A Filmmaker on Film
Samuel Edward Konkin III, and I, co-founded what today is called Agorism or the Agorist movement.
Sam was Agorism’s chief theoretician in published works such as The New Libertarian Manifesto (1980) and The Agorist Primer (1986). Before that Sam introduced counter-economics in his talks to the CounterCon conferences I organized in fall 1974 and spring 1975.
The first printed explication of Agorism was in my novel, Alongside Night (Crown Publishers, 1979).
The first explication of Agorism in a movie was my adaptation of the Alongside Night novel into the Alongside Night movie, previewed to libertarian and science-fiction venues in 2013 showings and released in limited theatrical showings in 2014.
The Alongside Night movie is an independent film produced for under a million dollars. Compared to studio productions for theatrical or network television release that’s ultra-low-budget. Nonetheless, the Alongside Night movie achieved production values including starring actors who have appeared in major theatrical movies and network television series, visual effects produced by artists whose work has appeared in blockbuster movies, a musical soundtrack composed, orchestrated, and conducted by a musical artist whose work has been used in numerous major studio movies and recorded by a major symphony orchestra — and additional music licensed with a major recording artist and another full symphony orchestra — and both interior and exterior locations worthy of a studio picture.
This is not debatable opinion. These are provable facts.
Yet the only explicitly Agorist-content movie has been relentlessly denigrated by persons calling themselves Agorists. They not only attack every aspect of the movie’s production they go on to attack the Agorist content of the movie itself. Sometimes these attacks on the movie are by persons claiming to like the novel — but the attacks on content in the movie are on content that originated in the novel.
Here is a new example.
On the Agora Club Facebook page, “Agoristball” writes, “The book was pretty good but… just… wow… As far as libertarian message is not subtle at all and beats you over the head with liberty in ever frame and honestly it seems to glorify a lot of libertarian straw men. Like at one point the main character goes to buy nuke from a market. Not exactly the film I’d want representing my ideology.”
So let’s compare the sequence from the novel, and from the movie, that “beats you over the head with liberty,” glorifies “a lot of libertarian straw men,” and which this man claiming to represent Agorism writes is “Not exactly the film I’d want representing my ideology.”
Keep in mind that both the novel sequence and movie sequence were written by one of the founders of Agorism and the novel version was vetted by Agorism’s universally-acknowledged theoretician, Samuel Edward Konkin III.
The guard looked them over, and saw they were genuinely confused. He motioned with the Taser. “Come on.”
He led Elliot and Lorimer to the security alcove, and told the commandant — a different one from the previous night, “Two for Aurora Proper.”
The commandant then asked them, “Anything you want from the lockers?”
“I have a pistol,” said Elliot. “Do you think I need it?”
“I couldn’t say,” he replied. “Cadre are not allowed on the trading floor.”
“Why not?” Lorimer asked.
“Privacy,” the commandant explained. “The allied businesses in Aurora have delegated to the Cadre the right to monitor incoming and outgoing goods and communications, to ensure that the location is kept secret. To make sure that the Cadre can’t try to use this authority against them, they forbid us to enter into their domain and maintain their own security force to keep us out. Their guards are armed; except during emergencies we are not allowed to be.”
“Well,” said Elliot, “if I’m allowed to, I guess I will take my revolver.”
“Right. Surrender your badges, please.”
Taking their badges and feeding them into a collection slot, the commandant then got Elliot his revolver. After Elliot had put on his holster, the guard led the couple down the same corridor through which they had entered the Cadre complex initially, retracing the 45-degree bend around which was the steel door defended by still another guard. The door was opened for them, and they were instructed to walk to the Terminal corridor’s end and wait at the large portal opposite the Terminal. They did — Elliot meanwhile noting the Terminal door locked — and a few minutes later the portal slid open.
They were facing a freight elevator.
After they had got on, the door automatically slid shut, the elevator creeping down. When the door opened again, they were looking down the main promenade of what looked to be a small village.
Elliot and Lorimer faced a carpeted mall — daylight simulated by sunlight fluorescent panels in a low acoustic ceiling — twenty-feet wide and stretching ahead over twice the length of a football field. On each side of the promenade was an array of storefronts and offices the likes of which Elliot had never seen, and shopping in the mall were over a hundred persons obviously of widely varying nationality, creed, and custom.
“This is clearly impossible,” said Elliot. Lorimer did not disagree.
They began down the promenade, on the left passing the Black Supermarket (it looked like a supermarket); next to it, offices of the First Anarchist Bank and Trust Company — AnarchoBank for short; farther down, NoState Insurance; and beyond that, a post office: The American Letter Mail Company, Lysander Spooner, founder.
On the opposite side of the promenade were The Contraband Exchange (jewelry, novelties, duty-free merchandise), Identities by Charles (makeup and disguises), and a restaurant, The TANSTAAFL Café. There were several dozen more shops and offices that looked even more intriguing.
“Well, what do you think?”
Lorimer paused a moment before answering. “I think it might be easier to hide the Lincoln Memorial.”
