Watch Trailer: Gosnell Film Exposing Abortion Industry Cover-Up Releases October
A vast media and political cover-up kept one devious abortion provider from a reckoning with the law. Now as the story of Gosnell hits the big screen, producers tell all.
This week, GVN Releasing has revealed the first trailer for Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer. Starring Dean Cain (“Superman” on TV’s Lois & Clark), Earl Billings (Con Air) and Sarah Jane Morris (Coyote Ugly), the feature film is slated to release in theaters nationwide on October 12.
In 2010, authorities raided an urban Philadelphia abortion clinic run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell. They had reports it was a “pill mill” working with local drug dealers… but they found much more. Ultimately convicted, Gosnell is today serving a life sentence for the murder of women in his clinic and violating multiple state abortion laws.
Hollywood Didn’t Want This Film Made
The producers behind the film, Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, started work on Gosnell five years ago.
Not only did they notice a media blackout of this scandalous true crime story. They also had to overcome several blockades the film faced, from bias in crowdfunding to actors walking off the project. Notably, the Philadelphia judge on the case barred the film from release last year fearing how he would be portrayed.
Over the next year, several films will address controversial abortion issues. Multiple movies are in development about the Jane Collective, an underground network that helped women obtain illegal abortions in the 1960’s. Reportedly, Sandra Bullock will portray pro-choice Texas legislator Wendy Davis in Let Her Speak. And principal photography on a film about the pivotal Roe v. Wade case just wrapped.
In a phone interview, married production partners McAleer and McElhinney reveal secrets from behind-the-scenes of Gosnell and discuss why this story matters.
Major Crimes, Minor Press Coverage
The Stream: What surprised you most as you began to research this case?
Phelim McAleer: I was there for part of this trial. As a journalist, I’ve gone undercover to report on the troubles and wars of eastern Europe, Indonesia and Vietnam. This was by far the most shocking story I’d ever heard of or seen. For the media to decide it wasn’t worth covering, that was shocking.
We discovered the extent of the cover-up and the knowledge that existed in the community. That was eye-opening. Bureaucrats looked the other way for political reasons. Then heroic police detectives instigated this whole investigation. As a reporter, it’s everything you dream of in terms of a compelling story.
Ann McElhinney: The conditions inside the clinic were very shocking. The facts of the actual stories of the children that died, such as “Baby Boy A” as he was referred to in the trial, are so tragic.
The Stream: Once your team decided to produce this film, what challenges came up with crowdfunding?
McAleer: We had made our previous projects by crowdfunding with Kickstarter. So we submitted this campaign and they said: You can put this film up here, but you have to change how you describe the project. This thing about murdering and stabbing babies, that offends our community values. So you’ll have to remove it.
We don’t want to be part of any community that is offended by the truth, so we pulled out of Kickstarter and went to Indiegogo instead. Kickstarter, which is based in Brooklyn, fancies themselves as patrons of the arts. What they are is patrons of ideological conformity and boring groupthink.
McElhinney: We had a great experience with Indiegogo. Kickstarter wanted us to rewrite the truth, which we were not going to do.
Crafting A Compelling Movie
The Stream: Has producing a dramatic film required new skills than your previous documentaries?
McAleer: It wasn’t a huge switch to making a feature film. Our documentaries have been very story-driven. Our journalism is very much about stories backed up by facts.
Conservatives who produce documentaries often forget it’s a movie they’re making. They think, Just the facts. Yes, but be sure to tell a story! A documentary should have a good guy and a bad guy. It should have a beginning, middle and end.
McElhinney: But there was a learning curve. We had a great team, including producer John Sullivan and director Nick Searcy. Andrew Klavan, producer of True Crime with Clint Eastwood, did the script originally. A lot of it came directly from interviews with the principal people involved.
The Stream: How did you land Dean Cain as the film’s lead, among other stars?
McElhinney: Our casting director was very good and did several casting calls. Dean Cain came on quite early and was enthusiastic about the story. He actually knew the story in advance, which was unlike a lot of the actors.
McAleer: The cast is a very diverse group of people. There are all sorts of political opinions, and we never asked anyone about that. We asked only that they give 100 percent to the role. We were really grateful to the actors who joined the film.
However, we had a few actors agree to do a part then back out. They came up with these ridiculous excuses why they suddenly wouldn’t be able to do the film. I believe Hollywood is afraid of diverse voices that crush their narratives.
When Society Shuts Out Opposing Viewpoints
The Stream: Your previous films focus on debates around global warming and fracking. How do those subjects compare to the divisiveness on the abortion issue?
McElhinney: I think abortion is the most divisive issue in society today. We were certainly surprised by the vitriol we came across once we got involved in this topic. It surpassed anything that we’ve previously been involved with.
Everything came against us much more than we predicted. The hostile environment has made it very difficult to get to where we are right now.
McAleer: Like the Philadelphia press, they want to forget about this story. They covered this as just a local crime. We wrote a bestselling book about the biggest serial killer in American history, right in their city. Not one of them reviewed it.
The book has all these revelations about the story, how Gosnell could have been stopped years in advance. For example, years before he was caught, a Muslim man reported how Gosnell had aborted seven and a half month old twins. The homicide department swept it under the rug and didn’t investigate it further.
Nobody in the Philadelphia press covered this story. I’m not holding out much for the mainstream media with their ideological baggage.
The Stream: When many would prefer to censor a story like this rather than give it a fair hearing, how can people advance the cultural conversation?
McAleer: One thing to do is go and see this movie. When people make projects about the abortion issue, they need to go and see them and be part of that cultural movement.
McElhinney: Otherwise, the conversation about abortion is left to the Hollywood billionaires and supporters of Planned Parenthood who tell a different story. Very often, it’s an untruthful one.
How Gosnell Informs Current Headlines
The Stream: With the latest U.S. Supreme Court nominee being front-page news right now, how is this legal thriller relevant?
McElhinney: With this Supreme Court nomination, everyone is talking about abortion. This movie brings home the story of abortion in a way that is very personal and easily accessible to everyone.
The timing is kind of perfect. There’s a possibility that there will be legal change in America. But what needs to happen is there needs to be a change of heart. Along with any legal changes that may happen, the country needs to change their attitude and thinking about abortion.
Certainly, it will help them if they watch this movie and learn about this story. Every time I’ve shown the film to groups around the country in sneak previews, people learn things they didn’t know. The fact is that there’s so much ignorance of the law.
Also, we were careful not to make this film gory. It’s like a Law & Order episode. It’s the trial of Kermit Gosnell and it flashes back to the investigation. There are no gory scenes in it. There’s nothing you couldn’t bring a teenager to.
McAleer: People need a change of knowledge too. Part of this film process is we had to learn the facts about abortion. They came out organically in the court case.
A lot of movies about abortion are coming out in the next year or so. We’re happy that ours is a quality piece. It’s not preachy. It’s a trial and a crime investigation that is interesting, well-written, dramatic and well-acted. The more films, the better actually.
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content including disturbing images and descriptions, Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer opens in theaters nationwide on October 12.