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A teenage coming-of-age story. A live event that reveals what people really think. A way to more meaningful political dialogue in 2012.
A teenage coming-of-age story. A live event that reveals what people really think. A way to more meaningful political dialogue in 2012.
275 backers pledged $27,082 to help bring this project to life.

WORLD PREMIERE & social media blitz (with your help)!

Dear amazing backers!

The time has come for our World just 3 days at the Republican National Convention, with a twin Premiere at the Democratic National Convention the following week! Thank you again for all you have done to support the film, because without you this really wouldn't be possible!

Without the outpouring of enthusiasm & so many great things from so many wonderful people during Kickstarter, we never would have had the motivation or the resources (and certainly not the budding support in the media) to take the steps toward making this happen...and even so, as you'll see in the Press Release copied below, it's only come together in the past several days! We're off to Tampa in a few short hours (hurricane weather permitting), so beyond this brief note I'm just going to copy our Press Release below (images after the long, and it is a bit too long, release...we are bullet-pointing it for press we don't know personally!)

If you have any ideas for Press we should contact, please contact me (Jonathan -- or preferably our publicist Brian Geldin (; 917 549-2953)

If you can help us spread the word & link to the website and/or "tag" our Follow the Leader Facebook page in posts & tweets today and through the week, that would be awesome! We can't wait to update you again at the end of the week after Thursday's World Premiere, when we'll be making some further announcements too!

In gratitude,

Political Coming-of-Age Film Follow the Leader to Premiere at RNC & DNC Conventions Convention Screenings Are Kick-Off Events for ʻReality Checkʼ Tour,
Over 100 Events Will Provoke Meaningful Dialogue Surrounding 2012 Elections
Film Chronicles Three Years in the Lives of Teen Boys With Presidential Dreams, Outreach Campaign Features Unique Episodic Film Presentation with Interactive Voting Late Senator Ted Kennedy, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Senator John McCain, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Presidential Candidate Mike Dukakis & Former President Bill Clinton Appear in Rare Non-Judgmental Film Designed to Appeal to Viewers Across Political Spectrum.

New York, New York August 24, 2012 – Jonathan Goodman Levittʼs FOLLOW THE LEADER, a real-life coming-of-age story of three traditional American boys with Presidential dreams, announces the launch of the Reality Check Tour beginning with premiere events taking place at the Republican National Convention in Tampa and Democrat National Convention in Charlotte. Following the conventions, over 100 college and community events are being mapped out surrounding this year's November elections to encourage more meaningful and reflective conversations about American political realities.

Just one week ago the production company Changeworx decided to forego a traditional film festival launch, and instead to premiere the just-completed film at the National Political Conventions so that the country's “Reality Check” could begin as soon as possible. “Our political dialogue in America is too often either negative or focused on small details that don't really matter,” according to Levitt. “We've made a fair-minded film that takes a unique new approach to exploring and sparking discussions about American political realities. The positive political dialogue that the film provokes needs to start as soon as possible.”

In FOLLOW THE LEADER, sixteen-year-old, high school class presidents Ben (The Loyalist from Virginia), D.J. (The Believer from Massachusetts) and Nick (The Idealist from Pennsylvania) are all conservatives who plan to continue leading their peers as President someday. Over three life-changing years, they split into Republican, Democratic and Independent camps as each reconsiders his lofty ambitions. Growing up at a critical moment for America as well, their lives also force us all to rethink our assumptions about tomorrowʼs leaders, the impact of 9/11 on them, and the political views of the millennial generation – which are more complicated than most people currently believe. As shocking as “Jesus Camp,” as revealing as “American Teen,” and as funny as “Spellbound” – FOLLOW THE LEADER is the true story of what change means for three young leaders who feel destined to lead the world.

FOLLOW THE LEADER's WORLD PREMIERE will be held on the final afternoon of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, on Thursday, Aug. 30 at 1:00pm. The event's host will be the Improv Theatre, Ybor City (1600 East 8th Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33605. For tickets call 813-864-4000 or $8 general admission, $5 for students/seniors 65+. $3 additional fee for booking online.) Microsoft is underwriting a "Conversations with the Next Generation" Town Hall panel discussion the day before in the same venue, making Tampa's Improv Comedy Club an unlikely home for important conversations about millennials at the RNC Convention. Filmmaker Jonathan Goodman Levitt and main participant Nick Troiano will attend screenings at both the RNC and DNC conventions, and both screenings will be followed by Q&A sessions with them.

The PREMIERE at the Democratic National Convention of FOLLOW THE LEADER will also take place on the final day of the event, Sept. 6, at a location to be confirmed next week. Both screenings will also be occasions to publicly announce a variety of further plans, including details about FOLLOW THE LEADER:REALITY CHECK INTERACTIVE (FTL:RCI), a live transmedia experience featuring FOLLOW THE LEADER that will premiere in late September in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. FTL:RCI will also be a “Centerpiece” event during The Paley Center for Mediaʼs DOCFEST ( in New York on Oct. 16. FTL:RCI voting technology will also be used for audience participation at a viewing party for the Presidential Debate held following the interactive screening that night.

