With our new money in hand, I set up our travel and trip to Washington, DC to interview people, conduct street interviews and start to get some answers. I knew I had wanted to get to DC for quite some time. There are a couple of reasons why I believed DC was essential to our overall story. One, most national organizations like Meals on Wheels and Feeding America are headquartered in the area and, two, federal organizations like the USDA and the AoA (Administration on Aging) are located here. I had hoped to interview as many organizations as I could while in town and had been working with the USDA and AoA for more than three months at this point to set up interviews. I answered whatever questions they had, jumped through hoops and tried working with them as best as I could to get someone on camera to talk about this. After all, a group like the AoA is working at the highest level in this country to help seniors. I don’t see why they won’t want to be a part of this project. So, I loaded up the gear and boarded my cross-continental flight from LA to DC and met my videographer there.
I landed in DC and took a taxi to my hotel, which was located in the heart of DC. Once I checked into my hotel I went straight up to my room, took out my computer and decided to check my email to make certain nothing changed with my interviews and schedules. 15 minutes into checking my email I received a message from my contact at the AoA telling me they would not be able to meet with me!
I was floored, angry, disappointed and completely shocked.
Why would an organization working at the highest level for our seniors decline to go on camera? What are they hiding from? They new I am not making a “Michael Moore” type film (you would not believe how many people asked if that was my style when setting up interviews) and was trying to find answers. What makes me angrier is that our current Obama Administration wanted to be known as the most open and transparent administration to date. This didn’t seem very open or transparent to me! Again, what are you hiding from? What could make you NOT want to let America know about the problems facing seniors and how you are working to help or alleviate those matters? I knew the USDA wouldn’t go on camera with us and Feeding America never returned any of our calls – those two were not on my list already. I went to DC knowing I was going to interview Meals on Wheels, the National Council on Aging and the AoA but now one of the key components of my story decided not to go on camera. That makes me mad, check that, really pissed off!
After about 20 minutes of fuming I started to calm down and remembered that this story is about the seniors and this is another one of those “Crossroads” you encounter while working on a project like this. I decided to make lemonade out of lemons and would use that opportunity to explore more of DC, get as much B-Roll as possible and spend more time on my interviews with the NCOA and Meals on Wheels. And, I am glad I decided to move forward once faced with the fork in the road because of the douche bag move from the AoA (OK, maybe I still not over it). Because of their cancellation I was able to spend more time walking and wandering DC and was able to make more phone calls and set up additional interviews. Because of this additional free time I was able to secure an interview with the AARP Foundation and their president, Jo Ann Jenkins as well as walk around DC looking at and shooting many of the monuments.
In fact, while walking through the FDR Memorial I stumbled upon the great quote (seen below) that has become the driving thought/quote/idea behind this documentary. So, I think it’s important to take the lemons life gives you and try to make lemonade. There’s something to be said about perseverance, optimism and fortitude.