KATIE GALLOWAY AND KELLY DUANE DE LA VEGA’S “BETTER THIS WORLD”

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Originally posted as part of our 2011 SXSW coverage, Better This World is nominated for Best Documentary.

Screening Times: Saturday March 12th, 11:00am (Vimeo Theater), Monday March 14th, 1:45pm (Alamo Lamar B), Friday March 18th, 2:00pm (Paramount Theatre)

Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane De La Vega profile the young political radicals David McKay and Bradley Crowder in Better This World. The pair plotted to disrupt the 2008 Republic National Convention, but found themselves charged with domestic terrorism.

Filmmaker: How did you first hear of David McKay and Bradley Crowder? What drove you to make a film about them?

De La Vega: In early January 2009 we read a New York Times article about two young men from Midland, Texas, who were arrested on domestic terrorism charges at the 2008 RNC. The story described their involvement with a controversial FBI informant who was the government’s star witness in the case. We were intrigued by the informant’s involvement with the young men as well as  the fact that David McKay was planning to go to trial with an entrapment defense.

Filmmaker: Who was most instrumental in getting you access to the young men?

De La Vega: Their attorneys — Jeff Degree and Andrew Mohring — both of whom put us in touch with their clients.

Filmmaker: What was your biggest challenge when constructing the film in post-production?

Galloway: The main challenge had to do with the fact that  key events in the film — much of the heart of the story — took place before we were on the scene. Bringing that essential backstory to life  required a lot of creative thinking, gathering of materials and editing. We were fortunate to have access to a wealth of materials: archival footage and interviews, surveillance footage, jail house phone calls, court testimony and more. Here we have to give a shout out to our incredible editors Greg O’Toole (the film’s main editor) and producer and graphics editor Mike Nicholson — both of whom were terrific collaborators and repeatedly helped us turn straw into gold.   As so often happens, the challenges we lamented early on ultimately pushed us to grow as filmmakers and improve the film.

Filmmaker: Where were you and how did you react when you were told you’d been accepted to SXSW?

Galloway:  I was home around the holidays when the great gift was delivered. Kelly was visiting family in Colorado and was delirious in bed  with some insanely intense flu. I had to wait several days for her to be coherent enough to say hell yes — we’re going to SX! (We had been invited to premiere a couple of other places too…).

Filmmaker: Are you planning to do any DIY promotion or distribution with the film?

De La Vega: We have a “street” team in Austin putting up posters and spreading the word via Facebook and Twitter. We’ve been lucky enough to be picked up by POV so our TV distribution is under way. We’re still plotting the rest of the roll out.

Filmmaker: Any other projects in the pipeline?

Galloway: We have a few projects in development and producton. We’ve been taking with Frontline about doing a piece of national scope on the government’s increasing use of informants post 9/11. We are also in production (with our partners at Austin’s Picturebox) on a verite film about a smally Kentucky law office with an enormous case load.