The documentary short “Silly Bastard Next to the Bed” seems stranger than fiction as the story highlights one man’s surprising connection to an outburst by President John F. Kennedy. Not only is the connection unexpected to the audience, but to the subject of the documentary, too.
The inspiration for the film came when director Scott Calonico was working on a different documentary which incorporated public domain recordings of phone calls from U.S. Presidents. While that film ultimately didn’t work out, Calonico posted one particularly angry call from JFK about a young military man on YouTube. The posting received more than 150,000 hits in a day. He knew he had to find out the story behind the call.
Calonico found the subject of JFK’s call, Ernest Carlton, living in Florida. He decided not to tell Carlton the whole story behind the interview so he could capture his honest reaction on camera when he learned of his bizarre connection to JFK.
“I asked him if he’d be up for an interview,” said the director. “But I tricked him a little bit. I interviewed him about his military career and then we worked our way into talking about the little-known phone call.”
Calonico noted that he is a big fan of history and worked with images and audio recordings that were in the public domain in order to keep the budget down. He also employed only himself on the shoot.
“I figured it would be less intimidating if it was just me interviewing him,” said Calonico. “Plus, I was afraid it wouldn’t be the right guy.”
If he should win The ShortList Film Festival competition, the filmmaker said he would use the $5,000 toward his current documentary short: a late night visit to the Lincoln Memorial by President Richard M. Nixon.