THE BLOG
09/29/2006 10:36 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Filming Mr. Conservative : Interviews on the Hill

Since our airdate, I have had so many interviews and so many questions thrown at me that my head is spinning. The question most often asked has been: What would your grandfather have felt about the current political climate? It's hard to speak for him, but I think he would be a little sick about the invasive government we have today. Our government is in our lives, peeking into our purses, telling us what to do with our bodies, and just sticking its nose where it should not be. My grandfather was about the preservation of our own free liberties, and they are being threatened every day.

I hope the documentary makes it clear that the Republican Party has changed from what it used to be in my grandfather's day. Barry's opinion would be loud and earth shattering if he were alive today. I especially think he would have been appalled by a situation we encountered while filming "Mr. Conservative, Goldwater on Goldwater." Shooting a film about Barry Goldwater in Washington, DC was not a walk in the park.

Our team, which consisted of director Julie Anderson, producing partner Tani Cohen, the film crew, and myself, were set for a day of interviews in the Senate Russell Building. We had shot in various hearing rooms in the building that had been prearranged by the Senator media teams. Our last was in the Indian Affairs hearing room for our interviews with Senators McCain and Clinton. We had to wait four hours after our interview with Senator McCain for our scheduled interview with Senator Clinton. Three minutes into our last interview with Senator Clinton two gentlemen barged into the room screaming, "Is this HBO? Is this HBO?? You are not allowed to shoot in the building!" The men, one a member of the Ethics & Rules Committee and the other a member of the Senate Legal Counsel, informed us that we were in violation of one of the rules by filming these interviews inside the Senate building. While I went into the hallway to talk to these men, Senator Clinton did not miss a beat; she continued with the interview. In the hallway I explained to the gentlemen that I was there to interview these Republican and Democratic senators for a documentary I was doing on my grandfather, Barry Goldwater, who had served his country as a 5 term (Republican) Senator...in this very building, no less. They weren't budging. They showed me a letter addressed to HBO and "K Street" which said that we were a "commercial" film, and therefore we were in violation... so any interview we did use would cause the Senators to be brought before the Ethics & Rules subcommittee. In the end, the interviews we had completed with Senators McCain, Warner, Kennedy, and now Clinton were now unusable.

Documentary filmmakers have a slim budget, and this set us back financially. Although we lobbied the committee over and over again, they would not budge. The funny side of this story, if you can imagine, is the visual of the Senators being brought up in front of the Committee; Chairman Trent Lott (whose office coincidently was across the hall from the Indian Affairs hearing room) and others would ask Senators Clinton, McCain, Kennedy, and Warner why they were part of this film. "Well we just wanted to participate in a documentary about Senator Barry Goldwater, a five term Senator... we did not realize this would be a bad thing." I found this to be scary yet amusing. The various Senators we interviewed tried to intervene, but there was only so far they could stick their necks out. They pick their battles carefully, and I respect that. They all did their best but to no avail...we still ended up going back to DC two months later to interview Senators Warner, McCain and Clinton (thankfully they were able to fit us into their very busy schedules, even if it meant just 7 minutes with Senator Clinton) one more time in a safe zone. For scheduling reasons we did not re-interview Senator Kennedy.

Later while editing the film, we realized there was an important comment from Senator Kennedy's previous interview, so we went to Senator's Lott's office in a last-ditch effort to allow us to use some of Senator Kennedy's interview. Because we had been honorable, we were granted just 60 seconds... no more. This is a situation that would have infuriated Barry tremendously. The Senate Russell Building belongs to the people. It is a building that for years news crews and filmmakers have been able to roam at will and do interviews. Because we were there doing what they determined was a "commercial" documentary - about a man who served the Senate for 30 years- we were in deep water. It was a bit of a setback, but we did not let it stand in the way of making this film. Although it was a bit more than we wanted to deal with, both emotionally and financially, in the end, it all turned out fine.

In many ways Washington, D.C. is a different place from when my grandfather was there. With new security impositions it just feels different all the way around. I remember when my grandfather and I would walk the halls, and it was like everyone was happy and said hi. It was a cordial environment. Now it's 20 year-olds walking with blackberries, making people think they are at their desks. Times have changed, but one thing is for sure -- Memories can't be erased...Barry Goldwater will always be remembered in the Russell Building, despite the fact we don't always play by the rules.