During the final night of the Democratic National Convention, the audience was treated to Hillary, a documentary created by Shonda Rhimes and her producing partner, Betsy Beers, that showed the Democratic presidential nominee in a different light.
“I wanted everyone who sees it to feel like they were sitting with a friend, drinking coffee, so that had to be authentic,” Rhimes shared with PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. Rhimes and Beers sat with Clinton for five hours, sipping tea, and going over Clinton’ life and career. Rhimes has worked on ads for Clinton’s campaign before, but this project required the TV phenom to pack tons of Clinton’s history into a 12-minute short film.
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“It was invigorating. The geeky student in me who loves doing homework and research, I got to immerse myself in photos and articles,” Rhimes said, “I’ve spent more time on Hillary Clinton’s Flickr page than any other human being on the planet.” Beers and Rhimes received the call to create the film just as they were headed for vacation. Beers remembers, “Shonda and I looked at each other and went, ‘There goes vacation.'”
The toughest part of creating the film, according to Beers and Rhimes, was finding a way to present Clinton to an audience who’s known her since the ’90s. “There were so many stories that one of the massive challenges for us initially was, honestly, sifting,” said Beers. Rhimes adds, “It was a mini-series when we first started. It could have been three hours.”
Even with a tight 12 minutes to showcase Clinton’s life and work, Rhimes and Beers still enjoyed working on the project. Rhimes told PEOPLE, “As a writer who builds characters for a living, it was exciting to take an actual human being and pieces of who she is and see how it builds a person and her character, why she is who she is. Given the Trumpiness of the world today, we felt like we were doing the work of angels.”