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.
the assumption of most American history textbooks that Coolidge
was a small-minded materialist who served only as a handmaiden
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.
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.
America's leadership in post World War I European recovery,
and prominence in worldwide economic and cultural development
during the 1920's.
viewers to give open minded consideration to the political beliefs,
moral character and spiritual values of perhaps our most misunderstood
President, Calvin Coolidge.
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.
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.
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
were amazed with the archival scenes rescued to date, calling
them "stunning" and "priceless."
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
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.
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.
tax deductible Pledges
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.