We are wrapping up Day 30, currently typing at a Taco Bell in Tuba City, Arizona, while our footage from the morning downloads.
We've met hundreds of people in the last 30 days -- 544 people, in fact -- and had incredible experiences. Maybe you've been following our blog (BearDocumentary.blogspot.com) or our Facebook page (facebook.com/BearDocumentary), please keep reading, we've got new adventures every day!
Every day, we arrive in a new town, often a new state. Usually we have the camera out and approach people to do an interview with us. We've also tried some alternative approaches, including without the camera, and a quick approach where we just describe our project and ask "Do you know anyone who could help us out?" We've heard amazing stories and fascinating ideas about community, America, fear, trust, and what's going on between Americans.
Of the 544 people we've spoken to, 47% decline to even interview. Of those who say yes to an interview, 89% say no to hosting us. Fortunately we have that other 11%. We've stayed with hosts (or, in two cases, in hotel rooms courtesy of a kind stranger), for 24 of our 29 nights.
54% of the people we run into are female, while 46% are male. We have tried to be pretty random, some days picking "qualifiers" - we will only talk to people wearing red, for example. Of the people who have said yes, 49% are male and 51% are female.
We've traveled through 15 states from New Jersey to Washington, and south to Arizona. We've driven almost 6000 miles.
We've talked to 3 newspapers so far, 2 TV stations and 2 radio stations about our adventures, and we hope to talk to many more.
We've slept in private guest rooms, on beds, futons, floors, in a camper, in an empty cabin, in a rock showroom at a shrine made of rocks and gemstones, in our tent, and in our car. We've met people of all races, ages, and economic circumstances. We've stayed with families of up to 10 children, couples, college students, grandparents, and even people living alone. We've heard stories of tragic loss and great joy, and been taken on adventures by our hosts to jump in a river, see a baseball game, enjoy 4th of July fireworks, and go to local concerts -- often we stay up late, the conversation between us and our hosts never quite ready to end. We've experienced, almost every day, our kind strangers opening their lives to us, becoming a friend.
There is a beautiful exchange that happens, an exchange of kindness and experiences, an exchange of friendship. With many of our hosts, we already can't wait to go back to visit. We've learned that most people are friendly and kind, but maybe only when confronted by friendly and kind people (like us). But most of the friendly people we speak with seem to think that Americans are generally rude and that their town is friendlier than the rest of the country -- an odd stereotype that we are disproving almost every day.
We've done some mini-experiments to test variables in our appearance, but over and over our hosts tell us that their trust in us came from a gut feeling, intuition, good vibes, the energy between us. There is something intangible that manifests trust and kindness, and although appearance (and our friendly attitudes) definitely have an impact on those good vibes, it seems like this energy almost defies words -- maybe it will be captured in the magic of cinema.
We've talked to scholars in sociology, psychology, philosophy and gender studies who have informed the way we look at all of our experiences.
We've also visited three of the five Bears in the country -- in Washington, Idaho, and Arizona -- and used each remote and beautiful location to reflect on our experiences and have a personal day -- not quite a break, but a chance to speak to each other instead of dozens of strangers. Whether we're in a Bear or meeting new people, we shoot nearly two hours of footage a day.
To those of you who we met in the last 30 days -- it was wonderful to meet you, and thanks so much for sharing a story, a home, or just some time with us. And to those of you who've been following us and supporting us for months, we are putting together an incredible film because of you. Thank you.