The historical documentary “Our Nixon” is Penny Lane’s debut feature film. Having made short films for a long time using appropriated materials, she forays into new territory with the help of her co-producer Brian L. Frye. Penny credits him for developing the original concept. With some convincing, they were able to bring it to fruition.
What it’s about: “‘Our Nixon’ is a found footage doc featuring Super 8 home movies filmed by Dick Nixonʼs closest aides – and fellow Watergate conspirators.”
What makes the film different: “Everything in the film is archival – in other words, we didn’t shoot anything or add voice-overs or record any of the interviews. We relied entirely on the historical record to tell this story.”
On films that inspired her: “For All Mankind”, “Senna”, “The Black Power Mixtape”, “Point of Order” and “The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu.”
What she hopes audiences will take away: “I hope that regardless of where you stand on Richard Nixon and his legacy (even if you have no stance at all), you will find yourself entertained, provoked and newly curious about this bit of history – and more broadly, how history gets written in the first place.”
On her biggest challenges: “Figuring out how to tell a coherent story using only “other people’s footage” and incorporating so many different points of view. We had to work really hard to create an intellectual film that is also accessible to a general audience. If we hadn’t found our unbelievably talented editor Francisco Bello, I honestly don’t know if we would have succeeded.”
On what’s next: “Another weird historical documentary using lots of archival material. This one’s got a bunch of animated reenactments in it. It’s about an eccentric con man who built an empire with a million watt radio station and an impotence cure involving goat testicle transplantation. I spent about three years just doing the archival research, and now I’m finally in production.”
Indiewire invited SXSW Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.