AA: She went from being sort of an amusing Cabinet wife to being dismissed and discounted by the Nixon administration, and then ultimately by the press, as someone who was sick and someone who was an alcoholic and a pill popper. She became a joke, unfortunately — until the end, when she did have a brief honeymoon, when people realized that she was telling the truth all along.
Q: People called her delusional, but it turns out she was right. Psychologists even named a phenomenon after her, one you borrowed for your film title. After all that, how do you go about reconstructing her story?
DM: We knew from the get-go that we wanted this to be archive driven. We wanted it to be immersed in that time period, and we wanted it to be through Martha’s voice as much as possible.
So we did research at the Nixon library in Yorba Linda, Calif. That was our primary source of footage, and we had an amazing archivist who helped us out there, Ryan Pettigrew. Both Anne and I went out there on separate trips, pre-pandemic, and really dug through the materials and found a treasure trove.
And then, of course, there’s all the Super 8 footage that H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman had shot, which is really beautiful and amazing to have access to.