You’ve heard the same story hundreds of times since the Great Recession began in 2007. It’s the story of the college graduate who did everything right, everything they were supposed to do, yet still found themselves without a job in their field of choice.
A local filmmaking project called "Jobless Anonymous" is hoping to document how five unemployed young Americans spend their days. Are they actively seeking employment? Have they completely given up hope? What do they do during the day?
Local filmmakers Taylor and Lauren Lench are the owners of Lench Films. The couple specializes in bringing stories alive onscreen, with a "balance in media" that uses moving images and music. Their most recent film is "The Smartest Team," a documentary about reducing concussions in high school football. The film is airing on PBS this fall.
According to Taylor, the project started as an extension of his own struggles with lacking work.
"We’ve dealt with this as freelancers," he said. "There are periods where it’s pretty much like we’re unemployed."
This feeling prompted a variety of conversations with friends about what people are doing while they wait for employment.
"People are doing a lot of different things, from searching all day to trying their own entrepreneurial endeavors," Taylor said. "A lot of people have told us they are just waiting for night, when their roommates who have jobs get home."
Lauren added: "It’s weird because all of our parents told us to follow our dreams and follow our passions; 'just be good at what you do and the money will come.' But the money is not coming."
The couple is seeking people from 25 to 30 who have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher and who have never achieved full-time employment in their field.
"We’re not looking for the person who couldn’t find a job teaching so now they’re a secretary," Lauren said. "That’s interesting, but we’re looking more for people who have never gotten there."
An Indiegogo fundraising campaign has been started to raise $8,000 for the project.
For the trailer, the couple sought subjects through Craigslist. The only respondent—other than one man looking for employment—was a young, prospective teacher.
The subject—called "Katie" in the film—believes her calling is to be a teacher. In the trailer, she said she "did everything she was supposed to do, that her program told her would work. But it didn’t matter—not one phone call back."
Katie spends her days just waiting and trying to keep busy while doing what she can to look for work.
The Lenches hope to find more subjects in similar situations for the film.
"We’re not trying to make any statements in the film," according to Taylor. "We’re more interested in what people just do to fill their days, how they cope ... We’re anticipating finding people who fill their days with drugs. We really don’t know."
The couple hopes the film will serve as a historical document of the era. As established filmmakers already, the money raised will go toward finding stories and subjects for the project.
"It’s all about the story," Taylor said. "At this point, the money should be going to developing more stories ... We’re not looking to gain anything financially."
Thus far, the Lenches have raised 15 percent of their goal and have 19 days left.
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