“We might be under it.”
They walked farther, passing The Gun Nut and an office for Guerdon Construction, coming to a door marked “The G. Gerald Rhoames Boarder Guard and Ketchup Company.” Elliot and Lorimer took one look at it — then at each other — and decided to go in.
A bell of the door tinkled as they entered; the shop was old-fashioned, almost Dickensian in style, with a small, well- dressed man seated behind a glass counter. He stood as they came in. “Yes?”
He bowed slightly.
“We were wondering what you sell here,” Lorimer asked.
“My sign does not convince you?” He spoke with a British accent contaminated by overexposure to Americans.
“Surely not. Gentlemen should deal neither in frontier guards nor ketchup. I am a cannabist.”
“You eat human flesh?”
“Good heavens, no, dear lady. I am a cannabist, not a cannibal. A cannabist deals in Cannabis sativa, the most select parts from the female hemp plant. I am a seller of the finest hybrids from Colombia, Acapulco, Bangladesh.”
“Wholesale or retail?” Elliot asked.
“Both,” said mr. Rhoames, “though naturally my store here is quite limited. Over three kilograms entails outside delivery.”
“What would an ounce of Acapulco go for?”
“Very well, then. Thirty-three.”
Elliot pulled out his wallet, extending a blue. “Do you have change of a hundred?”
Mr. Rhoames looked at it with disdain. “Surely you do not think I was pricing in fiat? The price is thirty-three cents aurum.”
“Well, how much is that in dollars?”
Mr. Rhoames shrugged. “I’m not a clerk.” He pronounced the word clark. “I suggest you utilize a bank here and exchange them.”
“Thanks,” said Elliot. “Come on, Lor.” They started to the door.
“I say — on the subject of dollars . . .”
They turned back to him.
He reached behind the counter, his hand returning with a small box. Inside were five manufactured cigarettes with gold dollar signs engraved on the paper. “A house blend, grown hydroponically in my own tanks.”
“I’m sure they’re excellent, but I can’t do anything until I get my currency exchanged.”
“No, no, no,” said Mr. Rhoames. “On the house.”
“Why, thank you,” said Lorimer. “That’s very kind.”
“Nothing at all. Come back anytime.”
When they were fully out the door, Lorimer turned to Elliot and just said, “Well.”
“I’ll reserve my opinion until I see how these others are,” Elliot replied.
A two-minute walk returned them to the AnarchoBank, inside three tellers’ windows with a half-dozen customers in line, and a sign on the wall: “Offices in AURORA, AUTONOMY, AUCTION, AURIGA, AUDACITY, AUBERGE, AUSTRIAN SCHOOL, AUNTIE, and AUM.”
Elliot and Lorimer bypassed the line, instead walking over to a good-looking black woman behind a desk marked “New Accounts.” “Excuse me, but who do I see to exchange New Dollars?”
“Do you have an account with us?” she asked pleasantly; Elliot shook his head. “Then I’ll take care of it. Won’t you sit down?” After Elliot and Lorimer had been seated, she asked, “How much would you like exchanged?” Elliot took out his remaining currency, counting out twenty-seven hundred in blues. “You’d like gold or eurofrancs?”
“Uh — gold, I guess.”
She made use of a desktop computer console, then said, “We’ll have to buy your New Dollars at what we estimate is Monday’s rate.” She explained, “That’s the earliest we can sell it. And at 28.165 New Dollars per milligram gold, we can offer you ninety-six mils.”
“How much will that buy around here?”
“Not very much. A carton of cigarettes at Black Supermarket or a light lunch at TANSTAAFL Café. As a reference point, a dime vendy trades at par with four mils, a quarter vendy at ten mils — that is, one cent.”
Elliot thought a moment, then said, “My money will buy me two dozen phone calls?”
“If there were pay phones in Aurora — which there aren’t — yes.”
“In that case,” said Elliot, “I’m interested in another transaction.”
Concealing his motions from both the woman and Lorimer, he unzipped his belt slightly and pulled out a 50-peso piece. He placed it on the desk.
“For eurofrancs,” said Elliot.
Ten minutes later, Elliot had exchanged his blues for a handful of vendies and had been given 405 eurofrancs for his gold piece — ten eurofrancs per gram gold and an 8 percent premium for the coin. The New Accounts officer also showed them AnarchoBank gold coins of various weights, including a one-gram wafer so thin it was sealed into plastic.
“Listen,” said Elliot, after he had been given a thorough sales pitch for minimum-balance checking accounts, interest- bearing time deposits, and a small pamphlet called “The Wonderful World of 100% Gold Reserve Banking.” “I don’t mean this to sound nasty — honestly — but how can I be sure this isn’t a fly-by- night outfit?”
“That’s a fair question,” she replied, though I’m afraid the best way we can prove ourselves to you requires that you simply do business with us long enough to be assured of our honesty. Short of that, you can receive a copy of the auditor’s report from the Independent Arbitration Group, or check with any of our overseas correspondent banks. AnarchoBank is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Union Commerce Bank in Zurich, and does business through it with aboveground banks throughout the world.”
