Adam Baker is one of those guys that make other bloggers look good. Since crossing paths a few years back, I’ve watched him tackle a number of personal and professional projects. And every time, he exceeded expectations. He works hard. He offers fresh insight. He partners with the right people. He doesn’t rest until he’s sunk every bit of his heart and soul into creating a product that brings value into the lives of others. And in that way, his work makes all of us look better.
So when he calls, you answer.
Last winter, Adam introduced me to his dream of creating a full-length documentary that would expose the foolishness of living life like everyone else. His dream was to highlight the stories of a number of people who had broken free from the typical pursuit of the American Dream. He asked if I would be willing to sit down with him and his crew to film an interview for the project. I, of course, accepted. And enjoyed my opportunity last March to share with him my story of downsizing, minimizing, and realizing the endless pursuit of possessions is no way to enjoy life.
To help spread the word, this past week, I had an opportunity to pull Adam aside and ask him to introduce the film a bit more. Here is what he had to say:
1) Adam, introduce us to your film, I’m Fine, Thanks. What’s it about? Why did you make it? And what are you hoping to accomplish with it?
Well, the short version is I’m Fine, Thanks is a feature-length documentary on the issue of modern day complacency.
But to be a little more specific, it’s a collection of stories about the choices people make in life, what influences those choices, and how those choices lead us into specific life paths. It’s about the push to lead the traditional scripted “American Dream” and whether or not that dream is truly our dream or not (for each one of us).
We made it because it’s an issue that’s impacted the very core of my life and my film-making partner, Grant Peelle’s (director) life. And the more we spoke with people across the country, the more we realized how universal a problem this is. Every single person seems to struggle with it at some point!
We’re hoping the film sparks action. It’s really that simple. We want people to look at their lives and identify if they are living their own dream or if some of their choices have been influenced by somebody else’s vision for their life.
Most importantly, we want people to take small steps to realign their lives with the dreams and passions they’ve likely pushed to the back of their mind.
2) Give us a little sneak peek into the production process. How long have you been working on it? How much have you guys committed to this project? And would you say it has been an enjoyable process for you?
Production started in February of this year and we should premiere in early July! This means it’s been one heck of a production schedule! (That’s an understatement). We had about a week before we went on the road to prepare. We then set off on a 6 week cross-country road trip where we interviewed over 60 people along the way.
The crew existed as a team of 5 – the producer (me), director, director of photography, camera operator, and sound technician. We piled into a 15-passenger van with all our gear for the whole 6 weeks.
We’ve since completed the tour. Now, most of the crew (and our families) have moved out to San Francisco to finish the post production of the movie (for two months out here).
It’s been an insanely demanding process! Many parts of the movie are an absolute blast to work on – and others are too stressful to be enjoyable in the moment. :)
Overall, it’ll be a 6 months I think all of the crew will look back on and be extremely proud of. The work we’re putting in now will change thousands of lives. And in that way, it’s always enjoyable.
3) Has the project changed at all while making it? By that, I mean, did you change any course while producing it because of the stories you were hearing? Or will the movie end up closely resembling what you originally pictured?
How hasn’t the project changed while making it? ;)
It changed almost every day on the road. Almost. The first week or two of work was basically scrapped once we found the way we’d actually shoot the far majority of interviews! (gulp)
But once again – our flexibility paid off. We eventually fell into a smooth pattern and captured amazing footage and stories. It just didn’t all come together without some major trial and error. The thing was – with 3 months or a year to plan – we could have had everything perfect, lined up, scheduled, and locked in. But we had a week. A week with a new team who had never worked together!
But we had two advantages. We were flexible and we were willing to jump in and DO IT. That helped more than anything. Just willing to go and do it – and then learn from what we did.
That’s the beauty of documentaries – they are meant to be discoveries. We knew a lot about the issue and the topics we talked to people about, but were still constantly surprised along the way. During post production the stories have changed in part or whole half a dozen times. It’s like molding a sculpture, not necessarily drawing the most perfect straight line!
4) I have heard you say repeatedly this project has changed your life. Could you elaborate for me? What are some of the most valuable, life-changing lessons you learned during your interviews?
Well, for me, it’s rekindled my commitment for the work I’ve been doing. Like any creative or entrepreneur out there – I second guess the work I’ve poured myself into from time to time. Often times a HUGE project like this can splash some water back on your face and make you realize how amazing an opportunity you have to help change people’s lives.
Picture this, we traveled for 6 weeks, around the country, talking to people about following their dreams and how powerful that experience is. How can that NOT change you?
We rarely talk about this at all in everyday life, yet we lived it for 6 weeks. People on the crew completely changed their jobs and pursuits when they got back. Others rededicated themselves to a craft, an art, or a business they loved.
Our goal now is to take the impact these stories had on us (having lived them) and share these wonderful stories with a wider, bigger audience on the movie screen.
5) How would you define the target audience of I’m Fine, Thanks? Who is going to benefit most from the stories that you tell? And what influence are you hoping to have with it?
First and foremost, it’s a film for those who have the luxury of being complacent. Complacency is not a luxury for most of the world. People who struggle daily to find food, shelter, or basic survival needs – by definition aren’t complacent. They can’t be. And it’ll take someone smarter and more dedicated to tackle the problem of real poverty.
But there are millions of us in the Western World (for lack of a better term) who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to be complacent in the first place. And in exchange for our fortune, we’re living our lives at a 6 out of 10 on the fulfillment scale. Maybe a 7 out of 10 on most days if we’re doing even better. But we have no idea what it would be like to live at a 9 or a 10 out of 10. (This analogy was actually provided by one of the people we interviewed – it fits well).
This is a movie for those who are doing “o.k.” or “just fine” or “getting by,” but know deep down that there is something much more to live than the path they’ve followed so far. It’s for people ready to rediscover themselves and their childhood dreams and who know a good ‘ole fashion kick-in-the-pants will help them get there.
We want to be that. We want to be that inspirational adrenaline shot. We want to be that swift kick in the butt to get people started!
6) Currently, you are trying to raise $100,000 through Kickstarter to finish the documentary. What is the money going to be used for? How is the progress? And how can we help you get there?
The movie business is an extremely expensive business. It’ll take us $100,000 simply to get the film edited, produced, soundtracked, colors, pieced together, and distributed. There are dozens and dozens of tasks we can’t do alone as a team.
Normally, a Hollywood studio or t.v. network swoops in and fronts the cost of production in exchange for all the right to the movie. We don’t have a studio or network – nor are we willing to give up the right to such an important message.
Instead, we have the public. A much better force!
We decided to use Kickstarter to help engage the community that has made the film possible in the first place. For as little as $5 you can help back the project, get the FULL download of the documentary when it’s released, and be responsible for helping get the message out to the world.
So far, as of this writing, we’ve crossed over 1/3 of our fund raising goal, with over 1,300+ backers, and almost 6,000 Facebook likes on the trailer! It’s been amazing to see everyone’s response!
Here’s how to help:
- Watch the trailer.
- Pledge to back the Kickstarter Campaign (and get fun rewards from us).
- Like the trailer on Facebook (right under the video).
- And share the message and campaign with any family and friends you know it’ll resonate with deeply.
Lastly, you can reach out to me personally anytime. My contact information (including personal email) are listed on the Kickstarter page. I’d love to answer any questions or chat about the documentary!
And thanks to Joshua for giving an amazing interview and supporting the project in such a big way. We owe you!
My pleasure, Adam, my pleasure. Proud to be a part of it.