Director's Note


Monday September 16, 2013


Hi all,


So -- wow. What an amazing first week of launch.  In the big picture of the fight for the open Internet this is just one small piece, but the film finally being done and out there marks the completion of one big chapter for me.  So I want to take a minute to say why I wanted to make a movie about Net Neutrality since some folks have asked, and to thank all the people who came together to help make this happen over the past 2-plus years.

To summarize why I wanted to make a movie about this: before this project, I’d mainly worked in TV. I learned a ton, met great people -- but/and the status quo of what can get on the air can be frustrating at times. The more frustrating that became, the more inspired I became by what I saw happening online. The fact that on an open Internet, anyone can tell any story they feel is important, and that story can find its audience, just based on people’s interest in it -- that’s an incredible thing.

We take that for granted. But we shouldn’t, because if the companies that provide us with access to the Internet have their way and get rid of net neutrality, that will likely change.

The more I learned about the ISPs’ plans, the more unsettled I became, and the more I wondered why everyone I knew wasn’t running around feeling unsettled by it.

I don’t think it’s because people don’t care. I think people definitely DO care. But I think "net neutrality" and "municipal broadband" can be boring and confusing to read about on paper. It’s wonky sounding, there’s no narrative arc, the stakes seem abstract. But the stakes really couldn't be higher.

So, creating a fictional character and giving him and arc and injecting some humor seemed worth trying. The fact that people are actually watching it is really exciting. If you haven’t seen it yet I hope you will and that if you like it you’ll share it.

Now I want to take a minute to say THANK YOU so much to everyone who helped make this project happen.

Thank you:

To Jenny Toomey, the first person I pitched this idea to, who believed it was worth taking the risk to back, and whose support set in motion everything that happened thereafter; to Helen Brunner and Lori McGlinchey for joining right away to help get this thing off the ground; and to all three of you for continuing to stay in touch and support throughout -- thank you. To David Haas and Wyncote Foundation for your support.

To Brian Shortall for not only your talent in playing John Wooley but for tolerating a hell of a lot of exploratory shooting til we got it right, scene after scene, city after city, not to mention the bad food, crappy hotels, and that time we almost got arrested at the Verizon store (maybe we'll release that footage out into the world at a later date).

To the brilliant people who star in this movie for taking the time to talk, on camera, for hours, with a fictional character, for a comedic film, about a serious topic: Larry Lessig, Farnum Brown, Susan Crawford, John Hodgman, Tim Wu, Alexis Ohanian, Rashad Robinson, Gigi Sohn, Harold Feld, Robin Chase, Ricken Patel, Craig Aaron, Al Franken, Catharine Rice. Thank you not only for taking that risk, but for advising directly and indirectly on the subject matter. You all are amazing people doing amazing work and this film wouldn’t be what it is without each of your participation.

To our panel of advisors who were not on camera but who collectively spent hours discussing the subject matter with me: Colin Crowell, Jim Baller, Andrew Rasiej, Christopher Mitchell, Josh Levy, Art Brodsky.

To Katy Chevigny for helping me navigate all of the many logistics of my first independent film as an executive producer and friend. To the folks at Arts Engine, my first fiscal sponsor, and the folks at Women Make Movies who are my fiscal sponsor now -- Debra Zimmerman and Lucila Moctezuma -- you guys are great.

To Billy Kimball, resident godfather of TIMG and human super-connector -- thank you for your advice at critical junctures, moral support, and good humor. To Eddie Geller for moving all the way across the country to AP on this in the early stages, and for powering through with me in tons of research and prep; to Sriya Sarkar, Margaret Davidson, Katie Scoones, and Chelsea Moore for your help keeping the wheels in motion logistically, to Amy Meharg for being so expert at production management, and hanging in there through this long haul. To Derek Wiesehahn for lending me your expertise on all things tech. 

To Peri Muldofsky for watching countless hours of raw footage with me and engaging in so much enthusiastic and helpful discussion around all of it -- often until the wee hours of the morning despite a longass commute home to the UWS on the 2 train. To Barney Canson and Jess Yoon who worked tirelessly through post-production, wearing several hats at one time, pretty much all the time. Greg Wright, Lauren Beck, Dave Marcus, Adam Barton, Nate Russell, Ann Husaini, for your collective, bad-ass editing chops. To Jason Cilo, Kara Smith and the folks at Meetinghouse who helped the pull the multimedia across the finish line. To Nan North and Moya Aiken for patiently revisiting and reworking animation til we got it to where it was working, which was so critical to setting up the rest of the film.

To Heidi Nel, Christina DiPasquale, and Trevor FitzGibbon, for working so hard on pulling together a killer outreach and press campaign for launch. To Rebecca Gates and Joe Voss for clearing such an amazing soundtrack and being so generous with your time. To Laura Morell for holding down the fort this summer. To Michael Bracy for all your ongoing help with artist engagement and on the Hill. To John Neffinger for your terrific advice. To Bertis Downs for all of your support.  And to everyone who took the time to come to the preview screenings in CO, DC, NY and SF and participate in strategy conversations afterward. You guys are awesome.

To Adam Mordecai for taking the time to help figure out the best way to kick off and reach the most people when we launched. To the incredible group of individuals and organizations doing day in day out work on these issues who are helping push this film out to raise awareness.

To Roger Williams for the lecture in Amsterdam a couple years back that it was time to take a leap and make an independent film about something I cared about, and advising on specific next steps. To the friends and family who weighed in either with focused feedback or loving encouragement or both along the way: Dora Lievow, Lea Girardin, Emanuel Pariser, Andrew Wan, Camilo Leslie, Craig Duff, Krista Williams, Peter Koechley, Betsy Hart, Peter Pazzaglini, Zach Behr, Emily Kramer, Francis Lyons, Vikram Gandhi, Elizabeth Reddin, Susan Klein-Shilling, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Robe Imbriano, Sarah Namias, Vivien Labaton, Nick Arons, Ben and Beth Wikler, Jen Campbell, Pete Nelson, Seth Grossman, Eben Pariser, Molly Venter, Kate Ogden. I'm lucky to have you all in my life. 

To Brendan Colthurst -- you are a spectacular partner in crime across the board, and a truly incredible friend. 

And finally there's the love of my life and most amazing person I know, my husband Eli Pariser, who uses the open Internet to accomplish so much good it boggles my mind.  Eli -- you’ve cheerfully and patiently put up with 2 and a half years of my puzzling over a short film I thought it would take me *much* less time to make. You've steadied me through my moments of frustration and self-doubt, calmed me through tossing and turning when I was stressed out, rallied me by phone when I was exhausted on the road or in the edit room til late, you've listened for countless hours of excruciating detail around decisions, and tolerated endless changes to our calendar (including the one that involved moving our honeymoon). You've stood by me every step of the way, and never stopped believing that I’d eventually get this weird little movie to where I wanted it to be. I could not have done it without you. And on top of that, and more important, you fill me with joy and inspire me every single day. I love you.

To everyone who worked, volunteered, advised, starred in, supported, and cheered this project on -- thank you for making it possible!!!!


Gena Konstantinakos

Director | Producer

The Internet Must Go