Every day we spend hours on the internet searching, shopping, reading, writing, reviewing, and communicating with people around the world. We put our lives on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and establish friendships, and sometimes romantic relationships, with people we have never met in person. We trust total strangers on sites like Yelp, Amazon, Rotten Tomatoes, and even those social networking sites, to recommend restaurants, contractors, products, and countless other things we purchase, site unseen. But what makes us trust certain people on the internet? Why do we allow total strangers to make recommendations when we have no idea who is really sitting behind that text online? That is the premise of a new documentary, #ff the Film, by filmmaker Erin Faulk. I was able to sit down with her last week to discuss the film, social media, and one heck of a road trip.
“[The film] will sort of chart a journey that I’m going to take coast to coast and back again,” explains Faulk. “We’re going to interview some of the people that I follow on Twitter … find out if these are the kinds of people I would like in person. Are these people that I would trust in person?” Faulk will begin her journey in Los Angeles, and travel 8,500 miles in just under 6 weeks, meeting people along the way that she talks to everyday on the internet. 140 people actually. 140 characters. Get it? (Yeah, I thought it was clever too.)
“We’re going to meet some comedians, hopefully some Second City actors in Chicago. I think they’re just a huge part of Twitter, and the social commentary with them is huge,” says Faulk, crediting them as one of the reasons she uses the site. “We’re also going to meet a lot of people in Finance. There are a lot of financial people on Twitter. They’re tweeting stock market updates … I love it because they’re passionate about what they do.” Faulk also intends to meet up with Broadway stars, and head out to visit an area that has been surprisingly supportive of the project through the Kickstarter campaign. “We have a $1500 level, which is where we’re going to stop by your place, interview you, film you and make you a part of our doc. It’s really being embraced by the fresh foods industry, and there are some farms we’re going to be stopping at.”
Faulk and her team launched the project on Kickstarter nearly one month ago, and with just four days left, they hit their fundraising goal of $15,000. “We’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm,” says Faulk. “You want to have a thick skin when you do something online, because its easy for someone to find a comment box online. Its easy for someone to be negative about things, but we haven’t see any of that. Our first day we raised $4,000 and we hadn’t even told our families yet.”
But the money isn’t the only reason they’ve turned to crowdfunding for their production budget. A major part of the project comes from the fact that, while on the trip, the team will be taking recommendations from their Twitter followers as to where to eat, and what to do, among other things. They’re looking for the freedom that the platform gives creators to do just that. “We had some people try to encourage us to take it to production companies before we started,” explains Faulk. “We like the idea of it being crowdsourced. We want to be able to get on the road for a month and change our minds. That sort of logistically becomes an issue when you have to go to the top to ask.”
Along the way, and with each person they meet, Faulk will be asking two very specific questions: Who are you? and Why should I follow you? Just for fun, I decided to ask her those very same questions, and this was her response: “You should follow me on Twitter if you like to laugh, because I like to pass things on from comedians, and I like to talk about the things I do everyday. I’m a complete clutz,” she says, adding, “I like being more of the eclectic person on Twitter, so you’re going to get a tweet about politics, and then you’re going to get one about how I spilled coffee on my shirt, and then one about how Avengers is at the top of the box office. You should follow me for a laugh more than anything.”
#ff the Film‘s Kickstarter campaign ends this Friday, and their trip begins just a week and a half later.
If you want to get involved with the film, or want more information, check out their Kickstarter page.
To follow along with their 8,000 mile road trip, and to offer your suggestions along the way, follow Erin on Twitter (don’t forget the #ffthefilm hastag!), or the film on Facebook, and their official website.