5 Questions with Mick Caouette

Smiling Man in his 60s - Director Mick Caouette

We’re thrilled to be hosting another screening – and Q&A with the filmmaker!

On Monday (January 27th), we’ll have Mick Caouette (of South Hill films) here at our Lewis Davis Pavilion with, “Summoned: Frances Perkins and the General Welfare“, a new documentary which explores how Frances Perkins, against overwhelming odds, became the driving force behind Social Security, the 40-hour work week, the eight-hour day, minimum wage and unemployment compensation.

Mr. Caouette will take questions after the screening.

Smiling Man in his 60s - Director Mick Caouette

We asked Mick our 5 Questions:

Waterside:              How would you describe the film?

Mick:                      It’s basically a biography of Frances Perkins from the time she was born, her parents, where she came from in Massachusetts and Maine.  And then it follows her through the passing of the social security act.

Waterside:              The film addresses the social safety net. Why is this so important?

Mick:                      Well, at the time – and this is one of things I tried to point out in the film – I opened the film with scenes of what it was like before the social safety net… And people are dying in the streets.  They were starving. Old people were being put in homes and it was just an awful situation. And what she did was help. People that were injured at work would just be fired and no compensation, no help, employers weren’t responsible for anything. Unemployment compensation is an old idea, but she turned it into a law, her and Roosevelt.  That helped people through that time. There might not have been enough to live on, but it was certainly more than they had had. It had been a lot worse. So, that’s one example, but there’s all kinds of examples.

Waterside:              What was something important you learned that you didn’t know when you began making the film?

Mick:                      I guess the depth of what was going on during the Depression.  I knew about it, but I didn’t realize how bad things really were.

Waterside:              Why do you think people need to learn about Frances Perkins?

Mick:                      One of the reasons that I did this in the first place was because I see a lot of people taking all of the advantages of the social safety net, for granted.  I don’t think anyone understands where they came from and why.  And so, I thought that it’d be a good idea to show people with the film how bad things were and why these things developed and how.   And of course, Frances Perkins was right in the middle of it, so it worked well with both. To use her life to explain it.

Frances Perkins and Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Waterside:              You have some key political figures in your film.  Can you tell us about that?

Mick:                     When we interviewed them, it was three years ago.  I had no idea that Amy Klobuchar and Nancy Pelosi would be where they are now. Nancy Pelosi was not even the Speaker when we interviewed her. And Amy, she’s our Senator here in Minnesota so I knew her, but she wasn’t running for president.  It’s just timing, we got lucky.

Waterside:              Thank you, Mick! We look forward to seeing you here next Monday!

And we look forward to seeing you here too!

Register on Eventbrite for this free event. (Open to the public.)

Poster: "Summoned: Frances Perkins and the General Welfare" with Francis Perkins at desk in a government room