Elliot and Lorimer got up. “Well, thank you,” said Elliot.
The New Accounts officer extended another pamphlet to him. “Your application for a Bank AnarchoCard,” she said.
For the next hour, Elliot and Lorimer window-shopped, looking at duty-free Swiss watches in the Contraband Exchange, picking up a prospectus for Project Harriman, a countereconomic lunar mining venture, and scrutinizing the wide range of illegal chemicals on sale in Jameson Pharmaceuticals, displayed as in the patent-medicine counters of a discount drugstore. A sign on the wall announced: “NO PRESCRIPTIONS REQUIRED ON ANY PURCHASE — Consult Your Physician for Indications.” And past rows of morphine, paregoric, methadone, and heroin was another smaller sign on the wall, but reproduced on each package: “WARNING: Narcotics Use is Habit-Forming.”
Another counter displayed LSD 25 . . . THC . . . Mescaline . . . cocaine . . . Sweet & Low . . .
In Nalevo Personnel Lorimer was told by a placement manager that they could guarantee her employment at twenty grams gold a week in one of the finer bordellos.
The Black Supermarket impressed them not for what it had — aside from tax-free liquor and cigarettes its merchandise was the kind any supermarket would sell — but for what it did not have: no shortages, no rationing, no listings of “lawful” ceiling prices. Elliot felt a momentary twinge when he saw a shelf stocked with Spam; he had pushed his family to the back of his mind and felt guilty for enjoying himself.
It became evident that the trading floor was primarily a convenience for wholesale countereconomic traders, who shook hands on huge deals here, and made their deliveries outside. It was only slightly unusual to see a person walking around with face masked, though Elliot suspected that most of the people shopping on this floor were “expendable” agents of the actual buyers, whose faces would never risk being seen.
After a five-minute wait for a table, Elliot and Lorimer were seated in the TANSTAAFL Café, a sign on the wall translating the word as There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, and rightly crediting the acronym to E. “Doc” Pournelle. The special luncheon for Saturday offered split-pea soup, sandwich, french fries, and beverage, all for seven cents. After brief discussion, Elliot ordered it for both of them.
While waiting for the food, they paid a visit to the restaurant’s old Wurlitzer jukebox, finding it stocked only with classical music. Elliot inserted a quarter vendy and pushed I-23; the machine responded by playing the Heifetz recording of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.
Elliot and Lorimer spent another ninety minutes drifting around the floor — talking with document forgers, electronics technicians, and arbitration agents — and visiting, at Elliot’s urging, The Gun Nut. On display was a weapon fancier’s dream, everything from pistols, bazookas, and M-21 automatic machine pistols, to grenade launchers, subsonic generators, and lasers. Its real attraction for Elliot was a fifty-foot-deep shooting range behind a soundproof glass panel. After donning ear protectors, Elliot fast-drew into a Weaver stance at a paper target in the shape of an armed assailant. Afterward, he brought his target up to the front counter.
“The proprietor said, “That’ll be ten cents. How’d you do?”
Elliot showed the man his target. He had shot a number of bull’s-eyes, fewer holes farther out, none out of killing range.
The proprietor nodded respectfully.
“Lor,” said Elliot as they exited to the promenade, “after this place I’d believe you if you told me someone was here hawking nukes.”
The display mock-up had a sign underneath labeling it: “100 KILOTON ATOMIC FISSION DEVICE.”
The salesman in Lowell-Pierre Engineering was telling them, “. . . but of course much smaller than the megaton capabilities of the hydrogen fusion devices.”
“You provide the plutonium?” Elliot asked him.
“No, of course not,” said the salesman. “You’d have to find your own source. But even if you did, you’d have to accept one of our supervisors to ensure that the device would be used only for excavation or drilling, before we would sell you one. We don’t hand over nuclear weapons to fools who want to blow up the world.”
“But you’ve sold these things?” asked Lorimer. “Really?”
“Of course,” said the salesman. “Do you think we’re in business for our health?”
Now here’s the same Agorist shopping floor sequence in the movie:
Speaking as the surviving co-founder of Agorism who came up with this sequence in close consultation with the other co-founder of Agorism, Samuel Edward Konkin III, I think the movie sequence is as representative of Agorism as the novel sequence. If you press me, I think the movie does an even better job at explicating core Agorist ideas than the novel did.
So here’s what the living Original Agorist says about this.
If you don’t like the expression of Agorist ideas in Alongside Night, the original novel or the movie the original author made from it, you’re not an Agorist.
If you don’t recognize and like the Agorist content of the first Agorist movie Alongside Night you have failed the litmus test identifying genuine Agorists and weeding out the phonies, poseurs, dilettantes, communists, fascists, racists, anti-Semites, unfunny comics, belching podcasters, illiterate critics, confidential informants, oppo trolls, and all variation of stealth statists from both left and right.
