How did you develop the idea for the 11Eleven Project?
I had the idea for the 11Eleven Project ten years ago. I was living in Western Australia at the time. I went with a friend to see a double film screening at Luna Cinemas where I saw Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi back to back. These two films are very thought provoking. I recall falling into a meditative state, my mind just started running through ideas spurred on by the images I saw on screen. I remember leaving the cinema halfway through the film, abandoning my friend as I had an overwhelming surge to write; I grabbed some scrap paper and wrote down the concept for the 11Eleven Project. I kept thinking about “A Day In The Life Of The World” – what if the world story was actually told by the people of earth? What if humanity contributed their voices, images and sounds to the global narrative?
Now 2001 was prior to the world of YouTube, Google and iPhones. The idea was ready, but the technology didn’t exist. It’s taken ten years, internet advancements and, for me personally, to be skilled enough to bring to life such an ambitious project.
What exactly does the project entail and what does your team hope to achieve with it?
On 11 November 2011, we’re asking people all around the world to capture their lives using film, photography and music. Basically over that 24 hour period we’re telling people [to] pick up your cameras and microphones and record a day in the life of your world. After that date, we’re going to take all of those pieces of stories and turn them into different final projects: a documentary feature film, a photographic book and a music album. The documentary film is going to be screened for free globally on 21 September 2012, which is UN World Peace Day.
Our project has a few objectives. Firstly, to unite the world on this memorable date 11/11/11; secondly, to create a time capsule to see where the world is at - the good and the bad; thirdly, to reveal the similarities that exist amongst all people on the planet, our common humanity; and lastly, to raise money and awareness to charities supporting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. These goals include ending poverty, fighting against AIDS and preventable diseases such as malaria, gender equality, environmental sustainability, global primary education, ending poverty and hunger, maternal and child health and lastly, global partnerships.
How can our readers get involved with the 11Eleven Project?
We would LOVE readers of Inspiring Travellers to become involved. There are many ways people can participate:
- They can record on 11 November 2011.
- They can show their support by sending pictures; we're looking for photos of people holding up an 11/11/11 sign with their city name. It's a great “sign” of support.
- They can stay connected. Join the mailing list at www.11elevenproject.com, follow us on Twitter and join our Facebook group.
- They can become 11/11/11 Ambassadors. This entails helping to make sure your community, city, workplace or university know about the project and participates. If people do want to become Ambassadors they can contact me directly via email to director [AT]11elevenproject [DOT]com for more information.
You’re also the Australian Ambassador for the Charter for Compassion and you’ve done a lot of work with refugee and non-government organizations that promote awareness of human issues. How did you get involved in that kind of work and can you tell us more about some of the things you’ve worked on?
I always believed that artists can contribute to making the world a better place. I wanted to use my passion for entertainment and storytelling to positively contribute. My background has predominantly been in the commercial world. I’ve worked on shows such as Mad Men, Australian Idol, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and music documentaries for Sony Music or Channel [V]. In my spare time I always made sure I was contributing to projects that contributed to global good. I volunteered for a variety of different charitable organizations raising awareness and funding – this includes the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the AIDS Council and World Wildlife Fund. In 2005 I directed The Vagina Monologues at The Sydney Opera House. For me this project epitomised my perfect situation. The content was about an issue I care about dearly – empowering women – and the profits went to two women charities that helped with the fight against violence towards women.
I still continue to work on occasion in the commercial world, but my heart is in the not-for-profit sector. This year I had the opportunity to consult for Australia for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. I was exposed through the organization to some of the most devastating images from around the world and I, as a human being cannot accept the horrifying conditions that exist for many people. I believe one person can and does make a difference. I feel a responsibility to people, all people, and if I can help why wouldn’t I? In many cases it’s really just fate that separates us and if I was born into a house of privilege, surely I have responsibility to those less fortunate?
I believe in global responsibility. As you mentioned I’m the Australian Ambassador for the Charter for Compassion. I feel very honoured to spread the message of the Charter. At the heart of its message is to “treat all people like you wish to be treated.” The Charter for Compassion is lead by an inspiring religious historian, Karen Armstrong and has been supported by TED.com and the Fetzer Institute. Working with the incredible people at TED and Fetzer has been so wonderful, and through my work with the Charter I have been exposed to so many unique and special individuals around the world. If we all followed the mandate to treat people how we would like to be treated, imagine how different the world would be. I believe it’s a wonderful life philosophy to adopt.
You’ve travelled around the world quite a bit. What is your favourite city and why?
I call Sydney home, although I’ve barely been there this year. I think it’s the most glorious city; I am proud to be a Sydney-sider. That said, if I wasn’t living in Sydney you would find me in Paris. I love France and I adore the French. I fall in love when I walk around Paris: the art, the buildings, the way of living - just thinking of it makes me happy. I’m an idealist, a romantic and an artist. I feel like Paris was designed for me.
What’s your number one travel tip?
Live in the moment and talk to strangers. The best adventures on your trip are the ones you never expected to have, but you’ll only experience it if you travel with an open mind and heart.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
You count! You have the power to change the world. Everything you do does make a difference; it's up to you what type of difference and how much of a difference you want to make. Make your time on this planet count. Go and live up to your best potential. The time is now!