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The first documentary on digital nomads is being made

Today Youjin – world traveler, ambitious journalist and the heart of digital nomad community – tells us how the community is creating a turning point in the history of digital nomadism by producing its first independent documentary.

Youjin, you’re making a huge mark in the history of digital nomadism with this documentary! Tell us how did it start and what was your motivation to produce it?

More and more people are starting to move around, working and living anywhere. This movement is growing fast and lots of interesting things are happening right now. I thought this moment should be documented. And I decided to choose to do it in the form of a documentary. There’s a huge difference between solid text and vivid image. Producing a documentary is an important experiment for me as a journalist. I want to produce content that’s able to affect real change.

There have been many attempts to share digital nomad stories through blogs or books. For 8 years now, I’ve been interviewing people in tech. I quickly realized that journalism is rapidly evolving into a new form. The New York Times’ series of interactive articles is a good example of that. And there are many more experiments in journalism going on. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to just text anymore to tell a story I think.

I was offered a book publishing deal this year to write the first book about digital nomads in Korea. But I doubted the amount of impact a book can have in this society. In many countries, the concept of digital nomad is still vague and few people are aware that this is possible. To change this, I need to tell the real stories to show what’s going on the world. I think a documentary format can get those stories across best.


The documentary is going to put digital nomads into even larger spotlight worldwide. How do you think it will affect the remote work landscape and future businesses? What is the impact you’re aiming for with One Way Ticket and why does it matter?

I think it’s important to bridge individual subcultures and the general mainstream public. If you look at tech, there are lots of amazing things happening, and some of them can change people’s life drastically. The dialogue inside a subculture is the most important way to develop the subculture itself, but there is a certain limit to grow that scene to the next level without a general public’s’ interest and understanding. This is the reason why effective communication between a subculture (like digital nomads) and the mainstream public is important.

I want to make this documentary as a bridge between this digital nomads scene and the public, so that this entire subculture can grow and become more diverse. And at the end become part of the mainstream.

For all people around the world who enjoy their nomadic life, I would love to show them how other people live and work at different remarkable places. For the public, I would love to show there is a workable alternative way to live and work. There is a real market for these people, and the governments are starting to attempt to adapt to this new generation (like the Estonian government just created an e-residency)


What will production of this kind of independent film involve?

There is no such thing as a fixed process for this documentary. I’m not an expert as a movie maker and it makes me do things on my way. It’s so exciting! This is a completely new kind of project for me as same as I coded the first time in my life for this documentary’s website. I’m just trying to ship everything as fast as I can to release this documentary at the right time. And for the effective execution, I’m doing what I think I should do.

I spent the last 2 months for building a website, crowdfunding through my own donation platform without using Kickstarter, reaching out to potential interviewees and writing scenario. I will start filming in April starting from Southeast Asia, and I will be around Europe in summer for a preview of this documentary at DNX global, the first global digital nomad conference in Berlin. After Europe, I might stop by South America since Medellin, Colombia is one of the hottest places for digital nomads. I plan to finish filming in this year, so that I can start post production with editing crew.

After release the documentary will be distributed online for free and will be screened at festivals, conferences and travel & entrepreneurship meetups so that it can reach out as many audiences as it can, and makes a real change.

What are some of the production challenges you expect to face?

Since this is a story about digital nomads, who prefer not to set a plan in advance, potential interviewees’ schedule also keep changing and changing. I’m trying to set my filming itinerary in the most effective way due to my limited budget. Luckily, I have good friends who are good at filming and interviewing in many different places who willing to help me out on this.

Another challenge is definitely fundraising. I’m doing this independently, and I started crowdfunding. Many people gave me lots of support and encouragement, but still I can only cover my equipment and basic travel expense with donations. It costs pretty much for a high quality post production, and you will get what you pay for. So I’m looking for a sponsor who can help me in a financial way as an official sponsor of this documentary.

You’re currently raising funding for production of the documentary. Share with us how the funding is going to be used and how can supporters chip in?

All the funds I raise here will go directly into paying for the travel, equipment and crew costs, buying hard drives to store our footage, and food. Contributors will be updated about the details and progress through our monthly newsletter and twitter.

You can simply donate on the website with your credit card, PayPal, or even with bitcoin and pick the rewards based on donation amount such as early digital download of film with extra scene and featuring on the ending credit. You can be a a part in making this happen :)

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The first documentary on digital nomads is being made

Marina Janeiko is a UX designer, long term digital nomad and founder of What’s It Like, which tells you the best time to travel where.
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