By Sarah Yang
In a Canadian garage four years ago, a group of college-aged friends discussed an important question, “What do you want to do before you die?” This conversation became the foundation for the new MTV show, The Buried Life, which features the friends traveling around the country asking people that very question and trying to cross items off their own bucket lists.
“Three of my friends and I, two of whom are brothers, were going through college and came to a point where a lot of kids get to at any age: we were lost, we didn’t know what to do with their lives, and we felt like there was something missing,” said Ben Nemtin, co-creator of The Buried Life.
So Nemtin, 26, and his friends made a list of everything they had ever wanted to do and set out in the summer of 2006 to pursue some of those goals. The four friends decided to make a documentary of their road trip and call their cause The Buried Life after a poem written by Matthew Arnold in 1852, which was about the desire to live life without limits.
“For us it was interesting that this guy wrote about this 150 years ago and it was the same feeling we were feeling. We thought this is bigger than the four of us, this is something that is a human feeling that I think a lot of people can relate to,” said Nemtin.
The friends traveled around in their RV for two weeks working to cross items off their list and help other people achieve their life goals along the way. The first person they helped was a former homeless man who wanted to give 200 chicken wings to the homeless shelter. The man did not mention that his truck, which was an essential part of his business, broke down recently. While Nemtin and his friends helped the man with his wish, they also visited a used car lot to provide the man with a new truck.
As they traveled around the country, they saw The Buried Life gain a large following online with a growing community of people looking to make a difference in their own lives.
After returning from their second road trip touring the West Coast, the four friends decided they wanted to take their documentary to television. After years of trying, MTV America picked the show up. The show is in its first season on the network and the friends remain hands-on with the project as executive producers.
“The dream was always MTV America, because that’s the mecca. That’s the megaphone to our generation, which is why we started this project—to speak to our friends,” said Nemtin.
For now, Nemtin and his friends are working to expand The Buried Life’s website and online community. They work hard to maintain the down-to-earth aspect of The Buried Life and keep everything else aside from the show separate from MTV.
“We go about things the same way we always have. We never tell anyone that we’re with MTV when we’re filming until it comes to a point where we would tell them so we’re not being untruthful. We just try to keep it very real,” said Nemtin.