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
"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