You can’t claim to be a fundamentalist Christian and hate the Bible. You can’t claim to be a Muslim and declare the Quran is a piece of crap. You can’t claim to be a Student of Objectivism and say Atlas Shrugged is the worst novel ever written. You can’t claim to love America but think half of American voters belong in a basket of deplorables.
If your esthetics are such that a clear expression of Agorist content in a more-than-competently made low-budget indie film turns you off, please stop calling yourself an Agorist, because you’re not. You can claim to be any other flavor of free-thinker you like — minarchist, Libertarian Partyarch, anarcho-communist, mutualist, AnCap, Voluntaryist, distributivist, etc. — but you are not an Agorist.
That’s not an argument from authority, or a claim of trademark.
It’s just cutting through a pile of deviationist claims to reach the historical facts witnessed personally from this guy who was there when it started.
A few days ago while watching an award screener of the new movie Trumbo — I’ll leave it to my libertarian friend Brad Linaweaver to review it for its historical inaccuracies — I had an epiphany. There’s a line of dialogue when Dalton Trumbo says:
…no, I can’t tell you what I’m
working on now except to say, the
blacklist is alive and well and so
is the black market.
Although I was aware that communist Hollywood writers were bypassing the Black List by writing under pseudonyms and working through “fronts,” it never occurred to me that this was practicing my own economic philosophy of Agorism.
Irrespective of any contrary propaganda intentions of its filmmakers, Trumbo is a pro-Agorist movie.
Dalton Trumbo — darling of the Hollywood left — was an Agorist: a practitioner of black-market capitalism.
Despite being a card-carrying member of the Communist Party of the USA whose theoretical understanding of free-market economics was somewhere between zero and negative infinity, when his career as the highest-paid screenwriter for the Hollywood studios was stymied and his bourgeois lifestyle capsized, Dalton Trumbo entrepreneured an elaborate counter-economic operation to market screenplays by himself and fellow black-listed writers to movie producers willing to lie about the screen credits and pay in cash.
I wrote, produced, and directed a feature film about Agorism as a strategy to resist and bypass any State, whether right-wing fascist or left-wing communist. It’s titled Alongside Night and as of yesterday it’s now available for free streaming via Amazon Prime. If you’re not a Prime member you can rent or buy it on Amazon as a streaming download or as a three-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack. It’s also on iTunes.
But fifty Hollywood distributors and all the major film festivals rejected my movie. They’ll lie and say my movie was substandard — mendacious lying is standard operations for communists and fascists alike — but Alongside Night was rejected because of its anti-political content.
So here’s my revelation to all those in Hollywood who applaud Dalton Trumbo for subverting and eventually destroying the Black List:
Dalton Trumbo used Agorism — the strategy portrayed in my movie Alongside Night — to defeat the oppressors of his time.
Agorism works to defeat tyranny … even if you think you’re a communist.
Wikipedia Article: Agorism
Over the weekend of September 25 to 27th I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona for the Second Amendment Foundation’s 2015 Gun Rights Policy Conference. I delivered a short address from the podium on Sunday the 27th that was video-recorded both by the Polite Society Podcast and C-SPAN. In addition I was interviewed before my speech by the Polite Society Podcast and both before and after by Ernest Hancock’s Declare Your Independence radio program.
Copies of the Alongside Night 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and a bulk order form were placed on the conference attendee’s seats.
The thrust of my presentation was also the theme of Alongside Night:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
–from the Declaration of Independence
The libertarian movement as I first knew it has lost its way. Disrupted by narrow ideology and petty squabbling over single issues it has been marginalized and the power of its message dissipated.
There needs to be a New Libertarian movement refocused on the original Revolution built from the ground up, and I decided a conference of activists devoted to at least one, if not more, of the Bill of Rights was a proper place to start.
Here’s my address to the conference plus my interviews.
This, and Alongside Night, are presented in the hope it will remind freedom-lovers what the libertarian movement was, and will again be, about and inspire the work needed to free us all.
Like the Phoenix of legend out of the ashes comes a rebirth.
–J. Neil Schulman
I’m J. Neil Schulman, author and filmmaker and I made this movie, Alongside Night, about the American Revolution returning in our time, and we gave copies to just about everybody who came to this conference. And for those of you watching on C-SPAN you can go to Amazon.com and buy it.
So let’s talk about the first American Revolution.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote those words about felons illegally in possession of firearms who on April 19th, 1775 used those illegal guns to shoot at police legally appointed by the governor to confiscate their illegal guns. In the exchange of gunfire three cops were killed and nine cops were wounded.
Sheriff David Clarke, I have bad news for you.
This country was founded by cop-killers.
Roughly 226 years later, on September 11th, 2001, four commercial jetliners filled with passengers, flight attendants, and flight crew – all of them disarmed of firearms by United States federal law – were overpowered by Jihadi militiamen armed only with box cutters, four per aircraft. Two of those captured aircraft were used as weapons to crash into New York’s twin towers financial headquarters, one crashed into the U.S. military headquarters in Washington DC, and one flight – where the disarmed passengers, none of them with military or police uniforms or badges – fought the jihadi militiamen who rather than surrender crashed the plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The casualties that day were just under 3,000, but in subsequent years wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere costs the United States thousands of more lives, trillions of dollars, and a wounded warrior class.
