Power. Privilege. Politics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I see the documentary?

You can find a list of theaters that are carrying the film here. If there is not a theater near you, then please contact us and we’ll notify you when it airs on TV in your market area or when it becomes available online.

Why make a documentary about House Speaker Mike Madigan?

Madigan has been House speaker in Illinois for more than 30 years, and has held elected office for more than 40 years. He has been dubbed “King of Illinois” and is widely regarded as the most powerful politician in the state – yet he is largely unknown to most average Illinoisans.
In a state without term limits, all Illinoisans deserve the chance to explore the speaker’s role in shaping state politics for the last four decades.

Why make a documentary about Madigan now? 

llinois is facing unprecedented challenges. Illinois is home to the worst population loss in the Midwest, the worst employment recovery in the Midwest, the worst credit rating in the nation, the worst pension crisis in the nation and the highest property taxes to boot. It’s not pretty. Madigan has been the kingpin of state politics for decades, and it’s time for a peek behind the curtain of how the political machines in Illinois really work.

Was Madigan interviewed, or asked to be interviewed, for the documentary?

He declined to be interviewed through his spokesman.

Who is behind the documentary?

The film was produced by Emergent Order. You can check out more of their work here. Funding for the film came from Illinois Policy Action.

Who is Emergent Order? 

Emergent Order is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and media company based in Austin, Texas. The team is composed of film, television and media veterans. You can learn more here.

Why did they produce the documentary?

From John Papola, founder and CEO of Emergent Order: “When Illinois Policy Action approached Emergent Order to produce a film about Michael Madigan, we had two requirements to get involved: First, our team would need final cut to ensure creative integrity. Second, we asked: ‘Is Michael Madigan as a character compelling enough for a film?’ It didn’t take long to discover that Madigan is one of the most interesting characters in American politics. It’s amazing there isn’t already a television series about his life.”

What was the most interesting part of this experience?

Learning just how far Madigan’s power and intimidation reach. Interviewees feared for their livelihoods. Three in-state production companies wouldn’t take the job, saying they couldn’t risk reprisal. The crew that decided to make the film received death threats. From media personalities to editors to producers to current and former elected officials, many did not want to comment on Madigan. There is a chilling silence – people are afraid to simply tell the truth of how the machine works. This fear is not healthy as our state faces its greatest crisis in generations.

Can you give some examples of how this fear of Madigan plays out?

We interviewed three local production companies to participate in the film and all declined because of fear of the subject, Mike Madigan. One interviewee in the film, who we refer to as “M,” asked us to hide his identity for fear of retribution. That speaks volumes about Madigan’s reach and his role.

Are you worried about the consequences of releasing this film?

We expect retaliation. When and in what form, time will tell. But we have to tell the people of Illinois the truth or there will never be a chance for true reform that puts the days of Illinois’ machine politics behind us once and for all.

Why does all this matter?

Because the poor, the vulnerable, the disadvantaged schoolchildren, the unemployed manufacturing workers, the homeowners being driven from their homes by skyrocketing property taxes – they all suffer because Illinois is a failing state. To build a reform movement and fix the state, the people must first know the truth. This film is one small step in the journey for truth.

How were the interviewees selected?

Our team and dozens of others in the political and media arenas were consulted as to who would have a unique perspective on Madigan’s life and tenure as House speaker.

Are you making money on this?

We are selling tickets to help defray the costs of the theatrical distribution but this will not be a moneymaker for us. We did it because the public should know all they can about the subject.

What is Illinois Policy Action exactly?

Illinois Policy Action is the advocacy arm of the Illinois Policy Institute. Action is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization and the Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. You can learn more here.
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