By Amanda Mastrull
The question ‘What do you want to do before you die?’ is one many people have asked and answered.
Four guys from Canada have taken it one step further though – actually acting on it.
The stars of MTV’s ‘The Buried Life’ – Ben Nemtin, Dave Lingwood and Duncan and Jonnie Penn – set off to accomplish a list of 100 items, everything from ‘play basketball with Obama’ to ‘help deliver a baby.’
The idea to live out their buried life, the title taken from a Matthew Arnold poem, came about in summer 2006 when the college-age friends were hanging out in a garage in their native Canada. After forming a list, the decision was made to go on the road and film their journey, with Nemtin seeking out sponsors to donate resources.
After taking two such trips, MTV Canada took notice and offered them a television show. Though having a television show was an item on their list, they denied the offer, because taking it would have meant losing the rights to the show and its vision.
“We were so confident in what we were doing that we were never in a state of desperation,” Nemtin said of the decision.
When MTV in the United States began to move from reality-based shows like ‘The Hills,’ they approached Nemtin and co. about making ‘The Buried Life’ into a series. This time they got the deal on their own terms. All four members are executive producers and work on the show with the production company they partnered with in the pre-MTV days. Nemtin stresses the importance of not losing the integrity and vision of ‘The Buried Life’ now that they have the MTV partnership.
“The power in the project was a grassroots movement that already existed,” he said.
The current exposure that MTV offers them is both a help and hindrance. It can be a help to get things done, but when they wanted to play basketball with President Obama, the network affiliation meant their request was denied.
However, not content with simply living out their dreams they decided that for every goal they accomplished, they would also help someone else achieve one. Nemtin cites the story of one former homeless man as the most memorable. At his request, the Buried Life crew donated food to the shelter he used to go to. In trying to help the shelter he neglected to mention that his truck, which he used for his business, was broken. When the group found that out, they immediately set out to find him a working one.
Most of all though, with ‘The Buried Life,’ Nemtin and his friends want to show people that anyone can accomplish the goals they set for themselves.
“It sounds cheesy and I hate to say it, but you can do anything you want.”