Patti Davis and Primary Wave Entertainment are producing a documentary centered around Super 8 film footage shot primarily by Ronald Reagan from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.
Zak Knutson, best known for Film 4’s “Milius,” is directing. The private footage is in pristine condition and offers a never-before-seen look at Reagan’s family on vacations, ranch visits, backyard plays, birthday parties, visits to the beach and pool time that dominated the family’s Southern-California outdoor lifestyle.
Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild between 1947 and 1952 and again in 1959-60, and was hired by General Electric in 1954 to host the weekly TV drama series “General Electric Theater.” He made his foray into politics in 1966 when he won the California governorship over incumbent Democrat Edmund G. Brown and was re-elected in 1970.
Davis brands the period covered by the footage as “before the world moved in” when the Reagans lived in the suburban enclave of Pacific Palisades on Amalfi Drive and later San Onofre Drive. The footage includes Reagan’s wife Nancy and children Patti and Ron in private moments, as well as performing for the cameras in G.E.’s multitude of promotional vignettes for the “electric house” that G.E. built for the Reagans.
Davis is producing with Primary Wave’s Ben Press, Patrick Hughes and Bryan O’Connell. The producers plan to begin sales at the Toronto International Film Festival.
“This is an honest, loving and truly behind-the-scenes invitation into the Reagans’ lifestyle in a simpler time prior to their being cloistered by Secret Service and White House gates,” the producers said.
Knutson is represented by Primary Wave.
A separate Reagan movie was announced last month with Will Ferrell starring, but the actor left the project two days later after a public outcry, including from Davis and other Reagan family members, over the project’s intent to portray Reagan in his later years in a comic light as he battled dementia.