Interview - Dan Feinstein

Interview: Dan Feinstein, Candidate for California & Visual Effects for Films Artist: 21st August 2003

We interview Dan Feinstein, an everyday bloke, for a movie man, who is looking to make California a better place.

What's your background?

I'm a second generation Californian. I was born here, went to public school here, went to state university here. I've lived in bad neighborhoods and good, been unemployed and had good jobs. I'm not a millionaire or movie star, I'm just an average guy who understands what life is like for the little guy.

Why should you be considered for the top job in California?

Because as a regular citizen, I don't owe anyone anything. I haven't been bought and sold by special interests. I'm not a career politician with a cynical view people - I am one of the people. And like many Californians, I have common sense solutions for fixing what's wrong with our government. I feel a true citizen Governor will benefit the state.

To the uninitiated, what does "reform minded independent Democrat" mean?

This means I'm not a party line Democrat. I'm not a career politician who has to follow what the party leaders say. I'm in favor of reforming the institutionalized corruption in the big political parties, so they'll act in the best interests of the people, not in the best interests of the money people.

What do you stand for?

I'm in favor of making cuts at the top first and implementing common sense solutions for the problems facing our state. I want to spur the growth of small businesses, keep higher education affordable, reform K-12 (primary) education, and ensure the long term prosperity of our state.

What don't you stand for?

Big money interests who are enriching themselves to the detriment of the majority of Californians.

Who are your main supporters? - why?

It's hard to determine who my supporters are. So far, it's just friends and family. I realize I'm a lower tier candidate who may not be able to get his message out effectively. As such, I may have few supporters right now. Despite that, I feel my ideas will eventually filter up to the places of power. I may not win, but my ideas, hopefully, will become part of the political landscape.

Your detractors? - why?

The big time politicians don't like me. Dianne Feinstein (senior Senator from California), who I share a last name with, feels I'm in the same league with Larry Flynt (porn publisher) and the adult film star. I don't think she had seen my platform when she made that statement though. Perhaps I can still change her mind.

If you got the job, what would the first things you would do, from a practical and administrative perspective?

The first thing I'd do would be to call all the former California Governors for advice. I've already gotten some words of wisdom from Jerry Brown (current Mayor of Oakland and former Governor) regarding my campaign. From an administrative perspective, I would begin to cut the fat at the top. California has many commissions - these are the bloated ticks of state government. They are filled with people appointed by the Governor as political pay back for campaign favors, etc. The commissioners are highly paid and do nothing. I'd go after them first.

Ok, if you didn't get in, and one of the others did, do you prefer Arnie, Abner or someone else? - why?

I would love for another citizen candidate to get in. I don't like any of the big name candidates. They are all loathsome creatures in my opinion and will be terrible for the state. I won't endorse any particular citizen candidate, but there are at least thirty or so I'd be okay with. There are so many bright, creative and concerned people running - I hope the general public takes some of them seriously.

When your not running in political circles, what keeps you busy?

Recently I've started directing short films. My vocation is working in visual effects for big budget Hollywood films, where I'm a small cog in the machine. So in my spare time, I enjoy being the main creative person on small, personal films.

What are you most well known for?

That's a good question. I have no idea. I wish I knew.

What would you like to be known for?

Ultimately, I'd like to be known as a multi-faceted person who was able to accomplish a lot in disparate fields. Right now, I'm working on having a positive impact on state policy.

What are the highlights of your motion picture career?

I've worked on the visual effects for a multitude of movies including; The Haunting, Cast Away, Hollow Man, Cats and Dogs, Evolution, Blade II, Men in Black II, The Santa Clause II, Tears of the Sun, T3, Timeline and right now I'm part of the effects crew on a picture called Hidalgo. It comes out in the fall - it looks good.

How did you get a break in the movie business?

I was working in video post production and learned enough to land a job at a small visual effects company in Berkeley called Tippett Studio. I've since moved on to work at other facilities.

When and why did you decide to run for California?

I decided to run when I heard the politicians raised the fees at the California State University system 25% and at the University of California system 30%. This is the sheer folly, because it will kill the goose that laid the golden egg; affordable, quality higher education is the fuel of the state's great economic prosperity. Of course raising the fees also limits the potential of a generation of young people who are on the lower ebbs of society.

Why are so many politicians held in disdain?

Because they're all about money and personal ambition. That is exactly the reason why so many civic minded regular citizens are running in this recall election - they're sick of being led by cheap criminals in expensive suits.

