Four days ago, I uploaded Where Are You Going? to YouTube. It’s a documentary I shot when I was 19 years old about a trip I took on the Greyhound Bus from Chicago to San Francisco. In the film I captured the stories of my colorful fellow travelers. I interviewed Rick, a chef from a nudist spa in California, Robert, a 36-year-old bisexual grandfather, KC, a man who was living on a ranch in seclusion house-sitting for free, and Bill, a man who had just gotten out of prison. I wove their stories around mine, a 19-year-old filmmaker on my own journey, trying to figure out my path in life.
I hadn’t planned on putting Where Are You Going? on YouTube until about a year ago. I’ve been toiling over my latest movie, Saving Ferris, for several years now — I’m embarrassed to admit. It’s a documentary about the Chicago locations of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, my favorite film, and I’m glad to say that I’m really happy with it. It’s by far the most professional movie I’ve made. So I decided it would be a good idea to release Where Are You Going? first, to hopefully build a fan base before releasing Saving Ferris.
As I’ve been posting the videos on YouTube the last few days, I’ve been reflecting on my mindset as a carefree 19-year-old, going on one of the most important, coolest adventures of his life. At 19, I thought that one day I might go to Hollywood and be the next Quentin Tarantino — really, I did. I was making a feature length movie at 19 and was going to enter it in film festivals and thought I was going to be discovered. It was a great time in my life. I didn’t feel held down by the need to have a practical job. I had my dreams, I was young, I was doing cool stuff that other people my age weren’t doing, so why not me?
Where Are You Going never got into a film festival for one reason or another, but soon after I finished it, I began working on a new masterpiece. I made a documentary about a restaurant in Florence, Italy, called Trattoria Mario, where I frequented while studying abroad — I entitled it My Home In Florence. In many respects My Home In Florence was a better movie than Where Are You Going?, but it also wasn’t accepted into any film festivals. Then in 2007, I produced my third opus, Jew Complete Me, a reality show about my search to find the Jewish woman of my dreams. The show had a strong following for a while and was watched by people all over the world. As of yesterday, it had over 326,000 views on YouTube. While making it, I admit I still had the long shot dream that the right person would discover it and I would be thrust into the big time, like being paid to do real TV or movies — or something. But despite the show’s popularity that didn’t happen, nor did I find my soul-mate.
Making Saving Ferris, I had a different mindset than when I made the three previous major projects. Today I no longer have the aspiration to break into the commercial film industry. I like being a machinery dealer, and it provides a much easier lifestyle then 90 percent of folks in the film production business have. I’m not saying that many struggling professional filmmakers aren’t happy. They may feel totally fulfilled because they love what they do everyday. I still sometimes ponder what my life would be like if I had chosen that path. Maybe I could have been one of the lucky prosperous ones if I had just tried a little harder. But today, I see filmmaking in my life as a labor of love. It’s something I get to do, not something I have to do to pay the mortgage. I have the privilege of having fun using my creativity, and with the blessing of YouTube and social media I have the chance to exhibit my work to the world. I feel good in this situation, but I’d feel even better if my new videos could catch fire and be seen by thousands of people.
So if you have a few minutes, please check out Where Are You Going? (first episode also posted below). The first two out of 13 episodes are on YouTube, and the rest will follow in the next few weeks. I have also put a trailer up.
It’s a work I’m proud of, and I think many of you will enjoy it.
Question: When you were 19, what did you think you would do in the future?
Where Are You Going Trailer
Where Are You Going? (My Greyhound Bus Story) Episode 1