He died March 1, but we haven’t heard the last from Andrew Breitbart, because the conservative rabble-rouser is set to star in two documentary movies, both of which are in post-production and will no doubt get some measure of theatrical distribution. He’ll also make his acting debut in the second episode of Courage: New Hampshire, a show that streams online where he plays a pre-Revolutionary War sheriff.
It’s the films, though, that will garner the most attention, because in them he’ll be playing his most compelling role: himself — an unapologetic and unorthodox crusader for right-wing causes who is impossible to ignore, even for those who despised him.
The filmmakers of both movies are vague about their distribution and marketing plans, no doubt mindful that their efforts could be perceived as callous attempts to profit from tragedy. Therefore, it’s difficult to predict which movie will hit screens first.
The first one conceived, though, is called Hating Breitbart, which began two-and-a-half years ago when a camera crew started shadowing their subject at events like Tea Party rallies, where he’d whip like-minded activists into a frenzy with his fiery oratory, as well as Occupy Wall Street protests, where he’d elicit – appropriately, given the title of the film – tremendously hateful responses to his mere presence.
The second film, in fact, is an expose’ of that left-wing movement called Occupy Unmasked from Stephen Bannon, who was behind the pro-Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated.
A trailer of Occupy Unmasked begins with President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with media figures like Bill Maher, Michael Moore and Tim Robbins expressing their support for Occupy Wall Street.
“I kind of like it that they’re sort of militantly vague at this point,” says Maher.
Menacing music kicks in and protesters are shown defecating on police cars and smashing storefront windows. News clips announce rapes and drug use at Occupy camps and participants are heard cursing – a lot.
“We are finally telling you the true story of the radicals behind the Occupy movement,” Breitbart says at the end of the trailer.
Hating Breitbart, though, by its sheer title and subject matter is probably the more marketable of the two films. It’s from director Andrew Marcus, who previously made a short film starring Fox News Channel personality Juan Williams called A Tale of Two Missions, which explores problems in pubic schools.
Marcus discovered Breitbart by accident while he was filming anti-war protests and Tea Party rallies, collecting archival footage but hoping to turn up something more. As Breitbart addressed a Tea Party convention in Nashville, Marcus turned to a colleague and said, “This guy is our story.”
“He was basically making a declaration of war against the mainstream media,” says Marcus. “It was multiple standing ovations. The crowd roared. It was like they were an army wandering around looking for a general, and they stumbled upon Andrew, and they were like, ‘Who are you, and where have you been!?’”
When Marcus approached Breitbart with his plans for a documentary, Breitbart proposed a partnership.
“I told him, ‘you can’t produce this. I’m making it. I’m paying for it. I’m independent.’ And Andrew said, ‘okay, that’s fine.’ It was really unusual and it speaks to the kind of guy he was. He gave us unprecedented access. Amazing.”
Marcus says it wasn’t until he was 18 months into shooting that he settled on an angle: The hateful responses to Breitbart’s activism, which was brash, to say the least.
“It was a culmination of what we witnessed – a strategy to discredit him by vilifying him,” says Marcus.
“He especially didn’t like the accusation of racism being used as a bludgeon,” Marcus says. “It was one of the most hateful things I’ve ever seen, this destructive nature of the media creating a talking point about Andrew and the Tea Party – which was so near and dear to him – as racists. Disgusting.”
While Breitbart had no ownership stake in the movie, he was reportedly planning a guerilla marketing campaign befitting of his showy reputation. Matt Labash, writing in the Weekly Standard, reported that Breitbart was going to start an anonymous Web site for posting anti-Breitbart videos and blindly hire Obama artist Shepard Fairey to hang anti-Breitbart posters all over Los Angeles. Then Breitbart would call a press conference to announce that he had discovered the identity of the mastermind behind the hateful campaign – himself.
Marcus shot 100 hours of film and spent $500,000 doing so. He says the movie was 99 percent finished until Breitbart died, which will necessitate some tweaks, though he’s not quite sure what they’ll be.
“An event like this really changes the meaning of the content we have,” he says. “We had a strategy, then our main character passed away.”
Explicit trailers of both movies are below.