Is your current effort a one off shot, or would you run again in the future,if need be?

I would consider running again, sure. But the unique thing about the recall is the requirements for running were lessened to let regular people in. A closed political system was, for the first time, opened just a bit. Who knows if we'll have this opportunity again.

What do people who know you well say about Dan Feinstein?

I don't know, they usually don't talk about me to me. I wish I knew what they were saying, what have you heard?

What other media coverage have you attracted recently, and in the past?

I've been interviewed by some local media, talked to some AP and LA Times reporters. And a journalist at the Sac Bee, Steven Weintraub, said some nice things about me. Mostly, the coverage I've gotten is about how my last name is the same as Dianne Feinstein the senator. Some assume I'm trying to trick people into thinking I'm her. This, of course, is not my intent.

Has the Sac Bee been fair and balanced to all the candidates?

Yes, as far as I can tell.

What motivates you?

This is a good question. What drives me is remembering the feeling of being a student at San Jose State University, struggling to put myself through school and then being hit with a 40% retroactive fee increase. I also remember when I was laid off by a silicon valley company and had to survive for six months looking for work. I've been through some tough times. Thankfully, I was able to make it and now I have a decent job and I'm doing well. Because of my experiences, I want to ensure public policy works to help, not hinder the ordinary person.

What's your motto?

"Don't vote for the name, vote for the ideas." That's more of a campaign slogan.

What's the best thing about living in California?

There's no one best thing about California - we have a great natural environment, the nice weather, a lot of jobs, a casual atmosphere. But having lived for a time in New York City - which is great in a lot of ways too - I realized how much fresh produce California has. In other places, the produce is surprisingly bad. You take it for granted when you're here, but it's pretty rare everywhere else. No wonder people are healthier here. This is making me hungry, I think I'll eat a nectarine....

When all the buzz has settled down, what will you do to relax?

Relax? What's that? I'll have to work a lot of overtime to help pay for the $3500. filing fee. Only millionaires get to relax.

What else should we know about you?

Maybe you know too much already. It was never about me personally, it's really about my ideas - my solutions for the state's problems.


Editors note: An interesting, honest interview! wow. He may not win, but he has our respect.


Dan Feinstein for Governor official website

Dan Feinstein profile - Los Angeles Times

Media Man Australia, Greg Tingle, interviews Daniel Weintraub, Columist, The Sacramento Bee

You Are Too Far From

Hundreds may enter California governor's race - The Seattle Times

Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television

Full Circle Productions

Telling big stories in panorama and depth David Kennerly's formula -- right place, right time - SF Gate


Who is Dan Feinstein? (courtesy and full credit to Dan Feinstein for Governor official website)

While the name may sound familiar, the ideas probably don’t. I’m not running on the name, I’m running on the idea that a real person with common sense should run our government. The political personalities run on their name and celebrity, but lack the sense of what it’s like for the average person. The question is, who can best understand the needs and concerns of an average Californian: a millionaire, a career politician or another person like yourself?

Some have asked me, why do think you can be governor? You have no experience in politics; you have no experience in Sacramento. Maybe they should ask the ‘professional’ politicians about the latest farce of a budget. Ask why these ‘experienced’ leaders are laying off teachers. And ask why the men with the perfect political resumes let the lights go out all over the state.

Maybe it’s time for an honest citizen governor – one with less of this ‘professional’ experience.

Let me tell you where I do have experience. My experience is being a second generation Californian; I was born here, went to public school and State University here, lived and worked in the northern and southern parts of the state – both good neighborhoods and bad. I’m not a millionaire businessman, professional politician or a famous movie star. I’m like you. And like you, I’m enraged at what the politicians, cut off from the people, have done to our state.

Some facts about me:

Birthplace: Pomona, California
Age: 40
Degree: BA, San Jose State University
Occupation: Visual effects artist for the motion picture industry

Volunteer work:
In the 1980s, volunteered for various community and educational video projects and helped provide community training and greater access to media production. President’s Award from De Anza College for this work. Also award from City of Cupertino.

In the 1990s, worked with a student group challenging fee hikes at the CSU system; lobbied elected officials, helped design and carry out media campaigns and awareness building activities. Worked with anti police brutality group in San Jose. This lobbying and community advocacy eventually led to the appointment of an independent auditor to handle police brutality complaints for the city.