Global Lives will soon launch a 24-hour-long film following a day in the life of a Seoul odd-job man, as part of a worldwide project aiming to bring a wider cultural understanding to its viewers. Chincha speaks to Sam J. Queen, director of the locally-shot documentary, as he talks projects, goals and some rather interesting guidelines.  


Chincha: Would you be able to give us a small summary of the Global Lives Project? What are its main aims in producing these documentaries?

Sam: Global Lives is an organisation that is based in San Francisco but the team there organizes shoots around the world. The whole purpose is to give people a look into the daily lives of people globally. The reason that they do these insane and awesome 24-hour shoots is so that they can as accurately as possible share real life with other people.

Where will these documentaries be aired?

They’re taking these documentaries and putting them online for anyone to see. As a company they also organise different exhibitions around the world.

How did this come about?

I have a friend who recently started working with Global Lives and he contacted me to let me know that they were looking for a shoot in this region of the world and to ask whether I was interested in sending a proposal. I started assembling a few members of the team and we actually based our proposal around a phantom KTX worker. After submitting a proposal I sort of thought it was a lost cause, but a couple of weeks later they came back saying they were interested. We were thrilled but definitely surprised.

How did you find the subject for the documentary?

The series I was producing for is called “Lives In Transit.” They picked 10 people around the world who reflect a life in transit. Within that number Global Lives tries to accurately represent demographics around the world, which are broken into categories such as sex, religion and location. They wanted us to find a Christian female, under 30, who lives in a rural area and works in transportation, which was pretty much impossible. Luckily the demographic completely loosened up and we were told to find either a male or female in an urban area. We were elated. I googled Anyman, which is this company you can call where they’ll send somebody to come and just do anything for you, be it clean your apartment or buy groceries. We spoke to the owner and they felt very positive about the project. But by this point we had very little time to actually produce the documentary so it became a bit of a mad dash.

Did you come across any problems in regards to the shoot?

The biggest challenge in this shoot was the legal aspect. We had to get release forms for all the locations that we filmed at, which is basically insane considering that we were following around a guy who would get calls that weren’t scheduled. We had a whole team wired into walkie talkies and when the owner got a call our Korean translator would zip off to the location to get the release forms sorted before filming. It was totally insane, but it meant that the footage was more natural.

How does this project compare with your previous work?

Right after I graduated I got this awesome opportunity to go to Africa for two weeks with a group of engineers. I was filming them build a water filtration system, so that was equally challenging because I was a one-man band for the entire two weeks. Right after I got back from that trip I came to Korea, so I actually edited the documentary in my little apartment. That was a blast, and this was a similar experience because it had sort of bizarre guidelines. I don’t think I would ever normally follow someone around for 24 hours, so I was really grateful to be able to push my boundaries in a way that I would not normally. 

Do you think the documentary raises any message about Seoul, or Korea as a whole?

One of the reasons we were so excited about Anyman is just because it does capture an essence of the bustling city that Seoul is. It was really cool because a majority of the jobs were food deliveries and sometimes the people were in bars, or some were in their apartments. It provided this awesome snapshot into many different facets of Seoul.

Last question, do you have any future projects lined up?

That is a great question. I’m going to Australia in a couple of months. It’s my next move after Seoul; I’m going to buy a camper van and drive around the country and work in odd jobs. I’m really excited about that. I’m trying to cook away a couple of ideas as far as movies. The one right now is definitely half-baked and could either turn out terribly or somewhat interesting.

of Sam’s Australian adventure.

Words by Daisy Phillipson. Photography by Mike Stulberg, with the shot of the film’s subject asleep by Sam J. Queen.