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Chronicling four bellwether races in three swing states – Iowa, Colorado and North Carolina – "Midterms" is a portrait of the campaigns, issues and individuals in the year’s most heated political races. AJ Schnack, who directed the 2013 film Caucus about the 2011-12 Republican race in the Iowa Caucus, gained unprecedented access to the candidates and their staffs, going inside races that have the potential for political upsets that could predict the national mood come November. An up-close, unbiased examination of U.S. politics, "Midterms" shows the personal and human side of running for office and the issues that may define the 2014 national elections, including health care, immigration and government spending in Washington.

Broadcast October/November 2014 | Al Jazeera America
Previewed at the Camden International Film Festival

Executive Producer/Director AJ Schnack
Produced by Shirley Moyers
Series Producer John Mernit
Consulting Producer Stephanie Meurer
Director of Photography Nathan Truesdell
Edited by Jeff Malmberg, Jason Tippet and AJ Schnack
Original Music by Mark degli Antoni
Graphic Design by Juan Cardarelli and Eric Levy
Illustrations by Mark Marturello
Photographed by AJ Schnack, Nathan Truesdell and Ryan Scafuro
Camera Assistants Sam Costello, Dylan Davis and CJ Perera
For Al Jazeera America : Series Producer Ashley Kenny, Senior VP of Programming Shannon High
Featuring Staci Appel, Bruce Braley, Sam Clovis, Mike Coffman, Joni Ernst, Kay Hagan, Sean Haugh, Mark Jacobs, Steve King, Tom Latham, Andrew Romanoff, Matt Schultz, Thom Tillis, David Young and Brad Zaun

Selected Press
"Schnack and his crew follow candidates pressing the flesh at town halls, state fairs and ballrooms, while also covering several debates. The first episode captures the ground-level enthusiasm during the Iowa Republican primary for (then-Iowa State Senator Joni) Ernst, who burst onto the national stage with the cycle’s most memorable campaign ad, which touted her experience castrating hogs. Schnack’s cameras make their way behind the scenes as (then North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom) Tillis learns the primary race is being called in his favor and prays with his family before taking the stage to accept the Republican nomination."
- Michael Calderone, Huffington Post

"I wanted to do a bipartisan look at four competitive midterm election races, a behind-the-scenes look at the candidates and the campaigns, and I wanted it to air before election day. It was, as I came to call it, “Caucus Plus.”  And I was confident that I could pull it off, until the network said “let’s go” and I realized the task I had set before me.

As we inched (and I mean inched) closer to a signed contract, I began to have conversations with some of the Republican political strategists I’d met while making and touring with Caucus. You could see the color drain out of their face when I mentioned that the project was for Al Jazeera America."
- Executive Producer/Director AJ Schnack, writing about Midterms for RealScreen



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Nomination tells the story of the unpredictable and unprecedented race for the 2016 Republican and Democratic nominations, told through ten short documentaries, each narrated by a different figure from the campaign trail. From an Iowa farmer to a major 3rd party candidate, Nomination gives viewers a front row seat to the battle between Clinton and Sanders, and the improbable, unstoppable rise of Donald Trump. Unfolding in near-real time and featuring original footage of every single major candidate, Nomination is an fast-paced look at a campaign season that will not be soon forgotten.

Watch the 10=part series at Vanity Fair

Published May-August 2016 | Vanity Fair
International Documentary Association Awards Nominee | Outstanding Short Form Series

Executive Producer/Director AJ Schnack
Produced by Will Lennon and Nathan Truesdell
Consulting Producer Shirley Moyers
Edited by Nels Bangerter, Erin Casper and Nathan Truesdell
Photographed by AJ Schnack, Nathan Truesdell, Brian Ashby, Steven BognarWill Lennon, Katy Scoggin and Spencer Worthley
Original Music by Mark degli Antoni
Post Production Supervisor Anne Neczypor
For First Look Media: Executive Producers Adam Pincus and Lisa Leingang; Senior Producer Jeff Seelbach
Featuring Raymond BuckleyJeb BushBen CarsonChris Christie, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz,
Joni Ernst, Carly Fiorina, Josh FoxLindsey Graham, Mike HuckabeeGary Johnson
John Kasich, Alexis Levinson, Martin O'Malley, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Doug Preisse, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, Rick Santorum, J. Ann Selzer, Alice Stewart, Donald Trump,
Bob Vander Plaats, Scott Walker and Dana "Spanky" Wanken

Selected Press
"The director of the series, AJ Schnack, previously directed Caucus, a feature documentary that tracked Rick Santorum’s surprise victory in the 2012 Iowa contest. This time, he’s creating a series of short-form docs that will follow the entire process, all the way from the early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire to the conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia, where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are expected to emerge as their respective parties’ standard-bearers."
- Vanity Fair

