When filmmaker Nicholas Wrathall contacted me, he had three versions of his film on Gore Vidal. After a two-day consultation and a few follow-up sessions to see the consolidated cuts, Wrathall, his editor and the rest of his team managed to bring one of his cuts to such a high level that it went on to have its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia
Producer/Director: Nicholas Wrathall
Length: 89 min.
URL: http://gorevidaldocumentary.com

Film Vitals

Anchored by intimate, one-on-one interviews with the man himself, Gore Vidal: United States of Amnesia is a fascinating and wholly entertaining tribute to the iconic Gore Vidal. Commentary by those who knew Vidal best — including filmmaker/nephew Burr Steers and the late Christopher Hitchens — blends with footage from Vidal’s legendary on-air career to remind us why he stands as one of the most brilliant and fearless critics of our time.

Select Festivals, Screenings & Awards:

  • Tribeca Film Festival 2013 (Premiere)
  • Outfest in Los Angeles
  • Melbourne International Film Festival
  • Traverse City Film Festival

Shooting Locations:

  • New York
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Los Angeles
  • Italy

Production Timeline:

  • 7 years total.
  • 5 years shooting on and off, including downtime of 1 1/2 years.
  • 1 year editing, 2 months of post-production.

Money Talk:

  • The film was self-funded and privately funded. “One was a production company, another a hedge fund, and the third was me.”

The Filmmaker

Film School:
Sydney University, Fine Arts, North Sydney Film and Television School (2 years).

Other Studies:
Film Independent’s Documentary Lab

For a Living:
Producer of music videos and commercials for 10 years.

Survival Strategy:
Between shoots for the film, Wrathall worked as a freelance producer of commercials.

Previous Films:

  • Abandoned: The Betrayal of America’s Immigrants (2000, 60 min.)
  • The Gulag Lives On (2003, 15 min., APTN, director/cameraman), an investigative report into human rights abuses of North Korean workers in the Russian Far East.
  • Endless Caravan (30 min., director/cameraman), an immigration documentary filmed in Belgium, France and Morocco.
  • Bittersweet (1999, 30 min., producer/director), a fiction short film, film on 35mm in Australia. Best Short Film, Hope and Dreams Film Festival, New Jersey.
  • Haitian Eksperyans (1997 – director), a travel documentary for the Ministry of Tourism in Haiti.

Nicholas’ Smart Move

Nicholas Wrathall thinks his smartest move was not to give up in times of adversity and, surprisingly, “Spending my own money to keep the film going.” Most filmmakers would regret that. He does not.

Never Again

“Spending my own money to keep the film going.” For Wrathall, it was the right thing to do in that moment, but it wasn’t a business model.

Memorable Moments

Seeing Vidal’s friends and family react to the film at the premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. “They loved the film and were very moved. If only he had seen it, too…”

Will He Relapse and Make Another Film?

“I am superstitious about talking about my film ideas until they are fully formed.” (He’s researching and writing now.)

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Published by

Fernanda Rossi
Fernanda Rossi collaborates with filmmakers in all areas of storytelling, from development to fine cut. As an author, international speaker and story analyst she has doctored over 300 documentaries, fiction scripts and fundraising samples, including two nominated for an Academy Award®. Author of Trailer Mechanics: How to Make Your Documentary Fundraising Demo. More info at www.documentarydoctor.com. Follow Fernanda at facebook.com/storydoctoring.