Who are the filmmakers behind the documentary?
How did you come up with the idea to make a film about 1000 Journals?
Working on locations around the world were producer, writer, and director Andrea Kreuzhage, and director of photography Ralph Kaechele. Andrea has been working on the film since December 2003, researching stories and developing the script. From summer 2006, editor Joshua Callaghan, composer Stuart Balcomb, assistant editor and animator Grant Dillion, artist Linda Zacks, and post production assistant Lonnie Goodwin joined the team. In January 2007, the 1000 Journals postproduction moved to Switch Studios, where studio manager Bruce Morse, online editor Matt Danciger, colorist Tim Huber, and sound designer Brett Hinton helped complete the film. To see all credits as they appear at the end of the film, click the End Credits scroll. The film wouldn't have been possible without our interview subjects. Here is the Thank You scroll which lists them.
When Andrea was reading about the return of Journal 526, and then saw the scans of its pages posted online, she became nearly obsessed with the whereabouts of the other 999. She said: "In the following weeks, I did little else but analyze the 1000journals.com site for clues. What happened to them? Why did this one come back, but none of the others?" The research took her deep into the Internet. Connecting the dots from link to link, she discovered a subculture of mainly autodidact writers and artists, who were forming collaborative communities around creativity. Heirs to traditional mail art, these people were using the Web to connect and speak with each other, but were sending around books, journals, artists trading cards, cameras, collection boxes, and any other kind of artifacts: sometimes organized as Round Robbins, where every participant got to keep one collaborative edition, but mostly unmonitored, counting on generous creative "donations" of time, effort, and love for a global community spirit.
The events following September 11th, 2001, put this on fire. Worldwide, people were feeling a deep need to connect, to write their own history books, to make their voices heard. Interestingly, participants in these collaborations were less concerned about ownership than sharing and the chance to take part in something no single person could achieve alone. They took the risk of collaborative black holes, of objects getting stuck along the way; to possess and consume wasn't the goal. This was all about creating and sharing.
But where are the journals that tell the stories of such an extraordinary collaboration across the borders? Andrea started to write a script based on the first answers she found, located Someguy, and sent him her treatment and proposal for a documentary. And a few days later, she was on a plane to San Francisco…
How did you locate the film's subjects?
In 2003, when Andrea first heard about the 1000 Journals Project, she began to research the travels of every single journal, using the data available on the 1000 Journals website, and whatever contact information she could make out from the posted scans. But many of the email or home addresses of participants had changed, so the research soon felt like the work of a private investigator: piecing information together from public records, phonebooks, Google, Yahoo, and community sites such as Live Journal, and Nervousness, following every link and every lead to find out where each journal had traveled to, where it could possibly be, and who had added to it. Andrea sent some 5,000 emails, hundreds of letters via snail mail, and made many, many phone calls. But all this paid off. She interviewed nearly five hundred people from around the world for this film, and when all was said and done, had seen about 80 of the journals in person.
Someguy posted about the film on 1000journals.com, and soon a lot of people got in touch with us directly, were filling in the questionnaire, and helping us find other participants. On really good days, it felt like we all are miraculously connected, and that every one of the 1000 Journals must be alive and can be found. But then there were the not so good days, too, the Dead End days. "Return To Sender" stamps on letters we sent, bounced emails, or no reply at all.
What's the weirdest thing you've seen in a journal?
There's lots of writing in the journals, but many people have the desire to also leave a slice of their life, quite literally: strands of hair; hand and finger prints; pictures of and maps to their homes. There's a little bag with someone's favorite spice in Journal 278; there are dead cockroaches taped throughout the pages of Journal 988; and in Journal 526 is a part of a discarded pace maker, and a transfusion needle. We have seen 9 journals with music compilations on CD. In many journals are envelopes with tiny objects, drawings, and photos, and the invitation to take a piece out in exchange for another personal artifact. In Journal 438, someone cut a square hole through 100 pages to accommodate a stone. The journals that have passed through many hands become heavy and quite sculptural, bursting at the seams, with all the things pasted, sown, stapled and glued in: fabric, photos, ribbons, stickers, postcards, small note pads, ticket stubs, napkins, money, postage stamps…
Was 9/11 an important theme in the journals?
Around 700 Journals had been launched by September 11, 2001, and judging from the 80 or so journals we were able to see, almost all contained some personal stories and reactions to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Journal 584 was actually taken into the Iraq war by an Army Reservist in 2003, and Chuck Radcliff sent his journal 957 to Baghdad, to Salam Pax, the famous Baghdad Blogger.
How was it to shoot all over the world?
Filming in many, many countries (and States) is fascinating and adventurous, but of course also a bit exhausting. There was a lot of heavy lifting when we were checking into flights with our camera, sound, and light equipment, clothes for several weeks, research materials, art supplies, and other assorted flotsam and jetsam, always trying to avoid excess baggage fees (we succeeded but for one time), getting everything from the flight into a hotel, to location, and a few days later, back to the airport… But we were lucky: we never had any major delays, didn't loose luggage, weren't robbed, and although we traveled thousands and thousands of miles in rental cars, didn't even had to deal with a flat tire.
In how many countries did you film?
We filmed all over the United States (in California, Arizona, Washington, the Virginias, D.C., Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina), in Canada, France, Germany, Croatia, Finland, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Australia, and Singapore.
