Doing it anyway, any way.
Updated: Oct 27, 2019
The idea for this entire project came from my fascination with watching people in public places, often at restaurants or cafes. I would love to watch people eat and socialize; it's this really interesting cross-section of people doing something both very animalistic (feeding themselves) and something very human and complex (socially interacting). I of course found the content of their conversation really interesting (if I could hear it), but I also just wanted to observe how these people spoke, how they fed themselves, the facial expressions they made, the gestures they would make, their eye contact, how they held objects, all the tiny things that make that person both a human, and that specific human. I wanted to observe people they way one might observe animals in a nature documentary; closely, intently, and with as little intrusion as possible. Of course, you can only watch someone in public so long before it becomes really creepy. So I got the idea to film people in the style you might film animals in a nature documentary. I would use a telephoto lens to get really close, and hold on the little details of a person. And why not for a full day? That seemed to be just enough to get an idea of who a person is, and what their life is like. And, filming for a whole day would be more revealing, showing where a person lives, eats, sleeps, the people they interact with and the things they own. Just one day, from the moment the person wakes, until the moment they fall asleep, I would film (almost) everything that happens in that person's life. And why just one person? Why not film many people, from all around the world? The idea of observing humans as humans would be extended to all different walks of life, from all around the world. Through filming many people from all around the world in this way, "A Day in the Life" would look at people through two lenses; as human beings, and as creatures of culture. I looked around for something like this, but only found films that were tangential to this idea.
This idea was born many years ago, and is just taking its first steps now. I beat myself up a lot for bot starting this earlier, but I have learned that sometimes. it takes years for an idea to really formulate, and for the timing to make sense. So early in 2019, I reached out to some friends to see if anybody knew anyone that would be willing to be filmed for an entire day. Bua, a friend who lives in Bangkok, Thailand, got back to me and let me know that there is someone in the rural Mae Sot district of Thailand that would be willing to participate. I then reached out some videographers I knew; Melvin Wong, a friend who I worked with in San Francisco, agreed to come along for the ride to Thailand, to help film. Something came up for Bua during the week of filming, and so Bua got in touch with Pang, who agreed to take over for Bua, to assist with logistics of filming on the ground, in Mae Sot. Fast forward past months of meeting, emailing, buying, messaging and planning; in just about a month, I will be arriving in Thailand to film this person for a whole day, to capture this person's life. It's hard to believe that after thinking about it for this long, we are going to film the first "A Day in the Life" short doc. And with the completion of this website as a place for people to learn about this project and inquire about participating, we will have more people to film in 2020.
A lesson I continue to learn (and grapple with) is balancing thinking and action. My problem has always been that I am hesitant to take action unless everything is impossibly planned and well thought-out. And while it is good to plan and think about what one is going to do before one does it, for me, the process of planning and perfecting has been an obstacle to taking action. When I boil it down, it really is just fear of failure. My mindset has been that if I plan well enough, if I revise enough times, if I analyze enough, I can become fail-proof. Writing this, seeing this in black and white, it's so obvious how foolish this mindset is. Yet, in the moments of actually deciding what to do, or not do, it's incredibly easy to adopt this mindset to avoid the pain of trying and failing. And it's easy to agree with quotes on Facebook about trying and failing; actually living those quotes is another thing. Almost every step I have taken to make this project come to life has been taken without knowing what the next step will really look like, and without assurance of success.
I came up with a little mantra for myself a while back, that I would like to share with you. I write it here for you, but mostly for my own benefit, to remember and live it. The mantra is:
"Do it anyway. Do it any way."
If I don't feel like it, if I am not motivated, if I am unsure, if I don't have all the resources I think I need, if I am scared; do it anyway. If I don't know how to do it; if there is no clear, well-trodden road to take; figure it out. Do it any way you can.