What would you do with free money: $250 each week for two years, to be specific? Filmmakers Deia Schlosberg and Conrad Shaw want to find out — and are willing to put up the cash to learn how people behave when given dough with no strings attached.
Schlosberg and Shaw's documentary would explore the idea of the universal basic income, as the filmmakers' website explains: They hope to test out the notion that everyone in society should be given an unconditional basic cash income not connected to work, with no eligibility requirements. Their documentary, Bootstraps, would show what would happen if everyone had "the freedom to be independent of and unbeholden to any other person or employer for a source of life-sustaining income," as their site explains.
The filmmakers currently have a campaign going to raise $50,000 — enough to fund $250 in weekly income for two years for two lucky people chosen for the documentary. They've raised more than $12,000 already and hope to expand and eventually film 20 people from all different walks of life "to humanize and clarify for the public the effects of and possibilities within the concept of universal basic income."
How can you sign up?
If you want to be featured in the documentary, visit Bootstraps.com and submit your info through the contact form. Follow the instructions carefully, which include putting Bootstraps in the subject line and explaining how you'd spend $1,000 in extra monthly cash.
The filmmakers are looking for "individuals and families from different walks of life," to be their "characters" and "case studies." They told Fast Company they want volunteers to come from all over the country and to be a diverse group to show how different people will respond to a guaranteed monthly income.
"We'll be casting these roles with a mind for what will give us a movie that the most Americans will be able to relate to, that will shed light on all of our mutual humanity and break down barriers of prejudice and othering that have been bred into us by the hypercompetitive, selfish world we've had to live in for so long," Shaw told Money.
Because the film is aimed at promoting a universal basic income, applications may be more successful if you have positive goals for the $1,000 in monthly income. The filmmakers told Fast Company they believe people will "invest in themselves," become more entrepreneurial, take more risks, become more engaged in their communities and become more politically active.
While they're prepared and willing to show if their subjects respond selfishly to receiving the income, you'll want to keep the filmmakers' goal in mind if you are seriously trying to land the gig.
What's the catch?
Earning $1,000 a month for two years is a sweet payout, but you'll need to be prepared to be filmed deciding how to spend your cash — and this may not be as fun as it sounds. "Two years of free money seems so hype until the moment you consider that a camera crew — and eventually the entire nation — will be watching you blow a week’s worth of cash on a single rogue Target trip," as the Penny Hoarder pointed out.
If you're worried about your privacy and don't want your spending habits shared with the world, participation may not be worth a grand a month.
You should also know the documentary has a political focus: The filmmakers want to release the movie before the 2020 election to "spur introspection" on what a universal basic income would mean and to get the concept of a UBI into the national dialogue. Even tangential involvement with political issues can sometimes bring negative attention, so you might want to think carefully about whether you're willing to take part in a potentially controversial film.
If you're cool with being filmed? Go ahead and send in an application. Casting will take place once sufficient funds have been raised, reports Money. If you're picked, you might not only score $26,000 in free cash over two years but could also be a part of a movie that helps to shape people's idea of what a universal basic income could mean to the world.
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