How many hours of material did you film?
We ended up with 165 hours, and took well over 7,000 still photos. We made about 2,400 high resolution scans of about 80 journals that we were lucky to see during the making of the documentary.
Have there been any other films, books, or stories about the 1000 Journals Project?
We have a long list of publications that wrote about 1000 Journals posted here. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Someguy's 1000 Journals compilation book has been published by Chronicle Books in March 2007.
Is the 1000 Journals Project still alive, and for how long will it go on?
The 1000 Journals Project will stay alive as long as people continue to contribute and pass the journals along. It's very likely that the Project will extend far beyond any of our lifetimes. In our interview with Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Wired Magazine, he described 1000 Journals as the "1000 Year Project." Just imagine a journal hidden in a box in someone's attic, to be discovered by great-grandchildren many, many years from now. Considering the amount of journals whose locations are completely unknown, we're in for a lot of surprises.
How can I get a hold of a journal?
There are reports of journal sightings on a regular basis. But although they seem to be just about everywhere, they are also extremely hard to get a hold of. The best thing is to keep your eyes open, and you may find one on a park bench, under the seat of a city bus, or simply hidden in a friend's bookshelf. At this point in the Project there really is no system other than people handing them off to each other or leaving them in random places around the world.
How did the journals reach so many countries around the world?
Someguy first thought he could take all the journals around the world himself. But after he left the first one hundred at random places all over the San Francisco Bay Area, he realized how much time this would take. So Someguy sent the next batch of a hundred journals to people who had heard about the Project and offered to distribute them. We managed to find several of these early distributors, and interviewed Kayt Edwards, Sean Mahoney, and Andrew Johnstone for the film. Then, as word started to spread, and more people began to write and ask for journals, Someguy sent them out, one at a time, to those who had given him their addresses. Soon after, he created an online sign up system, where anyone in the world was able to get on a list and in line to receive a journal. Once people had a journal, they passed it from hand to hand, or sent it on to the next person on the list. Or just left it places. In one situation, a student at Savannah College was robbed at gunpoint, and the thief got a journal along with the student's bag. There's been no word yet as to if and what he's contributed. Dampas Donelli left a journal on the top of Mount Tuhobic in Croatia, and when he checked up on it a year later, he found that it was still there, and mountaineers were using it to log their climbs… Once the journals got out into the world, anything could happen to them.
Why are so many journals missing?
1000 Journals, and at least as many stories… A lot of people told us they were waiting for the right moment, or the right thing to add. Or as Boris Drenec describes it in the film, were "afraid of the white page." Many said that finally getting one of the journals, with already so much history in it, was challenging, and sometimes even nearly frightening. Erin Partridge said: "…it was like touching something holy." People asked themselves "What is it I want to tell the world?" And many haven't found the answer yet, and so their journal may still sit in a bookshelf, or is hidden under a stack of bills. Some people became really attached to their journal, and just kept it. Apparently, quite a few journals disappeared in the postal system. Heidi Turner believes her journal was destroyed because it had offensive artwork in it. Some journals were left at such incredible places, they simply haven't been found yet. We know of three that were left on the Appalachian Mountain Trail and haven't been heard of since. And then there're those that ended up under the fridge, in Mom's garage, in a moving box never emptied out...
If a journal is lost, why wouldn't Someguy simply replace it?
One of the goals of the experiment is to see what happens with a specific number of journals. Besides, just because a journal is missing doesn't mean it's lost forever. The missing journals may very well turn up sometime in the future. We'll just have to wait and see.
Why does Someguy call himself that?
Someguy told us that the Project is not about him personally; it's about the journals and what people put inside them. The alias "Someguy" has been a way of keeping himself from the center of the project. The name is also a nice metaphor for the Project as a whole: No one could create it all alone. He's just some guy who started it.
Did the 1000 Journals Project inspire any other projects?
1000 Journals has been mentioned as the inspiration behind projects such as The Baghdad Diaries, The Million Authors Project, 20 things, Nervousness, 100 Beijing Journals Project, and many others. However, as Someguy puts it, the basic ideas of the Project, creating, sharing, and collaborating, are neither new nor unique to the 1000 Journals Project, yet it incorporates them all so well that the Project often comes to mind whenever those concepts are brought up. There were many similar collaborative projects coming out around the time 1000 Journals began, all of which promoted collective creativity: PhotoTag published photos taken with disposable cameras that have been passed from stranger to stranger. BookCrossing asked people to leave books in public places for strangers to find and then tracked their wanderings online. There's Geocaching, where participants are using a GPS device to locate a hidden cache, then hide it somewhere else, all of this tracked on the Web. The 1000 Journals Project, however, was inspired by Someguy's fascination with messages scribbled on bathroom walls.
Since the film's completion, how is 1001 Journals doing?
The 1001 Journals project has continued to grow: we counted 3,812 members in January 2008. By October 2008, 5,216 members have started over 2,000 journals. As the stats are constantly changing, the best is if you see for yourself at 1001journals.com
Members of 1001 Journals have launched traveling journals, yet the project also invites members to create personal journals which are not sent out to others, but whose pages are shared on the website. In addition, 1001 Journals has a category for members to create "location journals," which are kept in a specific place such as a coffeeshop or bar. All journals can be tracked through the 1001 Journals website.