Gun control gave us 9/11.
I’m a writer and filmmaker who has sold stories and screenplays to Hollywood production companies, including an original script for the Twilight Zone, broadcast by CBS in prime time, March 7, 1986. My new narrative feature film, Alongside Night, based on my first novel published in October 1979, was given out to participants at this conference, as a counterpoint to the usual Hollywood movies that treat privately held firearms as dangers to public safety.
Hollywood writers and producers led by Harvey Weinstein hate private gun ownership yet the entertainment industry makes movies and TV shows full of guns. Hollywood gets past its own objections by having these guns be either futuristic ray guns or ordinary guns used to shoot the heads off zombies, or by having the guns be used by cops. Prime time U.S. television is dominated by shows featuring law-enforcement officers and military service personnel as the armed heroes.
On the other side is a political right-wing dominated by politicians who assign absolute human rights only to the unborn. Anyone breathing air has only government granted privileges – driving licenses, gun licenses, work permits, and so forth. They talk about a “right to work” but want to build a wall to keep out workers.
They want gun rights only for the law-abiding – in other words, anyone who meekly complies with thousands of tyrannical regulations.
I’m here to agree with the signers of the Declaration of Independence – a legal document more binding than the Constitution — that when any government’s police and regulations become oppressive of the people’s rights the people have the moral right to resist abuse of their rights under color of law – and existing federal law agrees with me. Look up Title 18 US Code Section 242 which says that any official – local, state, or federal – who violates constitutionally protected rights is acting as a criminal and has zero legal authority to do so.
By the way, the Second Amendment in a recent Seventh Circuit decision, applies to illegal immigrants.
And I need to tell you something that is not going to be pleasant for a lot of you to hear. It also applies to drug gangs because nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is the word “drug” mentioned and according to te 9th and 10th amendments if it ain’t listed in the Constitution as powers of the federal government anything they do on this subject is void ab initio.
That’s how Black Lives Matter and defenders of the Bill of Rights – you in this room — can get together.
Due to the college campus shooting today at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College I decided to add two additional videos.
I’ve been writing about the Alongside Night Movie for over five years, starting when I was still trying to put together casting and financing to get it made. I’ve sold it hard on the libertarian content in the movie and how I believe a feature-length narrative film can be effective in approaching people — especially young people — to consider libertarian principles and comparing libertarian approaches with far-more-popular government-reliant policies.
The Alongside Night Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack just hit the market. We just started running the first radio commercial, beginning on Art Bell’s return to radio, Midnight in the Desert.
I’ve dedicated my career to the belief that storytelling can convey complex ideas to large audiences.. I became a libertarian because I read stories by Robert Heinlein. Many libertarians started with Ayn Rand.
This approach is called show-and-tell or to use an older term, a parable. History’s most effective teachers — Buddha, Jesus, Aesop, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Robert A. Heinlein, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ayn Rand — have taught by storytelling.
Masters of totalitarian propaganda including Goebbels, Lenin, Stalin, and FDR all understood that movies have been essential in mass communication.
Libertarians, Agorists, Voluntaryists, lend me your ears — and eyes.
Watch these clips from Alongside Night.
–J. Neil Schulman, who wrote the novel and made the movie
I write this the day after the 2015 Anthem Libertarian Film Festival closed without playing the most focused, hard-core and just-released libertarian movie — the one based on my novel of the same title, the only one where the libertarian author also wrote, produced, and directed the adapted movie — my own movie, Alongside Night.
So why should anyone else give a damn? Why should even I give a damn when Alongside Night was one of the opening-night movies previewed in a rough cut at the 2013 Freedomfest that hosts the Anthem Film Festival and a few days ago my movie just had its commercial release the same weekend as the 2015 Anthem Film Festival/Freedomfest as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack … and from all indications my movie has a bright future in multiple-venue and multiple platform distribution?
It’s because I’m one of that rare breed of novelists, screenwriters, and directors able to package a commercial-grade story with core libertarian themes that can also entertain people who disagree with its ideas. People who haven’t done any of this but are in positions of critical judgment over the artistic output of those like us who have done it need to pay attention.
I have four decades in as a celebrated libertarian novelist with major celebrity endorsements, awards, and reviews on my books; also as a libertarian editor and book publisher; a journalist and opinion writer published in major newspapers and magazines; screenwriter for primetime network TV; and I also won three film-festival awards for the first feature film, Lady Magdalene’s, that I produced, wrote, and directed — including a “Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Values” given to me at the 2011 Anthem Film Festival. Got that? The very libertarian film festival that I’m calling out here already gave me an award and its parent convention already played my movie that they rejected as unworthy.
