Why a film on Calvin Coolidge?
"Things 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
Who cares about the 1920's?
History may 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.
When will the film be
Once completion 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.
How long is the film?
"Things 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.
What is the cost of "Things
of the Spirit"?
The cost 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
Who have been the major
contributors to date?
The major 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.
What keeps the project
More recently, 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.
How much archival film
are you using?
Archival 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.
What is Vermont Public
Vermont Public 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 stations nationwide.
What was the Coolidge
The Calvin 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.
How will "Things
of the Spirit" be distributed?
In addition 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.
Why Persistence Plus Productions?
Persistence 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
Whom can I contact about
"Things of the Spirit"?
"The 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