Resembling nothing so much as a feature-length public-access-cable show, Eric Saperston's video diary is nonetheless sort of inspiring, in a roundabout way. Its message, however, seems far different from the one filmmaker thought he was delivering. In 1993, recent college graduate Saperston bought a 1971 Volkswagen minibus and hit the road with his golden retriever, Jack. Initially planning to follow a Grateful Dead tour and keep a cross-country journal that might help him decide what to do with his life, Saperston soon expanded his notion. Armed with a videocamera and a laptop, and accompanied by his best friend, college-dropout Dave Murcott, Saperston resolved to meet successful people and learn the secrets of their success. His mission: to bridge the gap between wise elders and confused twentysomethings eager to learn how the older generation managed to have homes, cars, steady jobs and marriages when they were in their twenties. Persistent, schmoozy and honest enough to show his occasional big-baby side, Saperston wrangled 15 minutes with former President Jimmy Carter, who, though not interviewed on camera, spoke of how individuals can make a difference. Inspired, and with this cornerstone in place, Saperston and volunteers Paige O'Brien and Kathleen Kelly spent two hardscrabble years interviewing dozens of heavy hitters, ordinary Gen-Xers and older folk. Advice-givers include the CEOs of Coca-Cola and UPS; then-Texas governor Ann Richards; horse whisperer Monty Roberts; "leadership expert" Marshall Goldsmith ("Have a dream, go for it"); former Fonzie Henry Winkler ("If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path"); Chicken Soup for the Soul author Jack Canfield ("[B]e who you really are and do what you really love") and others, all of whom dispense sensible banalities that seem to suggest no successful person ever lied, sabotaged competitors, suckered a gullible public, stabbed anyone in the back or hugely overcompensated him or herself while stock values fell and layoffs abounded. (Perhaps the best life-lesson comes from a producer who counsels, "There are no rules. We just make it up as we go.") Along the way, Saperston's spiritual and creative journey became another typically corporate-coopted showbiz endeavor: He snagged small sponsorships from UPS, AAA and others, confabbed with agents at ICM, and landed a development deal at Disney. He's since made his admittedly remarkable endeavor a career, presenting multimedia lectures as something of a slacker self-help guru. You can't fault him, but there is something ironic in the fact that what he does in life is tell people how he tried to find something to do in life.
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- Released: 2001
- Review: Resembling nothing so much as a feature-length public-access-cable show, Eric Saperston's video diary is nonetheless sort of inspiring, in a roundabout way. Its message, however, seems far different from the one filmmaker thought he was delivering. In 1993… (more)