Why a film on Calvin Coolidge?
of the Spirit" is the first
fully researched film ever made on Calvin Coolidge and the political
and economic issues of the 1920's a period of peace, prosperity
and unprecedented national growth. Following his death in 1933,
historians and journalists hijacked Coolidge from serious consideration
by the American people. They continue to hold him hostage to ridicule.
As a result, the public seldom questions the prevailing view that
Coolidge was a do-nothing "capitalist tool" whose presidency
served only as a prelude to disaster. "Things of the Spirit"
invites viewers to give open-minded consideration to the political
beliefs, moral character and spiritual values of perhaps our most
cares about the 1920's?
not always repeat itself, but it usually rhymes. Both the story
edit and preview of "Things of the Spirit" reveal
how the public issues and private concerns of the 1920's resonate
in today's world. Times change, but the human condition and the
American political dilemma remain the same.
will the film be finished?
funds are in place, "Things of the Spirit" will
be finished in a year. Preproduction began in May 1992. The three-hour
story edit was finished in February 1997. Since then, efforts
have been directed solely toward completion fundraising and, as
funding allows, remastering the archival film scenes needed to
illustrate the already finished story edit.
long is the film?
of the Spirit" was conceived
as a 90 minute film. It doubled in length during edit. It did
so in response to the strength and historical significance of
the material gathered by producer John Karol and his crew. By
analogy, Karol's Academy Award nominated "Ben's Mill"
doubled in length from its original plan. Ken Burns's "The
Civil War" grew from five hours to eleven hours during
edit. Audience response at preview screenings of confirms
Karol's decision to yield to his material.
is the cost of "Things of the Spirit"?
of the three-hour film is $2.15 million. Of that, $1.4 million
has already been raised, carrying the film through preproduction,
production and story
edit. In proportion to the film's length, its initial production
budget remains unchanged, adjusted only for inflation. A detailed
finishing budget is available upon request.
have been the major contributors to date?
contributors to date have been the Woodstock Foundation, The John
W. Kluge Foundation, The Dillon Fund, Kevin B. Kimberlin and the
late Paul Mellon. Many other individuals and organizations also
have given generously.
keeps the project going?
producer John Karol has been moving ahead largely through deferred
compensation and personal loans to the project. He needs just
one person willing to match his own contribution or two
people willing to contribute half that much. At this time, a tax-deductible
contribution of $150,000 would fund the remastering of the remaining
archival film scenes and still photographs needed to "lock
picture" a major step toward completion.
much archival film are you using?
motion picture footage will fill over half the film's three-hour
running time. This unforgettable material brings history to life.
Preview audiences are "amazed" by the archival scenes
rescued to date, calling them "stunning" and "priceless."
Much of our completion budget is directed toward restoring, remastering
and incorporating these irreplaceable scenes of Coolidge's life
and time. Unless rescued now from decomposing nitrate film, this
window to the Coolidge era will close forever.
is Vermont Public Television's role?
Television serves as development partner and non-profit fiscal
agent for the completion phase of the project, receiving pledges
and tax-deductible gifts earmarked for the film. As the presenting
station, Vermont Public Television will submit "Things
of the Spirit" to PBS for network broadcast and will
work jointly with the producer in promoting the film to PBS member
was the Coolidge Foundation's role?
Coolidge Memorial Foundation served as arm's length fiscal agent
during initial fundraising and development. The project could
not have succeeded without it. However, the non-profit Foundation's
direct connection with the film's subject was later deemed by
PBS member stations to create a possible perception by viewers
that editorial control might have been exercised by someone other
than the producer. Accordingly, in order to maintain eligibility
for PBS broadcast, Vermont Public Television assumed the role
of fiscal agent for the completion phase of the project.
will "Things of the Spirit" be distributed?
to film and television broadcast, "Things of the Spirit"
will be distributed on Digital Video Disc (DVD) and other
consumer video formats. Once the film is on random access DVD,
its episodic structure will lend itself ideally to educational
use at both high school and college levels. Ultimately, it is
the continuing educational use of "Things of the Spirit"
on interactive DVD and related Web sites which will significantly
change Calvin Coolidge's place in history.
Persistence Plus Productions?
of vision is not only how films are seen it's how they
are made. A recently completed film on baseball player Hank Greenberg
took 13 years to make. "When We Were Kings," the
1996 Academy Award winner, took 22 years to produce. As advance
praise attests, those who see Karol's story edit and preview are
quick to recognize the historical and cinematic significance of
"Things of the Spirit."
can I contact about "Things of the Spirit"?
marvelous thing about Karol's documentary is that it unequivocally
reestablishes the stature Coolidge enjoyed during his lifetime
making clear in a way that no one can dismiss or deny the
reasons for his phenomenal popularity... The best part of this
project is its unquestioned artistry just as a work of
documentary craft and heart... The piece is so even-handed that
I believe it stands a real chance of winning awards even
Emmy awards, or an Oscar for best documentary feature... This
superb film should be made available to every high school in America."
film and television critic, author of books on media