Kathy Griffin says two days into the fallout of her 2017 photo posing with a fake severed head of President Donald Trump, she knew she should film what was happening.
She was losing jobs, making headline news and the topic of widespread scrutiny, not to mention the subject of a government investigation into whether she was a credible threat.
“I kept saying, ‘I think this is an important, historic story,'” Griffin told The Associated Press. “The President and the Department of Justice shouldn’t make you unemployable and uninsurable.”
The problem was no one wanted anything to do with her. So, she picked up her iPhone and began filming. There’s no glam, no production crew — not even microphones. Griffin says she just knew she needed to capture what was happening in the moment and to keep it real.
The result is a feature film, “Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story” that’s part documentary, part comedy special. She financed it herself and carried a poster from interview to interview on a recent press day.
“Look, I made it at Kinkos, OK? I’m still on the D-list,” she quipped, referring to the Bravo reality series that earned her two Emmy Awards.
The documentary portion gets raw, Griffin said. “Like ugly Kathy, no makeup, crying.” But it’s also funny. Griffin taped stand-up that’s edited into the film. (She tried to sell it as a stand-alone comedy special and “nobody would even look at it.”)
The film was well-received at SXSW earlier this year. Fathom Events agreed to show it July 31 in 700 U.S. theaters. What happens next is anyone’s guess — Griffin just knows she will keep hustling and she’s not giving up.
“I just want people to know you don’t have to go down. You can take a few punches, but after I kick the bucket, I want somebody to go, ‘You know that crazy red head? They got her but she didn’t go down.'”
If you miss one of the showings on July 31, Griffin is the first to admit she doesn’t know how fans can see it next. She’s hoping it gets picked up somewhere and she’d like to see it available internationally as well, teaching as much about Griffin as Trump.
“Now that I’ve traveled the world with this story, I know that there’s a genuine interest in, ‘Who’s this guy, what’s his deal, how does he operate?'”
She’s learned to fend for herself by bankrolling her shows, learning about promotions and ad buys and even coordinating the concession and ushers. “It was harder, but it sure kept me busy,” said Griffin.
She also had to buy metal detectors because “there were all kinds of incidents. A guy came at me with a knife in Houston,” she said.
Even though she says some people remain convinced she’s a member of ISIS, she refuses to apologize for the photo and that it didn’t break the law. (She did say she was sorry in the immediate aftermath, but later revoked it.)
“You can be as offended by that photo all you want, that doesn’t bother me at all. But I want people to know I didn’t break the law. If you take a photo like that, you didn’t break the law. I didn’t violate the First Amendment in any way. If you take a photo like that, you didn’t violate the First Amendment in any way.”