Persistence Plus Productions is nearing completion of a three-hour biographical film on Calvin Coolidge, and the issues facing the nation during the 1920's -- a period of peace, prosperity and unprecedented national growth. As its title suggests, "Things of the Spirit" takes a deeper than usual look at the personal and political life of our thirtieth President. We already have completed the research, preproduction, production and story edit. Among other things, "Things of the Spirit":

  • Is the first fully researched film that has ever been made on Calvin Coolidge and the political and economic issues of the 1920's.

  • Dispels the assumption of most American history textbooks that Coolidge was a small-minded materialist who served only as a handmaiden to business.

  • Establishes clearly and finally that the Coolidge-Mellon tax cuts of the 1920's generated increased revenue to the federal government; that Coolidge ran surpluses in all his annual budgets; and that by the time he left office he had cut the national debt by one-third.

  • Challenges the popular opinion of historians that the Coolidge Prosperity led inevitably to the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression of the 1930's.

  • Illustrates America's leadership in post World War I European recovery, and prominence in worldwide economic and cultural development during the 1920's.

  • Inspires viewers to give open minded consideration to the political beliefs, moral character and spiritual values of perhaps our most misunderstood President, Calvin Coolidge.

"Things of the Spirit" will attract considerable attention when it is released to screen, broadcast and video distribution. That view was confirmed at an early showing of work in progress during a Coolidge Symposium at the Library of Congress in Washington. More recently, a preview of edited episodes was screened for a seminar at the John F. Kennedy Library. Our host in Boston reported that audiences "were amazed to find that Calvin Coolidge is complex, interesting and relevant." Preview screenings continue with test audiences.

Vermont Public Television serves as development partner and non-profit fiscal agent for the completion phase of the project. 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 stations nationwide. We also are reviewing the story edit transcript and earlier two-volume treatment for print and educational tie-ins to the film.

During research and production we discovered a wealth of archival film material to illustrate and, at times, tell our stories. Archival images will fill over half the film's three hour running time. Because no fully researched film has ever been made on Presidents Harding or Coolidge, most of these archival scenes remain on decomposing nitrate film. Much of our completion budget is directed toward rescuing and incorporating this irreplaceable visual evidence of Coolidge's life and times while it still exists. Audience members at a major Preview Screening were amazed with the archival scenes rescued to date, calling them "stunning" and "priceless."

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" affords a rare opportunity to change the historical perception of an American President. No one who sees it will ever think the same way about Calvin Coolidge again.

Our present challenge is to finish fundraising as quickly as possible and return to the crafts of completion. We are continuing our preview screenings and fundraising presentations to individuals, foundations and corporations. Once completion funds are in place, "Things of the Spirit" will be finished in a year. In the meantime, the acqusition, restoration and remastering of archival film elements continues as quickly as funding allows.

Persistence Plus Productions is a special project of Apertura, dedicated to producing the definitive film on Calvin Coolidge. Apertura, the parent firm, was established by me in 1969. It maintains complete production and editing facilities in Orford, New Hampshire. In 1982 I received an Academy Award nomination for best feature length documentary film. The associate producer and assistant editor of "Things of the Spirit" is Vanessa Wolff, formerly with Lucasfilm. Vanessa also served as location sound recordist during the production phase of the project, affording valuable continuity. Carren Kaston, Ph.D. conducted archival photo research in Washington, D.C.

We welcome tax deductible Pledges & Gifts to the project, payable to Vermont Public Television, 204 Ethan Allen Avenue, Colchester, Vermont 05446 (Attn: Andrea D. Bergeron, Vice President Finance & Administration). We are happy to arrange preview screenings for individuals, groups and organizations interested in contributing. It would be a pleasure to hear from you as we work to bring "Things of the Spirit" to viewers nationwide.


John Karol, Producer
Persistence Plus Productions
Main Street
Orford, New Hampshire 03777

Tel: . (603) 353-9067
Fax: (603) 353-4646