Saturday, March 1, 2008

Far from a TV set

When I took out my tripod and set up the camera it never really sank in that anyone else would see what I framed in the lens. When I spent hours transcribing tapes and more hours writing scripts and more hours editing all that footage I never really believed anyone would see it.

I sat in common areas like the one I’m sitting in now in Nouadhibou, Mauritania and worked away in anonymity, at best a curiosity to the others in the room. “Oh you have computer,” a woman just back from the desert just said to me.

So it’s strange but fitting I guess that even as that thing I worked on relentlessly for 18 months finally meets an audience it doesn’t seem real to me that its happening. When “A Map for Saturday” airs on MTV tonight I’ll be lying sleepless under an open, cloth tent at the edge of the Sahara desert. I’ll probably be thinking like I was last night that I’d rather be home with my friends watching the show and having some beers.

I’m sending this from a dank, third-world internet café and though I’m traveling in a group through Africa, this weekend I feel some of that loneliness I grew so accustomed to on my yearlong trip. It’s not loneliness really but a sense that I’m missing my own party and there might not be another one.

But it’s true too that while I worked hard for the movie to succeed, I never made a decision based on what some critic or TV executive would say. I made it for me and did the best I could and promised myself that no matter how well or how poorly it was received I would remember that it wasn’t as great or as bad as someone else might say.

That’s an easy promise to keep tonight because no one nearby will be watching; there’s one TV channel here and its not MTV-Mauritania. But I’m posting this on the day my little movie finally airs in the U.S. because it stands to reason that as many people will find my blog tonight as in the 40 months since I started this project.

But I won’t even know if that happens either, because before the premiere finishes on the west coast the sun will be up in Nouadhibou and we’ll drive into the dunes, away from the internet, and back to the familiar routine of framing shots I’m unsure anyone will see.


kj066 said...

I have always wanted to travel the world and after recently graduating college, I thought this is my chance. However, I had no money and no job, so I had to put my plans on hold til I could afford them. In the last year I'd lost sight of what I wanted. I watched your premiere on MTV tonight and (corny as it may sound) you reminded me of my dream to travel because I felt I was sinking into a dreary world of 9-5 work weeks. But I'm not sinking, I'm just working my way out to do what I have always dream about.

So thanks.

-New Jersey

msandone said...

I just watched your show on MTV and I found it very intriguing but I got really depressed at the end because I could relate to it a bit much, but in a different way. I just got back in December from studying abroad in Florence for 4 months, and I traveled all of Europe. I also traveled to Australia a couple years ago, so I have experience with traveling alone, but studying abroad was the best of both worlds because you had friends, roomates, and a place to call home, but the weekends were all spent traveling, almost every one! And you made the best friends. Then end of your story was upsetting to me because I felt all the things you had felt, except I had to let friends go as well that live hours away from me now, close friends. And live back home, not want to be there, and broke. But your video struck a chord with me, and I know there's thousands of Americans thinking the same way. By the way, I never ever said I was Canadian either. And the best part of being home? Well, now I can explore my own country. People hate on America but I think it has immense beauty and it's underrated, maybe you should make your next documentary on that! G/L on the road...maybe I see you on it sometime! :-)

kv0ne2kx said...

good job man, i just watched your show and i respect what your doing alot, and as far as being home , i guess we all desire what we dont have because id rather be out there like you are then here where i am, but eventually if all goes well that will soon be me out there , so keep your head up and keep doing what makes you happy in life, because this one is the only one we get.. i will try to keep up with your travels and take some pointers for when i do it i can at least have some base.. keep on doing what you doing with all that traveling.. my email is if you ever would like to have another friend in the states . 0ne!

Noracon said...

Ok, dunno if my original post will show but w/e... your film just makes me want to fast forward the 5.5 months left for my trip that'll last 60 days. Curse MTV! Now I'm going to buy it to watch the whole thing! But it's a film I'll happily dish out cash for. Anthony

allison said...

Hey Brook,

Just caught your documentary on MTV and I thought it was wonderful. You captured the joy and excitement of solo travel, but also the feeling of isolation, both from others and from your own life back home.

Congrats on the critical acclaim - it was much deserved.

Good luck on your trip in Africa and safe travels back to the States.


Kirstin said...

Your US debut was a success in my opinion! I've waited so long to see it (A Map for Saturday has been bookmarked on my computer for well over a year now, I think!) and was happy to see it didn't disappoint. I can't wait to get the full-length dvd.

You were spot-on with the feelings and emotions of travel and leaving home and coming home - I relived all of my travels all over again! I miss being out there!

Good luck through Africa and I look forward to seeing more of the world through your travels (and more travelling on my part, too!)

Kirstin, MN

East-West Hybrid said...

