Toonari Post was fortunate enough to be able to interview the writer and producer of the inspirational series €˜20-Something,′ Lanze Spears. He talks about what inspired him to produce this documentary, how the experience helped him as a film maker and what he hoped young people will gain from his documentaries.

Toonari Post (TP): What inspired you to make this documentary? Why did you choose to do it on a group of 20 something year olds?

Lanze Spears (LS): I graduated Art school in 2009 and moved back in with my parents. I was doing a lot of different odd jobs, like overnight shifts and janitor work, and I didn′t know what I was going to do with my life. I had a film degree but there weren′t any film opportunities that I could find. I started saving up film equipment for about a year and in the following year, I quit the jobs and then just traveled and trained for a couple of weeks; visiting all of these different cities and trying to interview other 20-somethings who were going through a similar experience. I also thought about the stuff out there, on television €“ there wasn′t really anything positive about young people.

TP: What persuaded you to choose those five individuals in particular? What attracted you to their stories?

LS: They all went to the same college that I did, and when I initially wanted to make the film, I wanted to make like a two hour film and have different cities and lots of different people. They were the only people who got back to me and took the project seriously. Also, I thought that a lot of their stories were really interesting. They′re all from different places. I felt like a lot of people, especially 20 somethings, could relate to being from a small place and then trying to venture out and have dreams and goals. That′s more relatable, opposed to a lot of things on TV; I feel like a lot of young people can′t relate to. It′s more inspiring because they feel like they can relate and see themselves in the stories.

TP: Did you feel like you connected to the stories on a personal level?

LS: I did. I was trying to figure out my own life after I graduated from school. Once I started to get the film equipment together and working on different projects, I wanted to make something positive and uplifting. I think that when people watch the film they are also seeing my journey because I am holding the camera and I am in every different city. Even after finishing the film I had to work doing janitor stuff just to pay off the music licensing and to build the website. So my own journey still continued even after the films was finished.

TP: Do you feel like it′s important to inspire young people to reach for their dreams?

LS: Definitely. The CD cover is drawn like a cartoon. That idea was inspired by people having an idea of where they want to go with their goals and dreams. And the more you go after it, the dream seems to shape itself around your reality. Each person that I filmed felt like there′s something that they′re holding on to; some kind of image of themselves in their head that′s keeping them going. So it′s more about allowing kids to realize that no matter what people tell them, and no matter what ups and downs that happen, they should hold onto the image they have of their future selves and never let go of it. Over time it will manifest.

TP: Is it true that you intend to produce a third video for the series?

LS: Right now I want to keep on hitting more colleges and go to more festivals to build the film up so more people can see it, but I definitely want to go to California too. But that would be mainly inspiring musicians. Eventually I want to go to different countries and create this positive movement, this positive brand that the youth can relate to it. California may be the next one I do in like a year or so.

TP: How will the film differ from the previous two?

LS: All of them will be similar in terms of the artistic style but they′re all different: it′s a different city, it′s a different location and there are different people. Each story is different and unique because each person is different and unique. And also every environment becomes its own character.

TP: What advice do you have for other young people who have been inspired to make their own films?

LS: Do it now. Do it now while you′re young. If you really feel like you′re a film maker, you′re a writer and you wake up every day thinking about that then you are it. If you′re really passionate about what you want to do just go out there and do it. Nothing is holding you back. I think that €˜20-Something′ was the biggest thing that taught me that. Before €˜20- Something′ I was slowly giving up on film and wondering if I should do something else, but it just showed me to go ahead and take the risk. Hopefully through this film other kids can see this and relate to it, adults as well. There have been adults who have seen it, and they said that it inspired them, even in their forties and fifties people still have goals and where they want to go.

TP: What′s the number one thing that you want viewers to gain from watching your documentaries?

LS: I want them to feel inspired. After they watch the film hopefully it could ignite something within themselves and make them think about their own lives. That was the whole point of €˜20- Something.′

TP: Do you have any more future projects that you are working on?

LS: I want to do similar films to €˜20-Something,′ but just different genres. I want to make more films that promote other artists out there. That was the whole point of making the soundtrack, the films also promoted musicians. I want to create a bigger community of musicians, dancers and bring it together through films. I also want to work on a social network that helps promote artists and get their work out there.

TP: Is there anything else that you would like to say to the readers of the Toonari Post?

LS: Anyone out there, no matter what age you are, continue to go after your dream. Fight for it. What′s the worst that can happen? If you don′t go after you dreams you are where you are now. I just hope people will continue to follow their dreams.


Image Courtesy : Lanzespears