It's Raining Documentaries at the Vonnegut House

Three years ago, a bunch of friends bought a rotting house already stripped of some of it's flooring and copper wiring and piping, to save it from demolition. It had resident raccoons and parts of it were sinking into the ground.  They made it a home again not expecting much, but somehow, in addition to other successes,  three years later it's going to be, or already is in, 3 separate documentaries. One is out and two more are coming soon,  all three likely coming out within a years time of each other. I almost can't believe what I am writing. And yes, I am talking about our house, the V House, ol' 814 East Shore Drive in Culver.


One of the Documentaries is national in scope and distribution ambition, Unstuck in Time by Robert Weide, to come out next year, 2016 as a major documentary release after it's big Kickstarter Splash that made National News . The project was discussed in about every national newspaper and magazine from the Wall Street Journal to Newsweek.  


When this came out, the House heard about it from two family members of different interested parties. They told us some guy is making a splash with a Vonnegut documentary, and we decided to send them a donation, thinking why not, it's good for the brain and it could be good for business. Weide is known for Producing the HBO cult comedy hit Curb your Enthusiasm with Larry David, the man who inspired the character George Kastanza on the hit TV show Seinfeld and it's co Writer with Jerry Seinfeld. One of us decided to reach out to Weide saying hey, we restored this house, thought you might like to know, about a year ago. He got back to us within minutes showing footage of our house from 1994 and sending us the Tralfamadore clip we featured in our earlier post which warmed so many hearts. Unstuck in Time expected out next year, 2016, but one funny hickup is that the Kickstarter Campaign was so successful since it made national news, that they are swamped with sending out the rewards, he admitted to us. We were part off the problem. They promised so many cool books at different price levels we actually greedily gave a few different gifts to fill up the bookshelves!

In some of the footage just for the kickstarter campaign you can see the old door knocker that says Vonnegut on it we removed from 814 and put on a shelf to bring the house back to an older time before Ralph, the homes last real owner before us, Kurt's Cousin, put it on there in the 80's.

The next Documentary is regional, A Writers Roots: Kurt Vonnegut's Indianapolis by Kevin Finch to be released on our Indianapolis Public Television Channel 20 WFYI on December 28, 2015, when Hoosiers like a little mental stimulation after all the sugar of Christmas time.


It looks like a thoughtful examination of the Hoosier in Kurt, and how it affected his literary voice.  The trailer alone shows Morley Safer of 60 Minutes fame so they did a good job interviewing the right people you can tell. Kevin and a cameraman came by the house this fall, in fact, we had it on our schedule so we wouldn't rent it:

check out July 21st.  Kevin and a cameraman came by and filmed in and around the house hosted by Matt our Foreman and Lindsey our Property Manager, and they filmed for 2 hours on Vonnegut's Adriatic.

Now the last documentary may not be big time, all fancy pancy guys in suits sharin' their big opinions, but it's by someone near and dear to the house, so much so that it might not have happened without him, since he took risks big and small to be a part of the V house in ways better left unsaid, and contributed time and effort and even his brother for a while, but Ol' Rick Mehl CMA '95 had been working on a podcast for years with two of his hometown buddies from SE Chicago, one of whom is Sci Fi Writer Ryan Sean O'Reiley, and their mutual buddy 'Wilk' Wilkinson, No Deodorant in Outer Space. The podcast as the name implies is a supposed to be a fun critique of sci fi movies (you can't smell in outer space, so why would you need deodorant.. get it?) and focuses on book and movie combos.. trying to review and find the differences between every sci fi book that became a movie of vice versa.. it's niche, but someone had to do it.

So sometime last year they did Slaughter House 5, which many consider Sci Fi, almost in part because of Vonnegut's creation of his alter Ego Kilgore Trout, even though many think of him as a parodist and philosopher, but the play on time and physics (if it's not a mental reaction to trauma mind you) in Vonnegut's most popular movie/book does make is Sci Fi, so the guys not only reviewed the book, but they decided to try their hand at a Documentary the same weekend they came down to the house from Chicago to do their podcast in the V House this past fall of 2015.

I sent out the trailer so people would get teased, but the whole more than hour long well produced conversation is available right here, the first of the three off the press:

The writer of this particular post has been learning about the history of the home and area for 25 or more years now, but the conversation between these three gentlemen still fleshed out new ideas and concepts for him, and I highly recommend you catch this work when you get a chance. It's easily as informative as the previous two works, impressive given that it's the first ever work of this sort by these guys, with some fun b role and video production skills displayed as well by their friend Doyle. We appreciate Jeff Kinney lending his time and insight as well. and yes, that's not some fancy studio (although I could've been fooled!), that's our living room!

Three great documentaries, one great house.. almost mind boggling! One plays on home town pride and midwest sensibility, another on the deep ideas of almost paternal guidance and paternal validation that Kurt Vonnegut gave to non conventional thinkers and the Boomer Generation, and the third gives insight into a simple lake and place, Lake Maxincuckee and Culver that not only influenced Vonnegut but many other national figures and it's stories, from Indian lore to modern history, and all were filmed in part or in whole at 814 East Shore Drive, The Clemens Vonnegut Jr. House.. Enjoy some fine winter watching!

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