Here’s the Anthem Film Festival’s description on Amazon.com’s Withoutabox website inviting filmmakers to submit:
U.S. Narrative Feature
Narrative features must highlight a libertarian theme. They can be any genre–comedy, drama, action, mystery, etc. They must present a problem created by authoritarian control and resolved by personal innovation or free enterprise. The theme may be subtle. The authority could be a parent, employer, or school board, for example; it does not have to be a government. We are looking for films that celebrate individual initiative, personal accountability, and self-reliance.
Say what else you want about Alongside Night as a movie. Maybe you don’t like my storytelling, my directing, the acting performances, the editing, the music, the visual effects. But if you’re a libertarian wanting your values to compete in the marketplace with movies carrying anti-libertarian content and promoting anti-libertarian themes, you still have to acknowledge that the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival’s call for entries describes Alongside Night. If Alongside Night had played at the 2015 Anthem Film Festival it would have been the only narrative feature film this year.
After receiving 300 film submissions the Anthem Film Festival did not select to screen a single narrative feature film — that means a feature-length movie telling a fictitious or fictionalized story, whether drama or comedy — at its 2015 festival. It played only documentaries and short films that usually appeal only to academics and indie film buffs — movies that with rare exception never have commercial appeal to a wide audience.
For a thriller like Alongside Night with a star-driven cast of actors with major film and TV credits, a film score by a composer with credits in dozens of major Hollywood movies and recorded by the National Symphony of Ukraine, visual effects done by a team that did effects for James Cameron’s Titanic, and produced, written, and directed by the only libertarian-feted author who crossed over into being a libertarian feature filmmaker — the only major libertarian movie release this season — not to play at the only film festival claiming to be libertarian is disgusting. That’s a true statement even when made by the subject of that observation, himself.
I don’t need the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival for my movie to succeed both in finding its audience and getting noticed in the media. See my article “Making Liberty Go Viral.”
But I already saw a previous attempt at a libertarian film festival — Jason Apuzzo and Govinda Murty’s 2004-2008 Liberty Film Festival go under as soon as it aligned itself with the neocon David Horowitz Freedom Center.
This year’s FreedomFest, run by Anthem festival director Jo Ann Skousen’s husband, Mark Skousen — allowed GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Marco Rubio a keynote platform speech at the convention without having a libertarian interlocutor to challenge them on their anti-libertarian positions.
A festival representing itself as pro-liberty — and that’s both Freedomfest and the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival — needs what Andy Levy said about me on Fox News’ Red Eye — “full-on” libertarians who don’t soften their expression to appeal to liberals in the media or conservatives inside the beltway.
As I already said, I don’t need Freedomfest or the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival. I can get my movie out without their help.
But we do need libertarian conventions and film festivals in general to popularize libertarian ideas and get them traction in the mainstream culture.
If Jo Ann and Mark Skousen are not to follow Jason Apuzzo and Govinda Murty into having their outreach diverted by statists in libertarian clothing, they’d better pay attention to why I have a successful four-decade career as a libertarian breaking through into the mainstream media: New York and London book publishers, the Los Angeles Times book review and opinion pages, magazines like National Review and Reason, CBS prime-time network television, and now commercial movie outlets.
I already posted on the Freedomfest Facebook page a suggestion for next-year speakers.
I strongly advise them to stop using trivial differences of personal taste or marginalization of the undiluted libertarian expression as a reason to sabotage their own core mission of popularizing “free minds and free markets” and to take my decades of experience into account.
They might also take into account that if Pat Heller and I had not run into each other at FreedomFest in 2011 when I got my Anthem award for Lady Magdalene’s, Alongside Night never would have secured the financing to get made.
Alongside Night Executive Producer Patrick A. Heller
with Anthem Libertarian Film Festival Director Jo Ann Skousen
Photo Courtesy of Liberty’s Outlook
Like or not, Mark and Jo Ann Skousen are godparents to the movie production of Alongside Night.
Postscript July 18, 2015:
In email correspondence following our public exchange of comments Jo Ann and Mark Skousen wished to make clear that they do not in any way endorse my films, and I wished to make clear that the film festival run by Jo Ann Skousen judges libertarian content in films to be anathema. Mark Skousen also wrote that I’m quickly becoming persona non grata at FreedomFest. If FreedomFest does not reverse its course and stop providing higher profile platforms for Republicans and Neocons than hard-core Rothbardian/LeFevrian/Konkinian libertarians, that will be a badge of honor.
Update May 26, 2015:
I was intending to keep the Special YouTube Preview of Alongside Night Full Movie up until the movie was commercially available, a few weeks from now. I had to remove it today when the sponsor of the free web preview, Patrick A. Heller, informed me that a “conservative” website had bypassed the play-list link which had a Liberty Coin Service infomercial preceding the full movie and posted a direct link to the unlisted YouTube video itself. So Pat asked me to take down the now-unsponsored movie and I have.
–J. Neil Schulman
The only real YouTube site for Alongside Night — the full movie!
