The good times and the memories always seem to happen so quickly. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who hasn’t felt that desire to make great times last, and to capture joy within a moment.
That’s why I started documentary filmmaking.
My desire to create documentaries comes from an innate desire to capture incredible stories. To bring something that has amazed me and truly communicate that amazement to another person, that is what drives me in documentary filmmaking. So with this desire in mind, what is Project Bucket?
Project Bucket began with five first-year students, all friends since early days in high school, still trying to figure out their place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We had all been told how “college would be the best four years of our lives” and so far those best four years had been spent sitting in a dorm room playing video games. The UNC campus was large and everyone seemed to have something to do, but none of us really knew how to do those things. Patrick turned to the internet: ‘things to do at UNC’. The search returned a few results but one stuck out among the rest, and that was a Daily Tar Heel article, published the year before, list 100 things on an “official” UNC Bucket List to do before leaving UNC.
Doing all 100 of these things wasn’t our original plan, at the very least the list was exactly what we were looking for: a list of ideas. That night we set out to try one, and wandered over to the Student Recreation Center for some racquetball.
Something inside me knew this endeavor would be well worth capturing, given our athletic talents in high school, so I grabbed the only camera I owned at the time, my GoPro HD Hero camera. I set the camera at the front of the court and let it roll while we tried racquetball, many of us for the first time.
And we played for hours.
We sometimes hit the ball with all our might, other times we missed the ball completely. Patrick tried the kick the ball a few times, and boy did we have a great time.
Riding our momentum from the success of racquetball, we turned to the list for a food suggestion, and found our way to Linda’s Bar and Grill, a local bar on Franklin, that, being known for casual food and good drinks, was renowned for the delicious “Loaded Cheese Fries”. Our well exercised bodies were more than happy enough to receive the delicious cheesy nourishment, and the bartender hadn’t left the basket for more than two minutes before we were picking off the last of the cheese and deciding if we should order more.
The night had been one of the most fun we had had together in a long time, and just following the UNC Bucket list had showed us some great activities right in front of us in Chapel Hill.
Though it wasn’t that night, or the next week when we went swimming in Bowman Grey Pool (list #55) and “borrowed” some dishes and cutlery from Lenoir (list #37), that we decided that maybe this could be an adventure throughout our time UNC. After breaking for Christmas, we returned to campus and reunited. But I had spent the break looking over the footage I had taken of each list item we had already completed. And I had realized that we had the chance to capture UNC’s campus in a way that nobody had before. These list items had all been assembled, but with film, we had the chance to bring these 100 unique adventures to life.
I turned to the group. I loved documentary filmmaking, I wanted to make it a part of my career, so this was a perfect opportunity for me to work on a project and have fun in college at the same time, but this is not necessarily the case for everyone else. Patrick was studying computer science and statistics, Faustina pre-pharmacy, Teresa pre-medical, Bryce biology. Doing a documentary wouldn’t exactly push any of them closer to their careers. But what amazed me in that moment that I asked them if we were going to do this project and complete all 100 items, was that there was a unanimous agreement we would. This project was not just a way for us to make our own memories at UNC, but to bring those experiences and inspiration to other people.
4 list items down, 96 to go.
By the time the second semester of our first year was over, we had completed 36 of the 100, and we were well on our way to completing all 100. We juggled each of our crazy schedules between class and jobs and found time almost every week to knock something off the list, or work on a piece of a larger list item. We had all finally found our way into various activities on campus, but without question “Project Bucket” had become our number one extracurricular. Capturing our completion of the UNC Bucket List wasn’t just capturing the campus, it was capturing our college experience, right from the very beginning.
In preparation for our release of the feature length documentary as well as some film editing practice for myself, I began producing weekly youtube videos of us completing one bucket list item. check out some of our memories from freshman year, finding our way around UNC and living on our own in college: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOrKkrm0SiuehHc8DOqxNCw
Interested in our cause? We can’t make this documentary without your help. Consider donating to our indiegogo campaign to make this documentary a reality: https://igg.me/at/projectbucket and follow our story!