Life changed for four young men after they followed the question "What do you want to do before you die?"

It seemed like a good question for a documentary film: What do you want to do before you die?

Four young Canadian men came up with 100 answers. Then they started checking them off their list: -Visit Folsom Prison. -Sleep in a haunted house. - Design a shoe. - Ride a bull. - Ask out the girl of your dreams.

MTV turned their film, titled “The Buried Life,” into a reality TV series that ran two seasons. The show followed the quartet as they pursued their list (help deliver a baby, make a million dollars) and assist strangers carry out their own dreams.

(Cross off “Make a TV show.”)

After the show’s cancellation the four published the 2012 book, “What Do You Want to do Before You Die,” which made the New York Times bestseller list.

(Check mark by “Write a bestselling book.”)

“The majority of the population doesn’t believe they can accomplish great things,” says Ben Nemtin, 29, one of the four. He’ll speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21at the Washington State University, Compton Union Building, Senior Ballroom.

click to enlarge Ben Nemtin, 29, says that answering the question "What do you want to do before you die?" taught him he can do anything.
Ben Nemtin, 29, says that answering the question "What do you want to do before you die?" taught him he can do anything.

They began by wanting to make a film but didn’t know what it should be about, Nemtin says. They decided to ask people what they wanted to do before they died and then help them do it, but then people started rallying around them to help them achieve their own lists.

“After dozens of things we did, we realized we can do anything,” says Nemtin, who now lives in Venice Beach, Calif.

The Buried Life is now a production company with several projects in the works, including a film and an evolved edition of the TV show they plan to shop around to networks. Nemtin speaks at colleges and universities around the country about their experience. He’s not a motivational speaker, he says. He merely shares their story and “how we were just like them when we started.”

When chasing down your dreams you start to see patterns, he says. For instance, writing down your dreams is good, but sharing them with others is key.

“You never know when help will appear. You may have a friend of a friend who is an astronaut who can help you get into space.”

(Item 100 on the list, yet to be completed.)

“When you speak about something you’re passionate about you find people step up,” Nemtin says. The title “The Buried Life” comes from an 1852 poem that member Jonnie Penn encountered in an English class.

“It articulated this thing that we couldn’t articulate,” Nemtin says. “That there are these moments of clarity and then they get buried and you spend most of your life being buried and not following your passions.”

He has no regrets, even about things they failed to achieve, like dancing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

“If you have anything in your life that deep down you always wanted to do and haven’t for some reason, this might be interesting to you,” he says about his talk.

Who: Ben Nemtin of “The Buried Life” When: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21 Where: Washington State University, Compton Union Building, Senior Ballroom Cost: Free

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