You seem to have had incredible access. How were you able to tell this story from the inside?
We initially found out that the lawsuit was going to be filed around May 2009. We approached the American Foundation for Equal Rights, who gave us permission to meet with Ted Olsen and David Boies, as well as the plaintiffs involved in the case. We said to them, "On the outside chance that this becomes something really important, can we film this for archival purposes and maybe someday make a documentary out of it?" They were gracious enough to let us film behind the scenes, and as the case snowballed we were right there alongside them. We had already been embedded with them for four years by the time we got to the Supreme Court.
At what point did you realize the magnitude of the story you were telling?
We worked on the movie for three years without even knowing if it would become a finished film. If the case didn't end up before the Supreme Court, I don't know if someone like HBO would have come on board, and the film definitely wouldn't have had the epic third act that it does now. In December 2012, when the Supreme Court said it would hear the case, that's when we went into hyperdrive.
The lawyers really seemed to open their doors to you.
We spent a lot of time getting to know these people and trying to blend into the background. We wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible to their process. We'd slip in and out of rooms, sometimes in the middle of meetings. People got so used to us being there that eventually we were just allowed to be part of that process.
Was it the same way with the plaintiffs?
The plaintiffs were a little bit different. With the lawyers we were just asking to film their work lives, but with them it was their personal lives. It was definitely a process of making them feel comfortable with the fact that we would be following them. By year five we were doing a lot more following than in year one. They didn't sign up to be celebrities or stars of a documentary, so we were incredibly grateful with the access they and their families gave us. That's the heart of our narrative.
How were Kris, Sandy, Jeff and Paul selected as the plaintiffs?
The American Foundation for Equal Rights spent a lot of time trying to find couples that were appropriate. Because same-sex marriage had been legal in California for several months in 2008, most of the people who were ready to get married at that point in their lives had already done so. So it was a bit of a challenge to find two couples who were not married but were looking to be. They met with a lot of people and wanted to find some who would also be good spokespeople in the press, and would do well on the stand. We're incredibly glad they picked Kris and Sandy and Jeff and Paul, since hearing them speak on the witness stand was one of the most moving days of our lives.
Were you surprised by the difference between the prep and the witness testimony?