Transcription from Apple Podcast.
Interview with James Buzzacco, the Director of ‘The Lost Storytellers’
“What inspired you to begin ‘the Lost Storytellers’ project?”Not really about the project concept itself, but what was your mental state going into initliazing the soon to be reality show?
“Well, we just received a two-year contract with one of our premier clients out of Los Angeles – set to commission the most elaborate production campaigns we’ve ever experienced as professionals – to essentially build another collection of our trademarked cinematic brand packages, but now it would allow us to create even more robust sets, design custom wardrobes and props, and to use state-of-the-art movie studio sets to get wild with our CGI offerings – all for the success of our new advertising assets.
“Not to mention that our green lit storyboards to proceed that handshake would soon lead us into the rain forests of Costa Rica, and the crystal-clear, underwater passageways of Cancun, and everywhere in between. I mean, this was a massive development for our boutique-style advertising agency – working out of Phoenix at the time, mind you. Glad that changed though! Creative Doorway LA is now official, by the way.
“No, but to keep this as real as I know how to – where things start to deviate from the American dream scenario is at the core of how myself and my wife (and business partner) perceive success in general now. It seems like no matter what milestone we achieve in our skillsets, or equipment we purchase, or new client project accounts we establish… that the excitement dies after the initial shock factor on day one. I mean, it dies. Like, not even giddy at all on day two. We just go to work and do what we love. So, it’s like this mirage situation. As soon as we get to the oasis, there appears to be another on the horizon.
“So, after 18 years in the business, you slowly start to get desensitized, and end up searching for ways to fulfill this deeper desire to make these experiences a bit more memorable. Now, how do you do that when the marketing industry is as shallow and one dimensional as it comes? Everything about what we create is fabricated from this preserved child-like imagination we’ve managed to exploit in some way to tell intriguing stories for companies who interface with consumers – so there is very little real connection there at the end of the day, when the job is done.
“Socially – it always equates to the bottom line. Everyone in the marketing and entertainment industry projects the same mirage on a personal development level as they do with their business aspirations – the ‘fake it until you make it’ situation. The sad thing is, is that it works! But, it starts to take a toll after a while, especially when you’re in pursuit of adding that level of meaning that only occurs when you’re at your most vulnerable and authentic states of mind – and not masked behind the smoke and mirrors with ulterior motives. It’s that real stuff under the surface. Like I said before, that is exactly what was in high demand for us to acquire in both our personal and business endeavors after exhausting that cliché, get-rich-quick formula years ago.”
“Now, as you’ve talked about a little bit, it’s no secret that the business of advertising can be ultimately cliché and, just, shallow, for lack of a better term. With this in mind, how did evolve as professionals to move away from this get-rich-quick format to creating something as raw and real as ‘the Lost Storytellers?’”
“No, you’re exactly right, the entertainment and advertising industry is designed to cast these illusions of grandeur, to project something or someone they aren’t, to cast this illusion of sorts for the sake of progressing their business or career. But, it truly is just a shallow business behind a shiny exterior. That’ll never change. And, it’s actually quite easy to get swept away in. It was obvious, though, that we had to custom create that social dynamic, because it didn’t exist around us. To surround ourselves with this type of energy was imperative.
“And again, with everyone projecting their rehearsed, Hollywood-pitch version of themselves, we had to think about how we would go about discovering the right talent to join our production crew for this project – of whom were still cut from the same cloth of artistic and experienced storytellers, but also looking to connect to something more authentic in their lives as well, instead of just chasing the worlds terms of success and short-term gratifications. We wanted to ground the entire project in something more ‘real’ like this. We were convinced it was vital to tap into a more collectively intuitive consciousness.
“So, we constructed and launched a simple casting call post – just as something unofficial that could either solidify our gut feeling to approach socially backwards like this at this phase, or further prove that we had to stick with the traditional protocols of how we would hire our freelance team for this project. However, in light of the unorthodox nature of this objective, this audition was designed to proposition people to disclose some really sensitive information about themselves, that would undoubtedly be deemed ‘weird’ by the industry we work in – even labeling our potential responders as ‘outcasts’ with equivalent negative connotations because of their caliber of backstory. Essentially, these were people who were capable of openly pronouncing their suffering, fears, depression, and anxiety conditions – a state of mind that would come to inspire the name of the project, ‘The Lost Storytellers.’”