REALITY CHECK INTERACTIVE is a unique live event that combines a special presentation of FOLLOW THE LEADER in “episodes” that alternate with live, facilitated interactive voting sessions. Using keypads linked to participants' demographic information, FTL:RCI allows viewers to engage with the film's characters, political ideas, and each other on a journey of political and personal discovery. Results from questions are shown on an interactive screen in real-time, so that FTL:RCI participants can learn what other viewers who differ from them politically and otherwise really think. FTL:RCI's lead facilitator is collective intelligence expert Chris Bui, who has led over 2,000 governmental and civic meetings since getting his start running independently-organized consensus-building Interactive Town Halls during the 1992 Ross Perot campaign. FOLLOW THE LEADER itself is uniquely designed to encourage discussions across the political spectrum because it attracts documentary's traditional progressive-leaning audience, and also more conservative viewers who get the relatively rare opportunity to see their views fairly-represented through the main characters on-screen. Rich Tafel (founder of Log Cabin Republicans and Public Squared) calls FOLLOW THE LEADER “completely authentic...and without political bias like no film I've ever seen.”

According to Levitt, “After living abroad during 9/11 and for nearly a decade, FOLLOW THE LEADER began as a personal investigation into the politics of todayʼs youth, whose contradictory views confused me while teaching in the U.S. Post-9/11. By sympathetically portraying its characters on their own terms, the film provokes us to reexamine both our preconceptions about youth and conservatives, as well as our own political views. But more than that, our aim is to force people to reflect on the entrenched inequalities within the American political system in a different way. The traditional methods of motivating such discussions aren't working – often because such efforts themselves are politically motivated, and because they don't even bring people of all political stripes to the table.”

FOLLOW THE LEADER and REALITY CHECK INTERACTIVE are not intended to sway voters to choose a particular party or candidate in the upcoming Presidential election, unlike the new documentary “2016: Obamaʼs America,” which wears its political agenda on its sleeve as it tries to influence the elections, just as Michael Moore's “Farenheit 9/11” attempted unsuccessfully in 2004. Unlike these overtly-partisan films, FOLLOW THE LEADER instead tries to increase cross-partisan dialogue, decrease political polarization, provoke thoughtful consideration of American inequalities in new ways, and encourage a conversation about tomorrow's leaders. “It's not about choosing a side or about partisan arguments,” says Levitt, “but about having an open mind and surprising yourself.”

At special preview screenings this summer, FOLLOW THE LEADER was warmly received at high-profile gatherings of both progressive and conservative activists, a rare feat for any documentary, especially one on such political subject matter. At the Roosevelt Institute's Summer Academy, over 75 progressive student leaders discussed diverse reactions to the film, and how the baseline realities of today's political leadership is rarely considered within the political dialogue. For some “Roosevelters,” the film humanized those on the “right” who they hadn't understood before and forced them to question their own beliefs. At Grover Norquist's famed “Wednesday Meeting” for conservative activists at the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a presentation about the film was also made to an enthusiastic audience. A screening was held at ATR immediately following the meeting that led to a spirited discussion about, among other topics, how tomorrow's generation is redefining what “liberalism” and “conservatism” mean for the future.

Among the many prominent politicians on both ends of the political spectrum making cameos in FOLLOW THE LEADER are the late Senator Ted Kennedy (his last film); U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; former President Bill Clinton; U.S. Senator from Arizona John McCain, who ran against Barack Obama for President in 2008; Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General of Virginia, and a candidate for Governor of Virginia in 2013 who was just named one of Politico's rising stars on the verge of national prominence; Deval Patrick, current Governor of Massachusetts, and the second African-American elected Governor of any U.S. state; Michael Dukakis, the longest-serving Governor in Massachusetts history, who in 1988 was the Democratic Nominee for President; Niki Tsongas, the first woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts in 25 years who now represents the stateʼs 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House; and Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of Bloomberg L.P., and current Mayor of New York City.

Changeworx is in the process of following up with colleges and other community groups who have requested screenings, and the Reality Check Tour will run primarily in October and November. Outreach Partnerships are formed with about 20 organizations, including diverse groups such as the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, Purple States, Living Room Conversations and Rock the Vote. The filmmakers are seeking American distribution, and invite any interested parties to request screenings for later in the year on their website. TV broadcast deals for the film have already been agreed in seven foreign countries including Japan (NHK) and the U.K. (C4).

For more information on FOLLOW THE LEADER and to stay updated on future Reality Check events, visit: (Official Website)
(Facebook) (Twitter)

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Huffington Post & FoxNews, NYC Backer Preview, A Unique Premiere Idea and Exclusive Clips!

Dear amazing FTL & RCI backers!