A 6-minute infomercial from Liberty Coin Service sponsors this free YouTube preview of the movie while the Alongside Night Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack is in production.
We’re making this YouTube preview available so you can spread the word about the movie on your blog or podcast, on social media like Facebook and Twitter, and in User Reviews and Ratings for the movie on IMDb.
Traditional media are also welcome to review the movie.
Alongside Night Author/Filmmaker J. Neil Schulman is available for interviews. Email Neil at jneil[at]jesulu.com.
This DVD-quality print of the movie has stereo sound and English SDH, French & Spanish captions available on YouTube.
It’s the near future and America is in trouble. Hyperinflation and disorder reign in the towns and cities of the nation. The government doesn’t have money to pay the military. A revolutionary group inspired by the Declaration of Independence is fomenting a second American Revolution and the director of a futuristic FEMA is arresting political enemies without court-issued warrants and imprisoning them in a secret prison.
This is the nonstop action and suspense in award-winning indie filmmaker J. Neil Schulman’s latest production, Alongside Night, based on his award-winning 1979 novel endorsed by Nobel-laureate Milton Friedman, A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess, and Dr. Ron Paul.
Starring Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, God’s Not Dead), Said Faraj (Green Zone), Contact and Starship Troopers‘ Jake Busey, Star Trek Voyager‘s Tim Russ and Garrett Wang, Alien Nation‘s Gary Graham, Men in Black 3‘s Valence Thomas, Parks and Recreation‘s Mara Marini, Lady Magdalene’s Ethan Keogh, Adam Meir and Susan Smythe, Kevin Sorbo’s real-life wife, actress Sam Sorbo, singer/songwriter Jordan Page, and real-life activist Adam Kokesh, as well as up-and-coming actors Christian Kramme, Reid Cox, Kyle Leatherberry, Rebekah Kennedy, Charlie Morgan Patton, and Eric Colton, this is a film far more current than The Hunger Games or Divergence series.
This is the story of Elliot Vreeland (Kramme), son of Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Martin Vreeland (Sorbo). When his family goes missing and while being shadowed by federal agents (Faraj and Leatherberry), Elliot, with the help of his mysterious companion Lorimer (Cox), explore the underground world of the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre to find them. It’s a story of romance, intrigue, action, adventure, and exhilarating science fiction thrills.
“J.Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night is at the forefront of libertarian cinema.” — Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly
“Seeing the movie adapted into a full length movie was a dream come true.”
–Sean Gangol, The Libertarian Enterprise
I believe Alongside Night will advance the cause of liberty.”
–Dr. Ron Paul, Ron Paul Channel, June 16, 2014
“The story is, by turns, touching, suspense-filled, violent when violence was called for, highly polemic, and altogether satisfying.”
L. Neil Smith, The Libertarian Enterprise
“ It’s a handsomely produced film for its low budget. Well-acted and ingeniously directed.”
– John DeChancie, best-selling author
“J Neil Schulman’s film Alongside Night is just as brilliant as his original novel and it may be even more so with all of the anarcho-capitalist and libertarian visual Easter eggs placed in the background that are a treat and supreme delight for all of those in the know.”
— Justin Ptak, Facebook
“A movie dedicated to promoting liberty and warning about a too powerful government.” — Coos County Democrat
“Abundant professional talent …supported the making of this fine movie. The result is visually bright and stunning, laced and layered with great music and pregnant with the theme of the unquenchable human spirit seeking liberty.”
–Jerry Jewett, Mondo Cult
Alongside Night has been recognized as an important projection of near-future crises on such diverse mass media as Fox News’ Red Eye, ABC’s On The Red Carpet, The Ron Paul Channel, Alex Jones’ Infowars, Reason.TV, the Larry Elder Show, Las Vegas Weekly, the Libertarian Republic, the Sam Sorbo Show, and many blogs, local TV and radio shows, and podcasts. With recommendations from Ron Paul and Alex Jones to their millions of listeners and viewers this movie has a fan base eagerly awaiting it.
Official Movie Website: http://www.AlongsideNightMovie.com
Official Facebook: http://Facebook.com/AlongsideNightMovie
Official Twitter: http://Twitter.com/AlongsideNight
YouTube Alongside Night Short Video Play List: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-Amt4eMOq4MupHcidoJdPZ2ajFjpIVMv
The old phrase “feels like someone’s walking on my grave” came to mind in the past 48 hours when I read news about the writer/director of an indie film in production, Gray State, being found dead in his home, along with his wife and five-year-old daughter, in what local Minnesota police are calling “suspicious circumstances.” The physical circumstances in which David Crowley and his family were found dead, apparently undiscovered for weeks, suggests David Crowley of Apple Valley, MN, murdered his wife and daughter then took his own life.
David and Komel Crowley / Image credit: Instagram
For several years David Crowley’s life was focused on making an indie suspense thriller with a lot of thematic similarity to my own new indie suspense thriller, Alongside Night, of which I’m the writer/director. Both our movies focused on events following the collapse of the dollar leading to a near-future America in which constitutional rights are dead and those who resist the new fascistic order are being rounded up and sent to FEMA-run detention facilities.
