Tuesday, June 15, 2010

1-Year Anniversary of Vice-Precedence Blog

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog Readers!

Last night Jason informed me that its the one-year anniversary of the start of the blog for Vice-Precedence. I knew it must be around the time we had started it since I had been laid off on June 4 2009, and we started it a week later. So what have we done this year?

Well, in looking over our posts I'd have to say, we have done a hell of a job informing the public about the Vice-Presidency, whats going on with Dick Cheney and our current VP Joe Biden, and the men who have held this office in our nations history. Not to mention the fact that we were one of the first websites to break the stories of Sarah Palins resignation and the Gores divorce.

I hope that this doesn't come off as arrogant, but I am truly proud of the writing both Jason and myself have done here on the blog. People tell me that when they read it they always learn something and are entertained by it. I just wish more people would read it and that that stupid Japanese psuedo-porn site would stop trying to post their messages as responses to our posts. It drives me crazy.

At the same time, while I am proud of the blog and am truly grateful to you readers when you tell me how much you liked it, I can't help but feel frustrated about some things. Not here on the blog, but with Vice-Precedence as a production altogether. Something I haven't talked about here on the blog is that we wanted to shoot at the Vice-Presidential Museum in Indiana run by the Dan Quayle Foundation. I joined the Museum simply because I wanted to be a member. I had visited the website and admired what the museum did to preserve the memory and history of the Vice-Presidents and to educate children. After I joined I contacted the Museum director and talked with him about shooting at the museum. We discussed the film and our goals with Vice-Precedence. He had watched our trailer and other videos and understood what we were doing and found them entertaining and historically accurate. He told me to make a formal request to the Museums board of directors and he felt sure we would get permission to shoot at the museum. So I wrote a formal letter:

To President Darlene Stanley, The Quayle Commemorative Foundation, and
Whom It May Concern at the United States Vice Presidential Museum:

My name is Matt Saxe and I am a Sustaining Member of the Museum and a
professional filmmaker. Currently my company, Banded Artists
Productions, is working on a film entitled "Vice-Precedence," a comedic
documentary on the history of the Vice-Presidents who never served as
President, and the unique history of the office. We would very much
like to shoot in and use the resources of the Museum for our film.
After speaking with Director Johns, he told me that we needed to write
you for permission and explain what we want to do. That is the purpose
of this letter.

Our goal with this film is to both educate and entertain people with
the amazing history of the vice-presidency and tell the sometimes
funny, sometimes tragic, and sometimes bizarre stories of the forgotten
men who have held our nation's second highest office. We want to be
both completely historically accurate, and at the same time, give the
audience an incredibly entertaining experience. Studies have shown that
people retain information better when it is presented to them in a
comedic and entertaining way. We have accomplished this goal with other
films and we know we can accomplish it with this one.

Specifically in the museum, we are interested in highlighting unique
artifacts and displays that are there and on the Vice-Presidents from
Indiana. The museum shows that there are people in this country that
truly respect the office of the vice-presidency and believe it is
important that Americans learn about the office. We hope that by
filming at the museum and featuring it in our film, we can attract more
people to visit the museum and learn of all the great work it is doing.
While our film will emphasize the humorous stories and quotes about the
Vice-Presidency, we do not intend to mock the office or people who are
interested in it in any way. As I have said to Director Johns, we do
not want to have people laugh at the Museum or the people who work
there, we want them to laugh with us and be interested in the Museum
and the history of the office of the Vice-Presidency.

We are happy to schedule our shoot at the Museum to fit whatever is
best for the museum. The shoot would probably be 2 to 4 days at the
most. Our film does not have a large crew, probably 3 to 4 people or
so. So there would not be a big crew in the museum. We're also
interested in doing on-camera interviews with Director Johns and other
experts who work at the museum for possible inclusion in the film.
Perhaps even interviewing guests of the Museum as well.