What a whirlwind two weeks since our engagement campaign ended it has been! Your belief in & enthusiasm for Follow the Leader & our overall outreach plans has continued to push us forward since we last updated you just after the campaign ended. There hasn't been much time to catch our breath, and we've hit the ground running as this new chapter began this month.

We've been meeting with various parties to discuss our distribution, and have been blown away by continuing interest that's come our way even before more concrete plans are finalized & announced. The most recent coverage was published Friday in The Huffington Post, and FoxNews did a segment about the film (and an interview with me) on Thursday.

We don't want to bombard you with an “update” every time there is coverage that might interest you – but we will announce press & appearances we know about through our social media. Please “like” us on Facebook & follow us on Twitter if you don't already. Apart from keeping you informed, supporting us through social media helps show the demand for the film to many people we still need to convince. You are our most engaged & knowledgeable supporters, and we would absolutely love it if you tweeted about the film as you saw fit, and posted & participated on Facebook. We want our Facebook page to become a home for thoughtful & civil cross-partisan dialogue throughout this election season, and we need your help to make that a reality!

This Wednesday, we also welcome many of you to our Backer Screening at RH Gallery in TriBeCa, New York City, at 7pm. We've reviewed our “backer reports” and changed our stated rules – so if you'll be in NYC this Wednesday & pledged $50 or more during the campaign, you are invited to join us (whether you selected the screening as a reward or not)! By the demand of a few people who missed the Kickstarter deadline, we have also opened it up to post-Kickstarter supporters who've donated $100 or over (via the PayPal link on our website). There is also a Facebook event, if you would like to share your attendance with friends! Please RSVP to (that's me directly) if you haven't already so that we can provide for food, drink & chairs accurately. The event remains an intimate gathering for just 40-50 people & will feature:

Q&A with Filmmaker Jonathan Goodman Levitt (plus surprise guests);
Refreshments including delicious cheese & cracker selection, and some home-baked treats;
Crew, outreach team & backer recognition (with several on our team in attendance);
A celebration of last month's success thanks to YOU!

The coming weeks & months will bring further news about what we have in the works, but for now we'll share one new idea: We don't want to wait for a traditional premiere because the film needs to be seen right away to influence more thoughtful political dialogue starting NOW. So we are trying on short notice to organize our Premieres during the RNC & DNC in just a few weeks – and on principle, we don't want to screen at one Convention if we can't also share the film at the opposing Convention too. If you have contacts in either Party or perhaps among the Convention organizers, or any advice to offer, please contact me/us as soon as possible. We welcome all input as always.

Thank you again & forever for backing us & making what we're doing now possible!

Jonathan & Team Follow the Leader

P.S. Before the Conventions, we'll be adding a featured clip with each main character to our website...but we'll be releasing them first exclusively here on Kickstarter. First up (in alphabetical order) is Ben, here seen as he starts his internship with the current Attorney General of Virginia & Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

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A Special Limited-Time Treat for You, Our Backers


For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

OUR SHARED SUCCESS -- THANKS TO YOU (+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u+u!!!)


YOU ARE THE BEST! With 5 minutes to go, we made it because each of you believed, because each of you sacrificed, because each of you trusted our Team's vision. We can't thank you enough -- but throughout the film's distribution we will do our best to show us how much we appreciate everything you've done here this month.

What an incredible ride -- and what an incredible week! We're stunned by your generosity and by how TEAM FOLLOW THE LEADER pulled together to make everything happen. And by the way, with a couple of minutes to go our final backer was none other than...Ben Trump!

Tomorrow, we'll be sending a more detailed thank you to all of our backers; a special note of recognition to some of you who've gone way, way, way beyond the call of duty; and a note of recognition to all the members of our team who've been responsible for everything happening behind the scenes, in ways that I'll actually have to investigate further before getting back to you!

Thank you for keeping our phones ringing these past couple of days -- personally, I've talked to people in the past month who I haven't talk with in 5, 10, even 25 years in a number of cases! And for the filmmaking team, it's really a tribute that throughout the month we've had the strong support of all three of our "main characters" and their families. The fact that Ben, and Nick & D.J. before him -- along with several of their family members -- insisted on becoming backers means so much to us all.

We can't thank each and every one of you enough for what you've done here to make this major step for all of us possible. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING -- because of you, our film & interactive project's life in the real world can now begin!!!


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For the last 25 minutes (and right now) I've been on the phone with 86-year-old George Blume, the lion of American Legion Boys State in Virginia where I met Ben for the first time in 2006. He was also the Legislature Director at Boys Nation for 38 years -- and there he taught Nick in his final year before retiring. At the time, he was also retiring as a Professor at Virginia Tech. We're trying to get George logged in, because he wants to make a pledge -- and we're having some trouble. We're about to give up. I think that's just been decided. But in any case we're starting where we started with our characters...back at the beginning when they were sixteen, with someone who knew two of them.

George is going to send a check, but if each of our backers contributed another $5 now, we would be at our goal.

Thanks for doing anything your can in the next few minutes -- we are already eternally grateful to you!