“So, what was the vision for this project at the very beginning then? What I mean is, how was this idea originally conceptualized – like where you expected it to take you – and did the vision eventually meet up to your expectations in reality?”
“The reality of what happened with the Lost Storytellers didn’t meet up to our expectations, I think it really exceeded them. I don’t think anyone could have guessed that what happened would happen. In the beginning, our vision materialized to project what we would all become, The Lost Storytellers, like an uprising of people wanting to detach from the matrix, but still capable of creating art inside of the matrix. Ultimately, this was our way of surrounding ourselves with a more authentic and consciously awake ensemble of creatives – creatives that symbolize what this industry typecasts as people that are not presentable and not cool or whatever. Not confident. Too transparent. Weak because of their scars. A liability. You know how the survival-of-the-fittest philosophy plays into this kind of stuff!
“So, we stepped out in complete faith, and we were rewarded! Overnight the casting call on Facebook blew up, and thousands of people from all over the US poured out their hearts in this crazy unique way in these audition videos – that again, were viewable to the entire social media public on this casting post – where if anyone we knew would participate in something like this, it would be social media suicide! I mean, personal brands would be jeopardized, and professional credibility would be diminished! However, a new freedom of expression started to grow from this blank canvas we slipped under the radar. A liberation was happening as people were watching each other’s audition videos and authentically relating… and almost creating this family bonding between all of us as we watched and commented back in tears.”
“Now, give me an idea of what this casting call actually looked like. How did you provide guidelines for these audition videos to be able to capture that image of a broken creative, and eventually just create this perfect platform for such an authentic bonding?”
“The instructions of the audition were simply to just divulge their biggest weakness as a human being, and their biggest strength as a storyteller. Ironically, the two responses were so tightly entangled. Everyone, completely clueless to the undercurrent of our themes, attributed their strengths to their weaknesses – the exact perspective we were in pursuit of, but were unsure how to extract it. It was this an incredible breakthrough for us and everyone who participated, it appeared.”
“Okay, and then where did this transition happen, from where you had an audition video to where you suddenly had a thriving community of Lost Storytellers?”
“As we hustled to find a way to contain this beautiful social dynamic – out of pure desperation, because we didn’t expect this type of response – it ended up filtering into a group we created on Facebook, where we could potentially share our project updates to this community and allow this cultivation of people to continue telling their unique life stories. Misty and I, and this new community, were all shocked as we embraced the dysfunctions of so many other like-minded people, with so much gut wrenchingly real empathy taking place – on social media for that fact. That alone is a rare specimen.”
“Oh, you’re definitely right! So, after bonding and connecting with the people in this community at such an impactful level, was it difficult for you and your wife, Misty, to make a final decision on who you would cast as the actual crew for the Lost Storytellers?”
“At the end of the day, it was nearly impossible to just accept that our crew was only going to be ten strong out of the entire community, but we knew we had to select our finalists at some point. And yeah, making that selection was hard. We were afraid that after hearing a decision, people would feel hurt for not being chosen, and we would lose so many important people in our community of Lost Storytellers. But again, even after this phase of rejection for so many, the group remained intact and reflective of the authenticity we were in pursuit of, even after we revealed the cast selections publicly! They continue to embrace one another in the same way to this day, as we gear up to begin our filming in a few weeks; it’s incredible!”
“I know I already asked about your vision for the Lost Storytellers in the beginning, but what is your vision for the cast and community of Lost Storytellers as you look toward the future?”
“When our filming begins on April 14th… Our goal is to show the world, in a ‘docu-series,’ reality-show format, what this raw and natural social-dynamic actually looks like, as we travel the world on our upcoming marketing campaign to create a cinematic corporate brand together, shooting our trademark-style commercials in the production field like we do best – but this time with a cast and crew of Lost Storytellers. The question is, will this help solidify our thesis that this openly shared vulnerability connection could produce a camaraderie and productivity like never seen before? Could it create this everlasting bond that could push some kind of positive energy into the crazy universe – something real in a fake industry? Or will it backfire somehow?? Could the world itself and unpredictable human condition be too ruthless and sabotage this somehow? There’s really no way to know for sure what will happen next for the Lost Storytellers… so let’s find out together.”