"Only in the Nevada Democratic caucuses would you see famed labor activist Dolores Huerta get into a screaming match with actress Susan Sarandon. In fact, that’s the only place where you can see Sarandon and a fevered Bernie Sanders supporter yell at Huerta—who co-founded United Farm Workers with the famed Cesar Chavez—and accuse her of destroying unions by stumping for Hillary Clinton."
Tina Nguyen, Vanity Fair

"One can sense that electric feeling of possibility in episode 7 of NomiNation, as Sanders and his passionate supporters tear their way through California. Fueled by what pollster J. Ann Selzer describes as a continuation of the same phenomenon that swept Barack Obama into office in 2008, Sanders seems on the edge of history, with an army of starry-eyed young people ready to usher in his oft-promised “political revolution.”"
- Tina Nguyen, Vanity Fair

"While Trump pretended to brush off both slights, his supporters did not, drowning out Cruz with boos and jeering the Ohio delegation for backing Kasich.

Kasich’s allies, at least, are sleeping easier for having rejected Trump’s overtures. “They say the softest pillow is a clear conscience, and I think our consciences are pretty clear,” Doug Preisse, an informal adviser to Kasich, told NomiNation. “The governor’s been working pretty hard welcoming the delegations outside of the arena.”"
- Tina Nguyen, Vanity Fair



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Primaries pulls back the curtain to reveal the intricate steps to the main stage of the 2016 Presidential election. Six half hour episodes provide on-the-ground coverage of the caucuses and primary elections. The cycle unfolds in vérité footage of candidates, supporters and in-depth interviews with campaign staffers, party advisors and political journalists. Over the course of a year, a field of seventeen Republican candidates narrows to one, and the Democrats find themselves in a close and controversial race for the nomination. Candidates campaign across the country, working to build their bases through retail politics and rallies, while struggling against scandals, mudslinging, and party infighting. Primaries takes the audience from the grounds of the Iowa State Fair to the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primaries, Super Tuesday, and on to the national convention stages. The series reveals the turning points of an unprecedented primary cycle that causes deep divides for both political parties. In a year of political outsiders, Primaries reveals the inside perspective of an election year that will go down in history.

Watch Episode One "A Nuclear Detonator" of the 6-Episode Series

Broadcast September 2016 | Fusion

Executive Producer/Director AJ Schnack
Produced by Will Lennon and Nathan Truesdell
Edited by Brian Anton, Omry Maoz and Andrew Napier
Consulting Editor Erin Casper
Photographed by AJ Schnack, Katy ScogginNathan Truesdell and Spencer Worthley
Original Music by Mark degli Antoni
Supervising Producer Anne Neczypor
Senior Story Producer Anne Carkeet
Story Producers Jonathan Ruane and Courtenay Singer
Producer for Bonfire Films of America Shirley Moyers
For First Look Media: Executive Producers Adam Pincus and Lisa Leingang; Senior Producer
Jeff Seelbach
Featuring Annah BackstromRaymond Buckley, Caitlyn Huey BurnsJeb BushBen Carson
Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton, Ted CruzJoni Ernst, Carly Fiorina, Josh Fox, Hogan Gidley
Don GonyeaLindsey Graham, O. Kay Henderson, Mike HuckabeeGary Johnson, Jamie Johnson,  
John Kasich, Ryan Keller, David Kochel, Alexis Levinson, Seema Mehta, Jason Noble,
Kathie Obradovich, Martin O'Malley, George Pataki, James Pindell, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, 
Doug Preisse
, Gideon Resnick, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, Rick Santorum, J. Ann Selzer, 
Alice Stewart
, Donald TrumpBob Vander Plaats, Scott Walker and Dana "Spanky" Wanken

Selected Press
“Our goal is to shine a light on the aspects of a story that might get lost in everyday media coverage–with access to voices that offer unconventional context for viewers,” said Fusion svp of content and programming Keith Summa in a release. Those voices include Boston Globe political reporter James Pindell, Los Angeles Times political writer Seema Mehta, and NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea, as well as Alice StewartTed Cruz‘s communications director."
- Corinne Grinapol, AdWeek

"Spanning the first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire through the nominating conventions for Trump and Clinton in late July, the series tracks the stunning divisions roiling the Republican Party as well as the improbable rise of Senator Bernie Sanders as a legitimate spoiler to the Clinton political dynasty. “Primaries” offers a fresh perspective on the candidates and the political system as well as a unique take on the media, and what we have come to expect in modern election coverage."
- Fusion