Behind-the-scenes: The making of a powerful documentary on Kathleen Wynne
In 1978, when I was a 28 year-old filmmaker at the National Film Board of Canada, I had an opportunity to make a documentary film inside the office of Ontario Premier, Bill Davis. I’d met Davis’ advisor and fundraiser, Eddie Goodman when making a film about Flora MacDonald’s Tory leadership campaign a couple of years earlier. “Fast” Eddie introduced me to Premier Davis and his inner circle. That film “The Art of the Possible” aired on CBC and has been used in schools and universities ever since, to teach politics and government.
With Kathleen Wynne as Ontario premier, advocating open, transparent government, it seemed like a good opportunity to propose a similar access-driven documentary.
Last December, I met the Premier’s Principal Secretary, Andrew Bevan, Director of Communications, Rebecca Mackenzie and the Premier’s spouse, Jane Rounthwaite to make my pitch. They were supportive. The idea was to be on the inside during the 100 days leading up to the announcement of the provincial budget and to be a fly-on-the-wall at other important events like the by-election in Sudbury, a Premier’s Conference in Ottawa and whatever else happened.
The deal was that neither the Premier nor her staff would have editorial control of the film, nor see the final cut prior to broadcast. As with the Bill Davis’ film, footage shot in Cabinet meetings would be reviewed to ensure we weren’t leaking confidential budget information or anything subject to personal or commercial privacy issues.
Premier Wynne had seen my Bill Davis documentary and quipped “Perhaps it’s time to show people that Ontario is no longer run by old white men who smoke!”
When the Sudbury by-election became the subject of a police investigation, some people became nervous about our film and access tightened up, but we were able to keep shooting.
In the end, all the releases were signed and I’m delighted the film will be broadcast tomorrow, October 10 at 7 p.m. on W5.
As per our agreement, the Premier and her staff will be seeing our film for the very first time.
I think W5 viewers will enjoy this rare opportunity to witness the process of government, and have glimpses into the personal life of Premier Wynne, from the inside.