We have already interviewed Professor Steven Tally of Purdue
University, the author of "Bland Ambition," and the legendary Gore
Vidal for our film. Mr. Vidal said we were "better interviewers than
Ken Burns". We interviewed Mr. Vidal in his home and it went perfectly,
so I can assure you, President Stanley and the Museum that we would
show the same respect towards the Museum. As a member of the Museum I
promise you the highest level of professionalism in regards to our film
and our crew. We believe shooting in the museum is one of the keys to
making this a truly great documentary. This is the first ever
documentary made about the Vice-Presidency, and we very much want the
museum to be a part of it.

Thank you and Best to you,

Matt Saxe
Sustaining Member United States Vice-Presidential Museum
Member-Minnesota Historical Society
Screen Actors Guild.

So we sent the letter in mid October of 2009, and waited. And waited. Months went by. I was assured by the director that our letter had been received and had been discussed at the Boards meeting. But we were told no decision either way.

Finally on April 5th 2010 I received the following letter.

Dear Mr. Saxe:

I want to apologize for the delay in response to your request. This has been a difficult and busy year. I should have been more prompt to reply.

Your request was presented to and discussed by the board of directors for the Center. In the end the decision was made that, although they appreciate that your project is intended to educate adults about the vice-presidency and appreciate your focus on historical accuracy, they do not believe it matches our mission of educational programming for young school children. Therefore, the board has declined your request to utilize the Center and staff for your production.

I wish your good luck on your project. As an apology for your troubles, I will be issuing a refund for your membership of $100.00. The check will be issued during the month of April.

Daniel Johns
Executive Director.
The Quayle Vice-Presidential Learning Center.

Can you believe that? Not only did they deny our request to shoot at the Museum, but they don't even want my tax-deductible donation for my membership! Wow! Sure enough within a week I had another envelope from the Museum with a check for $100 in it.

This sort of thing is what is making this production a story in and of itself. Does any other documentary ever have issues like this? Michael Moore and Sacha Baron Cohen have made it almost impossible to get interviews for a documentary. Everyone is afraid they are going be made to look like fools. I bet that in the case of the Vice-Presidential Museum this is especially a worry. Still, this has to be one of the weirdest things we've experienced in our trek to make this film.

In the end, we can only make another request and hope they will let us shoot at the museum. We have always planned on making the film appropriate for a wide audience. So that families can watch it together and learn from it. Like my father and I did when we watched Ken Burns CIVIL WAR. We also plan on making a childrens book to go with the film. Maybe these things will help to change the boards mind.

Still, the museum isn't the only one to deny us an interview. Walter Mondale, Al Gore, Sarah Vowell, all have (thru their agents or staff) denied our requests for interviews. We still haven't heard from Sarah Palins people who I contacted the day after meeting her at her book signing back in November of 2009. Even with all these refusals and obstacles, Jason and I stand firm in making Vice-Precedence the film and completing our other projects that are associated with it. Your can help us accomplish our dream.

Tell your friends and family about our production. Join our Facebook page and post comments on it about blogs, links, and pictures we put up. Anything you can do that you think will be helpful to us, we would be grateful for. You can see on the blog that people love and are interested in this production. Whenever I feel a little depressed about how things are going, I read the endorsement given to us by Paul Zaloom (Beakman of the legendary kids science show BEAKMANS WORLD, and nationally recognized political theatre performer) that Jason received and posted here on the blog:

"The trailer for "Vice-Precedence" knocked my socks off. The film deftly mixes the genuine history of the VPs, much of it astounding and weird as hell, with witty commentary, the best combination for a film on a serious and absurd and seriously absurd subject. I laughed out loud a bunch of times; that doesn't happen often enough in documentaries. I cannot wait to see the finished project."

That always makes me feel good.

I just want to finish this blog by saying "Thank You".

Thank You to Mr. Zaloom for this amazing endorsement and to the legendary Gore Vidal for actually letting us come to his home and interview him for our film and for his incredible endorsement and continued support.

Thank you to YOU-all our Family and Friends and Fans (Likers?) on Facebook and who have and continue to support our production.

Thank you to my production partner and friend Jason Klamm for all his hard work on the blog, Facebook page, and website.

Some great stuff is coming folks, and I think you'll be just as excited as we are about it. Thank You Vice-Precedence Supporters!

Matt Saxe

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