Everyone knows Richard Nixon was a prodigious recorder. It got him into some hot water during the Watergate scandal, and it turns out the FBI confiscated a lot more than just nefarious stuff that ultimately lead to his downfall. The National Archives has been holding onto more than 204 rolls of Super 8 home movies filmed over three years by some of Nixon’s most trusted advisors: Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, Chief Domestic Advisor John Ehrlichman, Special Assistant to the President Dwight Chapin and Deputy Assistant Larry Higby.
It’s over 3,700 hours of never-before-seen material — official White House events, visiting dignitaries, campaign stops, the historic trip to China, and even innocuous things like birds and beach time with Henry Kissinger.
The home movies record every aspect of their experience of the Nixon White House, from the prosaic to the profound. These four men carefully documented their time with Nixon because they believed that Nixon would transform America. And in a way, they were right.
Filmmakers Brian L. Frye and Penny Lane have acquired that footage from the National Archives, had the first-ever digital copies made, and are now making a documentary film called “Our Nixon.” And naturally they’re funding the project through Kickstarter; they needed $10,000 to get if off the ground and they’ve already raised it (well before the May 6th goal, too).
There probably won’t be any dancing on tabletops, but maybe it’ll unearth the human side to that very cold, calculating White House administration. I’m excited to see how it turns out.