A Game of 20 Questions

The What and the Why
The seed for this project was planted in my mind by the 36 Questions to Fall in Love. Something about the idea just struck me — like what if we all just answered these questions to everyone, everyone in the world, and we all fell in love with each other? Blah blah peace and love blah, but I couldn’t get the idea of doing something with those questions out of my head. Or just with questions in general. What that would be, I didn’t know.

Until I was walking to a house in Cork where I was couchsurfing, and the idea for this project sprang upon me. Thirty-six is quite a few questions, and maybe that’s what you need to fall in love, but this project isn’t necessarily about falling in love. It isn’t necessarily about anything.

I just had this idea, wrote down 20 questions, and now I’m asking them to people. We’ll see what happens.

Here’s the game: I ask you twenty questions, and you answer them. And I film you answering them.

That’s really it.

The plan is to make a short film of the compiled responses. I’m traveling right now, with the intention of being on the road for a long time and visiting a lot of places. I’m “interviewing” people along the way, asking them the same questions, and seeing what I and everyone can learn from them.

The questions are carefully phrased and their order is deliberately chosen. Most of them I came up with, partially in conjunction with my sister, Felicity, and a girl called Jess from Cork. Credit where credit is due. I thank you both for your contributions, whether intentional or not.

I’d eventually like to set up a website (or expand on this one) to post each interview in its entirety, and the text of all the responses I got. It would be amazing if someday people from all over the world could translate the questions, come up with their own, ask each other. Just start a dialogue. A globalogue?

When I first came up with this project, my host in Cork said something about Big Talk (as opposed to Small Talk). That’s kind of the idea. When you travel it’s always Where are you from? What are you doing here? Where are you going next? Maybe that’s interesting for some people, but the why is so much more interesting to me than the where. Small talk serves its purposes, it’s unthreatening and colloquial and easy, but most of the time it’s just dull. So I started this project.

The questions are things I feel like I want to know about most people, questions I’d want someone to ask me. There are so many questions that are important to understanding a person. These are just the ones that are important to me right now, or that I think are interesting, or fun, or that I think I could learn something from. It’s a personal project and intended to be.

Respondents can talk as big or small as they want. Some of the questions are more overtly “deep,” but I tried to keep them pretty open to interpretation.

I’m planning to do this all over the world, but cultural difference/oneness isn’t necessarily the point. If a pattern emerges, cool. If different people in different parts of the world tend to answer differently or similarly, cool. If everyone seems to answer similarly, cool. I’m not looking to uncover anything in particular. I just want to get to know people.

The idea is that authenticity isn’t stagnant, it doesn’t mean anything other than who you are and what you need in that moment. The questions are intended to dig as deeply as each respondent chooses. I’ve tried to cover the spectrum of light and dark, happy and sad, as simply and open-endedly as I can phrase them, without trying to trigger anything in anyone.

We sit down and I film on my phone.
I will ask the questions in English, I ask each respondent to answer in English.
I will provide no clarification or explanation of each question, except in the case of a language barrier for a particular word. In the event of necessary clarification, I will Google the definition of that word and one translation of that word into that respondent’s native language, and we go from there.
I will not read out the questions out ahead of time. I will give each respondent as much time as they want to think and answer each question. The respondent chooses when the answer is finished.
I will not speak during the interview except to ask each question.
I am, as they say, only human. When I hear something I really vibe with, I may not be able to stop from physically responding (nodding or smiling or whatever) and the same goes for something I really hate. I will do my best to not respond and pass no judgment.
Each respondent must sign off on the terms and conditions (literally, sign) before participating.

Then, eventually, I compile the responses into a film and share your truths with the world.

Most of this is also covered in greater detail in the terms and conditions, but maybe read this too.

I will not ask these questions of anyone without their consent.
I have done my best to phrase the questions in ways that are not overtly triggering. I cannot guarantee that they will not trigger anything, good or bad. In a sense, you enter at your own risk.
I will ask each respondent to read the terms and conditions before beginning the interview and physically sign their consent on a consent form.
I will provide the literal piece of paper to sign. Actually, two of them. One for me and one for the respondent.
I will ask again if the respondent would like to take back their consent after answering the questions.
If the respondent wishes to take back their consent at any point during the interview, that is their choice and they are free and responsible to let me know that.
If at any time for any reason after the interview, the respondent wishes to cancel their consent, they may do so, until the film is finished and made public.
If I do end up making this into a compilation film, I will not delete the film or edit it for any respondent after it is made public. At any point until then, each respondent is free to take back their consent.
I will contact each respondent when I believe the film is close to ready to ensure they still wish to participate. Any removal of consent at any time other than this is the respondent’s responsibility.
One more time, with feeling: If you want to participate READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS.