We did it! SUCCESS!! And success with our first stretch goal! Thank you! Would you help us reach a SECOND STRETCH GOAL of $14,000 which will add two more weeks of filming to finish secondary shots in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas? See Stretch Goals below.
The goal of this project is to create a shift in people by asking this one infectious and encouraging question.
I have traveled around the USA in a VW Vanagon and interviewed 132 people I have met along the way. Interviewees light up sharing their answer to this question and their words have always opened my heart. I want to bring that experience to you in a film and website.
This Kickstarter Campaign aims to raise funds to finish filming interviews for The Mysterious Question Film and website – 68 more for a total of 200 interviews.
The Mysterious Question Film will be a full-length documentary featuring interviews with people about this simple, yet profound, question. Everyone has an answer to this question and everyone loves the chance to talk about it, but we rarely do.
This film will nudge us to talk.
What is the question? Why the mystery?
The question that is central to this film will stay a mystery until the film premieres and the website launches, but I understand the desire to know the question!
I keep the question a secret because we live in a fast-sharing digital world. I want to honor what the interviewees have given me and wait until I’ve made it into a cohesive whole before sharing it.
I do not tell the interviewees the question before the interview. I don’t want them pre-thinking their answer. Sometimes, that makes them very curious, and sometimes they aren’t too sure about saying “yes” to an interview. But once I turn on the camera, I ask the question immediately and they understand the wait. Now, they are helping me keep the secret!
Who is making this project and how did it begin?
My name is Barbara Ryersen. I am doing this project because every answer to the question expands me and I believe every answer will expand you.
This project began in my last semester getting my master's degree in Film Production at USC. A professor asked “If you only get to make one film in your life, what would you want to add to the world?” This is that film.
When the professor asked that question, I took the challenge. I asked myself: What do I want most of all? I thought about it for a few days and the question that has become this project came to me. I could see how it could encourage. I could sense how it might unfold.
For the class, I filmed twelve interviews and edited a quick compilation. When my video finished, two students stood to start talking over others. Everyone was smiling and wanted to share their answers. I knew then that this idea was worthwhile.
The technology I needed for the website and film that would become this project was not yet available when I received my MFA in 2001. I worked briefly in the film industry before leaving LA in 2003. I went back to working as a carpenter – building, managing, teaching – and worked on this project when I could, letting it steep and develop. In 2010, the technology was getting closer to what I envisioned, so I bought a camera and got back into filmmaking.
How do you meet people?
I meet people by following my curiosity, doing new things, and waiting until I get a feeling in my gut, like a tap on the shoulder – “that is the person to interview.”
- I met John waiting for Chinese take-out in Rapid City, SD.
- I met David, Aaron and Vivian pulling out invasive species in Vancouver, BC.
- Because of their fabulous laughter behind me when I was eating pancakes in Eugene, OR, I met Stacie and Stephanie.
- I met Brian, Sharon and Shannon when I tried Contra-dancing in Boone, NC.
- Fleeing mosquitoes in Grand Chenier, LA caused me to meet Jimmie, Lennis and Mickey.
- I went to a Women in Agriculture Conference in Spokane, WA and met Vicki, Beth and Julianne - and many other fabulous women!
- …and I've met plenty by just walking up to someone and asking if I could interview them.
How much has been done already?
- 132 out of a total goal of 200 interviews have been filmed.
- Secondary shots (“b-roll”) have been tested in editing.
- Design of the website is finished – a paper “wire frame” that shows the look and interaction of pages and buttons has been done.
Why a website? Why not just a film?
The website will be seeded with the 200 interviews. When you visit, you will be able to view more complete answers by any interviewee AND you’ll be asked to upload your own answer or film it right there on the website.
The film will get the idea – the question – out there, but the website will take that idea and invite you and everyone to answer the question for themselves.
You will enjoy answering this question. You will want to know how others in your life answer this question. And then I believe you will go take a look at the answers of people who are unlike you.
I have grown tremendously because of this question – both by answering it for myself, and from listening to other's answers. I believe we are wiser than we know and my intent for this project is for you and everyone to discover your own wisdom and how wise we all are.
What this Kickstarter Campaign will do
- It will fund the filming of 68 more interviews (132 have been done, 200 is the goal).
- It’ll put me back on the road in my VW Vanagon to find and film these last interviews.
- And yes, the Vanagon is my home on the road; it is a VW Vanagon Westfalia camper.
Where and when will you go on this trip?
- I will be going to new places where I have not yet done interviews.
- My Vanagon is stored in Huntsville, Alabama. I will pick it up at the beginning of May and travel through the beginning of October.
- From Huntsville, I will head east and north toward the East Coast, following curiosity and joy to meet interviewees. May/June?
- New York is a destination in which to meander for interviewees and meet supporters like you for coffee (see rewards!). July?
- Next I will meander toward Boston, where I can stay with friends, and I'll get to meet more supporters like you for coffee (see rewards!). July/August?
- Canada’s next, because I haven't been to Eastern Canada and would love to interview more Canadians. August/September?
- West to Toronto to stay with another friend and meet more supporters like you for coffee (see rewards!). September?
- West to Lansing, Michigan to stay with another friend. September/October?
We reached our original goal!!! Thank you to all the backers! Because of that success, we get to dream bigger – thank you for this opportunity! These stretch goals are to fund me to return and film secondary shots with interviewees I have already filmed.
- Stretch goal #1 is to reach $13,000 ($1000 more) and would send me to Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
- Stretch goal #2 is to reach $14,000 ($1000 more) and would send me to Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
How did you figure the budget for the trip?
I’ve taken three such long trips to get interviews in my Vanagon. The budget to support me on the road averages $2000/month. I camp and cook meals in the Vanagon. It will take me five months on the road to get these last 68 interviews. That is $10,000 plus Kickstarter fees and the costs to fulfill the rewards, which brings the Kickstarter goal to $12,000.
I own all my own equipment, so there are no rental fees. And it’s just me, no other crew to feed and support.
I want to share this trip with you and the rewards are designed to give you a sense of being on the road with me and meeting interviewees.
All the rewards are based on this trip and will be delivered this year.
AND I'm offering this handsome and mysterious T-shirt in some of the rewards. It is the first T-shirt I've had made and will be exclusive to supporters of this Kickstarter campaign. The logo represents the mysterious question and will be the logo for the website.
Thank-you to my feedback team - these dear friends who have supported me with honest feedback: Laura, Kate, Jim, David, Elyn, Ellen, Mallory, Shane, Sandy, Lori, Meri, Kathy, Cathy, Ann, Michelle, Nancy, Carie, Reed, Valria, Judy, Barb, and Alicia.
Thank you always to the interviewees. You have given me more than you know.
And thank you to my early donors for believing in me at the beginning.
More Information –
Risks and challenges
Every project has risks and challenges. One of my recent favorite movies (and the book too) is “The Martian.” If there are problems, I’ll take a breath (maybe I’ll yell), and then “science it out.” There is a solution to every problem and I am not on a planet by myself. I’ve been on the road many times and I know people are kind.
This campaign is to put me back on the road to finish filming interviews. Having done this before – this will be my 7th trip filming interviews, I am confident that I can solve every problem or get help solving it. I have met wonderful people on the road solving such problems. And, yes, interviews have resulted from what I first thought was a delay in my progress. I love how that works.
And if any snag delays my progress, I will communicate with you.
- (30 days)