At the Manufacturing Dissent premiere during SXSW, Debbie Melnyck claimed that she and co-director Rick Caine originally intended to film a straightforward biography of activist/filmmaker Michael Moore, whose movies they enjoy. However, circumstances transformed the project into a look not only at Moore but at documentary filmmaking. Manufacturing Dissent discusses the filmmaking tactics used by Moore and also uses some of those same tactics to create an interesting film. In other words, this is a Michael Moore-style documentary about Moore himself. The documentary follows Moore on his 2004 "Slacker Uprising" tour when he attempted to persuade college students and other young voters to participate in that year's Presidential election. During the tour, Melnyck tried to get an interview with Moore, but encountered resistance.
Moore's staff is shown as being uncooperative to Melnyck and her crew -- they're unable to plug into the sound feed at one press conference, and during one of Moore's speeches in Ohio, they are escorted from the building after an altercation with Moore's sister. The film is narrated by Melnyck, who occasionally appears on-camera when asking Moore why he won't consent to an interview, or when she's dealing with Moore's staff. This 2004 footage is interspersed with a biography of Moore's life, focusing on points that differ from the public persona we associate with him. For example, Moore grew up not in Flint, Michigan proper but in Davison, a wealthier area nearby. His short-lived stint as editor of Mother Jones is examined in detail.