08/25/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT
>The American Dream
TAKING IT ON THE ROAD
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T COMPARE Shainee Gabel and Kristin Hahn to Thelma and Louise, the 1991 female film duo who cut a swath of mayhem across the Southwest, "We hear it all the time," moans Hahn. "We took a car and hit the road, but that's about all we have in common." Indeed, rather than raise a ruckus wherever they turned, filmmakers Gabel and Hahn, both 28, tried to define the American dream—and lived one in the process. In 1995, both quit Hollywood production jobs, maxed out their credit cards and borrowed from pals to make Anthem, a critically praised documentary (and tome from Avon Books) in which the likes of Robert Redford, George McGovern, Studs Terkel and a host of common folk weigh in on what makes the nation tick. "Basically," says Gabel, "we wondered if there's anything that really connects us as Americans."
Logging 33,000 miles over two years in borrowed cars, the two slept in budget motels, mooched meals and did their own camera and production work at a cost of $300,000 and six speeding tickets. Among the highlights of Anthem, which will play in major cities in the next few months, is a visit with a surprisingly camera-shy Hunter S. Thompson, who learns during filming that the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia has just died. Both Gabel, a Philadelphia native, and the Omaha-born Hahn were raised by single mothers who, Hahn says, "instilled in us a sense of courage and tenacity" that helped them see Anthem to completion. Among the film's fans is actress Jennifer Aniston
, a former Hollywood roomie of Hahn's who would have joined her friends "in a heartbeat," she says. "I love road trips."