“…you never really realize how many people are willing to help until you put it out there…”
On January 18, 2010 four ambitious Canadian university students crossed off #53 on their now famous list of, ‘What Do We Want to do Before We Die?’ when their self-made documentary, The Buried Life premiered on MTV with the largest recorded ratings in MTV Canada’s history. MTV chose The Buried Life as their flagship program in the coveted ’10 Spot’ on Monday nights and it became a runaway hit. The show featured the guys experiencing their list of wishes that includes, attending a party at the Playboy Mansion, helping to give birth to a baby, opening the Six O’Clock News, and dozens more.
Relying on goodwill, guts and gumption, small town friends, Duncan, Ben, Dave and Jonnie travel the globe in a donated purple bus to complete a list of ‘100 things to do before you die’ and to help and encourage others to go after their own lists. For every item they complete on their list, they help a stranger achieve one of their dreams. Everywhere they go they ask the same question: “What do you want to do before you die?” This has become the group’s tool to ‘uncover’ the goals and dreams people have. Ben Nemtin, the “ringleader” of the group, narrated each episode. He is a graduate of University of Victoria. Dave Lingwood, is the “funny guy” of the group. He is a graduate of Concordia University. Duncan Penn, is the “business manager” of the group. He is a graduate of University of Victoria. Jonnie Penn, is Duncan’s younger brother. He is the group’s “idea guy”, constantly cooking up ideas, as well as the filmer and editor. Jonnie is a graduate of McGill University. The name ‘Buried Life’ comes from a poem written by Matthew Arnold in 1852. The idea is that day-to-day stuff can sometimes bury you and make you forget what you’re passionate about in your life. Jonnie read it in English class and showed it to the rest of the group who agreed that its message was totally in line with how they were feeling.
Each member of the group strives to answer the question, them-self: “What do I need to achieve or experience before I die?” When they turn the question to strangers, they are fascinated with the answers they receive. Given the ultimate deadline, people are forced to ignore the day-to-day trivialities that sometimes bury their lives and disguise their most personal dreams and ambitions. Ultimately, the group works together getting people excited about doing whatever it is they dream of. All four members of the hit MTV show are curious to learn about the state of their generation and the values and roles that we all play in today’s society. Each member strives to help others while having fun at the same time.
Since the show aired, they have gained over 1.2 million friends on Facebook, 170,000 followers on Twitter, appeared on Oprah and The Today Show, and crossed off the unimaginable #93 on their list: play basketball with President Barack Obama! In 2012 they published their first book appropriately titled What Do You Want To Do Before You Die? This book is an illustrated collection of your wildest dreams. Two hundred of the most moving, imaginative, amusing, and thought-provoking things to do before you die are brought to life through handmade art curated by Dave, Duncan, Jonnie and Ben.