The film tonight was amazing. I was in the middle of watching "The Darjeeling Limited" and had to break to take the dog out. When I got back, MTV was on and "A Map For Saturday" was playing, putting anything else I had in life on hold. After graduating from college in May last year, I've taken a year off to "find myself," but realize that it's quite difficult to do that when you're living at home with the daily pressures of work, family, and just day to day life. The documentary made me rethink traveling again (did a very brief backpacking tour last summer, such a tease) and despite the cons (loneliness, general struggles), I've truly never felt happier. I hope you have a great time in Africa and return safely from your journeys. Keep up the good work and can't wait to see your next project!

ång∑¬ said...

"you must dare to serve the truth even when doing so you risk incurring the contempt of all." [dostoevsky]. the themes of your film, which i watched just over an hour ago on MTV (surprisingly for once something on the network sounded interesting) were so unequivocally real it left me with sheer bewilderment; and later, inspiration. it left me with many questions, one of the first being, how can one, or is it even possible for one, to escape the cold, hard press of alienation, of loneliness? after watching you, hearing your words, i would say it never can be escaped, especially in our modern society which so easily removes us from our world.. however the sense of self, of our humanness, of our spirit, and the relationship with the world that develops through it, can at the least be a comfort. and that is, really, probably, the only sense of true contentedness there ever can be. the relationship one has with another, another who is quietly going through the same situation as yourself and the effects of it, is a beauty of which language cannot adequately describe but can only be seen through experience. it is so fast, and yet there is a specialness to it. the idea that two persons, who know nothing about each other, can so rapidly see beyond any differences, to be able to look at each other and exclaim, he is my brother! we are both humans! we are both alive! and here together! and there is no need for language, for the understanding is already so acute in its absoluteness. it is of such great importance, of such merit to humanity, for one needs only remember that experience, or seeing that experience, to know beyond else of its inherent goodness. we are all people, and we are all in the world. I will always support Your work.

Left said...

I too just saw the this on MTV and found your blog. There is nothing more that I can say here that hasn't already been said, but I just wanted to let you know, if you happen to read this, that I really enjoyed the documentary of your experience and I envy your trip. What an amazing experience it must have been. I'm about to finish college and would love to just get away for awhile, to really see the world like you have done. I don't know if it will ever be possible, but for a moment tonight, even just though a small TV screen I watched your documentary and was taken into a world miles and miles from my own and I loved it. Thank you for that.

Travel-ista said...

I couldn't believe what I was watching on MTV tonight. MTV is so full of rubbish these days, I'm so proud that they aired bits of your documentary. I've already purchased the DVD online, and I literally only saw less than 10 minutes of the documentary on MTV.

Traveling is inspiring, and what I love the most about your doc is that you touched on how lonely it could be out there. So many people in the world talk so much about how they 'want to' or 'will be' traveling like we do, but never have the guts or the initiative to do it. They don't understand how yes, traveling solo is so utterly enlightening and soul searching, but that is due to a lot of those moments where you feel lonely or left out. Like when you call home on major holidays and hear all of your family shouting round the table like every other year, but how you are not there and now feel like an outsider looking in. How they think it is so cool that you are out on your own but can't comprehend the twinge of loneliness and longing you have to be there with them, even if just for a moment, in person.

I also loved how you said that you thought after traveling nearly a year straight, that you would get it out of your system and be ready to move on with the rest of life. But I, like you, have realized that this 'travel bug' isn't just a mere bug that you can get rid of, but rather the pulse of your heart, which forces you to work the rest of your life around your willingness to travel.

I look forward to learning more about your travels in the world, including Africa and beyond.

Best Wishes,

A^2 said...

hey dude,

Was great to see the documentary finally air! Hope everyone that checks it out decides to buy the full-length to see it in full :)

speak to you soon

Restless Dawn said...

I wanted to tell you what a great film you have. I have always wanted to travel the world but have been made to feel that I am crazy and irresponsible. I cried as I watched your film.It showed me that there are people out there that are just like me. If a 73 year old man can do it then there is still hope for me. Thank you again and stay safe on your Africian journey.

Kamelia said...

Your documentary is simply an inspiration to travel the world and see everything absolutely beautiful out there. Although I can't pick up and travel the world right now, I know that one day when I finish off all my student loans- i would LOVE to have the same experience you did. Until that day comes ... I have your blog to follow and documentaries to watch ... So keep up the good work!

Cindy said...

It's funny, on March 1st, thousands of us were watching you, wanting to be you and that same night (or apparently because of the time difference, that morning), you wanted to be us. Enjoy your time over there and THANK YOU for sharing your experiences with us. I, like yourself and many others, have also had the chance to travel parts of the world and I have never been the same ever since. I will be parting to Cuba in a couple of months and I can't wait to be able to share experiences with the locals and escape the dullness of everyday life. If only I was as experienced as you so others could see my trip as well.

Enjoy Africa and keep documenting as you did on your last trip. What made us love your documentary was that you are ordinary, just like us.