Both David Crowley and myself had appeared as Skyped-in guests with Alex Jones on his radio/Internet show, and received his praise for our cinematic efforts in defense of American liberty.
Both David Crowley and myself found ourselves locked out of Hollywood studio interest for our films.
There is one difference.
David Crowley was a 20-something first-time feature filmmaker who had produced only a concept trailer meant to raise production financing. By contrast Alongside Night was my second feature film, based on a novel I wrote in my 20’s, about David Crowley’s age when he started work on Gray State. My novel was published hardcover by a major New York publisher in 1979 with major literary endorsements, positive major reviews, and several awards picked up over the succeeding decades. Consequently I found the financing to cast known stars and complete production on my movie that David Crowley, despite a successful Indiegogo campaign to raise seed money, never did before his tragic death.
The violent death of a vocal opponent to the United States government in these post-9/11 times of secret Homeland Security warrants, arrest and indefinite detention of persons who with the stroke of a pen are classified as enemy combatants, and intrusive government spying gives way to the unthinkable: what if David Crowley didn’t take his family’s and his own life but was murdered by a clandestine operation and the crime scene engineered to cover up a political murder?
I am just paranoid enough for that possibility to scare the bejeezus out of me.
On the other hand, what if David Crowley lost hope of reaching the goal of a finished movie that I had already achieved – and in his despair lost his mind?
Neither prospect makes it easier for me to sleep at night.
But when Alongside Night does achieve commercial success in its general release later this year, I now feel that I’m not doing it only for my own cast, crew, producers and other supporters, but for David Crowley’s as well.
Recently, inspired by police being in the news, I used my Netflix subscription to watch some first-season episodes of Dragnet 1967 and 1968’s Adam 12, both of them created. produced and directed by Dragnet‘s Sgt Joe Friday, Jack Webb.
If you’re not old enough to remember, these two cop shows are classic episodic dramas. Dragnet, which started in 1949 as a radio drama and ran for nine years on black-and-white 1950’s TV before this late-60’s “in color” return, follows two LAPD detectives, Joe Friday and Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan, later Col. Sherman Potter on M*A*S*H).
A Dragnet spin-off co-created by Webb, Adam 12, follows two LAPD patrol officers, Officer Pete Malloy played by Martin Milner (who’d earlier starred as the hip drifter Tod Stiles on Sterling Silliphant’s Jack Kerouac-inspired Route 66) and Officer Jim Reed, played by Kent McCord, his first starring role.
Jack Webb was a cold-war liberal, which in the 1960’s meant that he was a hard-drinking, chain-smoking social conservative equally against communists, racists, and drug-using hippies. He believed in law-and-order, and was both pro-police and pro-military, though he never served as either (unlike Star Trek‘s very liberal creator, Gene Roddenberry, who served as both a World War II combat pilot and an LAPD officer).
To say that Jack Webb was “by the book” described both the philosophy he imparted to his loquacious police characters and his own production methods, which were Roger-Cormanesque in their efficiency, with a lot of standing sets, minimal takes, and a stock company of character actors often re-used.
As a libertarian I find the anti-drug (especially marijuana) propaganda in Dragnet 1967 ludicrous.
Jack Webb was a drug-warrior in the tradition of Harry J. Anslinger, who headed up the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962. But when Jack Webb said he was for law and order he meant it. His shows had zero tolerance of police corruption, grandstanding, criminality under color of law, or incompetence, and when he showed police doing their job “by the book” it meant not even bending the law. In the very first episode of Dragnet 1967, “The LSD Story,” Webb’s script (credited as John Randolph), broadcast 48 years ago this week, portrays the LAPD detectives unable to make an arrest for possession or use of the drug because it was not on a schedule of illegal substances. Sgt. Friday bemoans his inability to “save” underage kids from this menace — but, ultimately, he obeys the law which says it’s legal.
Adam 12‘s Officers Malloy and Reed won’t even make an arrest when the law says it’s a misdemeanor they haven’t personally witnessed but ask the female witness to make a citizen’s arrest.
Everyone gets read their Miranda rights.
That utopian view of police wasn’t true in 1967. It’s not true today.
But, from a perspective of half a century, Jack Webb’s squeaky-clean LAPD — which doesn’t tolerate shooting unarmed children, strip-searching the elderly, or torturing a neo-Nazi suspect even when his stolen dynamite is about to go off in an elementary school about to be integrated — is a model for how police should look at their jobs.
The framers of our form of government had had quite enough of officers occupying their cities, and today’s paramilitary police departments were never what they had in mind for crime control. They literally believed that the police power was in the hands of a vigilant population who took enforcing the law into their own hands. Most police powers until recently were still in the hands of the civilian population.
But if we’re going to have occupying armies roaming our streets, I’d much rather they be honest and professional officers not scared of their own shadows, rather than the psychotic uniformed and never-liable thugs we’ve recently seen in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and Cleveland, Ohio.