Following the recent U.S. economic downturn, actor Paul Blackthorne (along with photographer and friend, Mister Basquali) decided to embark on a cross-country road trip deep into the heart of the American landscape.
Along the way, they stopped to interview random people about the issues and concerns facing every day Americans to try to gauge what society can do to pull together when times are tough.
The resulting documentary, “This American Journey” is an encouraging, insightful look into the unbreakable will of the American spirit.
Regardless of what we may have been brought up to believe through our own socioeconomic backgrounds and biases, “This American Journey” reveals the unique perspective that lies within each of us. It’s the showcasing of those opinions regarding what’s right and wrong with America that makes the documentary so compelling and engaging.
As an actor, Paul Blackthorne has appeared on some of television’s most iconic series, including “24”, “ER” and most recently, as Detective Quentin Lance on the CW hit series “Arrow”. But it’s his directorial debut in “This American Journey” that adds a fresh layer of inspiration to an already impressive resume.
There are moments in the film that are uplifting, while others will surely move you to tears. You’ll hear perspectives of common folks from all walks of life; many of whom having ideas that may make you reconsider your own way of thinking.
But in the end, the real reason “This American Journey” shines is because it makes you think. And perhaps that’s what Blackthorne had in mind all along when he set out on his cross-country quest.
I spoke with him about his journey across America and what satisfied him the most about it.
What made you decide to take on a project like this?
Shortly after the economic down turn, I became curious about what the people of America were thinking about the country. At the time, the American Dream was in a troubled state, and even I wasn’t sure how I was feeling about America (having always loved it since I was a kid). I decided that the best way for me to form an opinion on how I felt about America was to go out and speak to the people of America. So that’s what we did. We got on the road and had a great chat with a lot of wonderful people.
Did you go into it having an opinion of the people you were likely to meet?
It’s easy to judge a book by its cover, but if you take the time to actually open the book and read a few words inside, there’s a lot more to it than what you originally thought. As we drove across the country and met people in certain places sure, it would have been easy to form an opinion of what someone might be like. But once we had the chance to actually listen to them and really get a sense of their character, we were amazed.
Did you at any time during the course of your journey fear for your own safety?
There was one neighborhood we visited in a big city where we had to make a pretty hasty departure, but generally speaking everyone we met was very open and receptive to us and we were received very positively.
What satisfies you the most about “This American Journey”?
Getting the film completed was very challenging, but we were supported by a lot of incredibly skilled people and that was very rewarding. Seeing the audience’s reaction to the film and the conversations that are generated from watching it is also very satisfying.
We went into it wanting to make a film that would make us all feel good about life and be inspired to dwell on the positive and as a result, hopefully generate more positive stuff. And that’s what we’ve done.
Has your own perspective of America changed now that you’ve completed the journey?
I feel very positive about America. We may be going though some tough times, but the American Spirit is in good shape. I’ve also learned that we have a lot more in common with each other than we have different. If we choose to dwell on the positive and look out for each other a little bit more, we’ve got a greater chance of getting out of difficult times. We’re all in this together, so let’s work together and focus on the important things we have in common.
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