriously and see things as we do. It is not an impossible fight.

James: There are more good people than bad people, but right now the bad guys have a louder voice and they also have a little bit of power.

How to envision America four years from now?

Tiffany: I want Americans to be more involved in politics. After 9/11, the country was different. Then there was the banking fiasco. And then you get a president like Barack Obama who has to spend eight years cleaning it all up. The country grew numb, and you have to figure out what you are going to do democratically. Then you get a guy like Donald Trump who to his credit has woken up a lot of Democrats again. Four years from now, I hope people are going to take voting and voting security seriously. Four million people are turning 18 in the next two to four years. That is a huge population that we have to educate on how to register to vote, how to get your neighbor to register to vote.

James: If Donald Trump wins, it will be a scary thing, but the one good thing that will come out of it will be that more people in this country will become more politically active. That is always a good thing in a democracy. If a Democrat wins in November, they will have to spend the next four years wrapping their arms around the country and around the world. We have a lot of making up to do.

Website: Eleven Films

Social Media: Twitter

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