Try doing anything a thousand times: pick a thousand flowers, gift-wrap a thousand presents, do a thousand sit-ups, or a thousand cross-word puzzles… Seems a bit daunting, doesn't it? Now take a thousand sketchbooks, glue a thousand covers on them, stamp them a thousand times, hand number them from 1 to 1000, and send them out into the world, one at a time, no strings attached. Then create a website and try to keep track of them all. Do you still think those sit-ups sound tough? 

This is the story of 1000 Journals, a global, collaborative project, which was started in the year 2000 by a graphic designer in San Francisco who calls himself "Someguy." Each of the 1000 Journals has a stamp with the following message: 

Someguy left the first one hundred journals at random places all over the San Francisco Bay Area, or handed them to co-workers, friends, and strangers. He sent the next batch of a hundred journals to people who had heard about the Project and offered to distribute them where they live: Australia, South Africa, Denmark, England... As word really started to spread, and more and more people began to write Someguy and ask for journals, he mailed them, one at a time, to those who had given him their addresses. Soon after he created an online sign up list, where anyone around the world was able to get on the list and in line to receive a journal. However, before long all wait lists were filled up, and some people became desperate, offering money, services, and trades to anyone with a journal. 

Although the 1000 journals were all over the world and scans of artworks and writings came pouring in to the website, there was still no sign of a journal returning to Someguy. 

Finally, in September 2003, Someguy received an email announcing the imminent return of journal 526…  

So I kept an eye on it…
Hollie Rose sits on her porch and is flipping through journal 526. She says, "I just really wanted to make sure he got at least one back, and I wanted it to be me that gave it to him. So I kept an eye on it." She reveals how she tried to prevent Journal 526 from wandering off by keeping it at her cafe, the Klekolo World Coffee, never allowing it to venture too far. Yet Hollie faced some resistance from a patron of the coffee shop who wrote "Steal this Book" in bold letters, and somehow, the journal made it to 13 US States, Ireland, and Brazil. 

Someguy pulls Journal 526 out of the soft, protective pouch that Hollie's friend Deb D'Amato made for it, opens it, and starts to explore what's inside. He wonders, "why did this one come back, but none of the others? What happened to them?" 

The 1000 Journals documentary takes us around the world to find out. From the war torn buildings of Zagreb, Croatia, to Singapore, on to Australia, across the United States and all over Europe… 

We meet Matt in Toronto, Canada, who tries to track down the journal he once had. He'd traveled with the journal to Milan, Italy, where he's handed it to Seth, a guy he'd met on a bus. We catch up with Seth, who took the journal to Croatia. Seth left it in a bar in Zagreb, where Dampas, a Croat, picked it up. We meet Dampas' scout troupe, who added to the journal and took it into the Croatian mountains. Then the trails goes cold. We pick up on another journey, which takes us high up into the Los Angeles hills, then into a downtown office building, to the port of Marseille, France, to Melbourne, Australia. 

We're speaking with Julie as she creates an entry using the city debris she picked up at New York's Ground Zero: stickers peeled off a lamp post, parts of a billboard, discarded photocopies. We open many journals and look inside. As Mitsu flips through the pages of his journal, which has arrived from Amsterdam in a Fedex pouch, he recalls the connections the journal forged among the people who added to it. We travel to Amsterdam to meet the Brazilian who sent it to him. When Simon sees his journal again after it passed through many more hands, he notices that his entries were altered, and that one has disappeared entirely. 

In Helsinki, we learn that Hanna wanted to hold on to her journal much longer, but she is nervously sharing it with others. DaNelle's journal has become a part of her life and she has true difficulties letting it go, and Kristy and her friends write an apology letter to their captive journal. Will more journals return to Someguy, and will he be able to share them with the world? 

About 500 contributors to the 1000 Journals Project have been interviewed for this film, which tells the stories of their individual experiences with the journals: from "the fear of the white page," the challenge to find one's voice and express it creatively, reactions to provocative journal entries, to the realization that what's created in the journal pages isn't anyone's to keep. At the beginning of the film, Someguy quotes "Orbiting the Giant Hairball" and poses the question: what happens to our creativity when we grow older? As we open the pages of the journals, we can't help but be inspired to draw, paste in, write, paint, or doodle an answer.