A Q&A with Joseph Townsend, creator of documentary about UNC bucket list
Joseph Townsend, in the red shirt, will preview the trailer for "Project Bucket" at Linda's on Saturday night.
When Joseph Townsend and his friends came to UNC in 2012, they resolved — almost as a joke — to complete every item on the The Daily Tar Heel's "UNC Bucket List." Now, five years later, he's preparing to show a sneak peek of his documentary, "Project Bucket," about the list at Linda's Downbar this Saturday.
Staff writer Michelle Dixon spoke with Townsend about the list, the documentary and the friendships involved.
The Daily Tar Heel: Why did you all choose to use a documentary as the medium to show your experiences?
Joseph Townsend: The original goal was to capture this bucket list in a way that hadn't been done before. It has been published in The Daily Tar Heel and there are a few articles on the bucket list, but there had been no singular summary for the bucket list other than the list itself. You have this 100 item list that gives this snapshot of Carolina. We wanted to use the tools we have. I was in communications and studied documentary film. So a personal goal of mine is, through a documentary film, to capture moments, capture experiences and show the experiences I have with other people. I think that is important to how we communicate beyond conversation. And so to us capturing our experiences, not only our own experiences, but capturing the experiences of what other people have.
DTH: How do you think "Project Bucket" exemplifies those aspects of adventure in such a small town?
JT: The fun thing about the documentary is that you are following these five students with very distinct personalities. You’re trying to find your place in a town like this or on a college campus. You see how we grew and how we became a part of the community. I think one of the big take home messages that we push for is that finding your place is not something that you do in a vacuum. It’s something that you do with friends. We grew closer. We went from friends to really becoming a family and team that is very connected. We still all talk and hang out. I think that’s one of things we want people to recognize through this documentary. And people who are looking to be a part of this whole Carolina community — you won’t do it alone. You will do it with people who you care about.
DTH: Besides friendship, how do you think this documentary affected you internally?
JT: In terms of personal growth, choosing to embark on a project like this, four years ago, and actually completing a project to this scale required such a high level of commitment. It was a great deal of sacrifice. I remember receiving an offer for an internship to conduct research in Bermuda this semester, but I actually turned it down so that we can complete the final stages of this documentary. And so I think this element of total sacrifice towards a common goal is what really what made doing this documentary so incredible. The amount of work and commitment really makes it special. When this project is done, calling it life-changing would be an understatement.
DTH: I heard that you all made a drink just for the sneak peek.
JT: We will be featuring a drink called the Blue Bucket. It’s an entirely unique drink for the night. So we will be featuring the Blue Bucket as well as Red Oak beer, which is the ideal choice for the bucket list team — very delicious and very tempting, which is the drink of choice for the night.
DTH: Were you all able to finish all of the items on the bucket list?
JT: We all graduated this past May, so we concluded filming. Only a few people actually know if we actually completed all items on the bucket list. You will find out in the documentary.
But what I will say is that no matter what, watching this journey of five students, we do see how we grow across these four years at Carolina. That is something that a lot of people will be able to see. Even if we don’t necessarily complete the 100 things on the lists. Like I said, you have to see the documentary to find out.
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