For the past years, friends Ben Nemtin, Duncan Penn, Jonnie Penn, and Dave Lingwood have been on a mission -- they've hit the road trying to complete a list called '100 things to do before you die.' Impressively, they've already completed 73 of them, including #52, make a TV show. That show, The Buried Life, premieres on Monday, January 18, at 10 p.m. on MTV, and J-14 sat down with the four boys, all from Victoria, British Columbia, to talk about the show, the list, and dressing up as Oompa Loompas!
J-14: Where did you get the idea for your list?
Jonnie Penn: We started this in 2006, but not to make a television show. We were coming out of high school and wanted more out of our lives, so we wrote a list of all the things we've always dreamed about doing, big or small, and decided to help someone every time we got one completed. We worked extra jobs and made it into a road trip, and we've been doing it ever since.
Ben Nemtin: It was tough because we were in school, so we had to work really hard. Jonnie and Duncan worked up in the oil fields [in Canada] to raise enough money. Dave worked three jobs. I called companies and asked for support. But really it was reaching out to other people. A juice company paid for our gas. A skateboard company gave us skateboards to give away. Then over the next couple years we just got bigger sponsorships so we could continue to do it ourselves, and finally the project had built up enough momentum that MTV heard about it and contacted us. We said only if we can do it our way. And so they let us - we produced the show and basically ourselves which was a big thing for us.
J-14: Where did the name "Buried Life" come from?
Jonnie: In 2006, a poem was assigned to me in English class. I brought it to these guys right when we were getting started. We thought it spoke to the same feelings that we were having, which I think a lot of people our age and younger have -- 'What am I going to do when I grow up? What am I going to do with my life? What legacy am I going to leave in the world?' The poem is really old -- it was written 950 years ago -- and we thought if they're talking about it then and we're talking about it now, it's a human thing.
J-14: What was the first thing you ever pulled off on your list?
Duncan Penn: Ben's dream has always been to be a knight, from when he was a kid. On our first day out, we contacted this lady who had a full knight outfit, and she agreed to do it for free. Ben spent the whole day in this knight outfit, just doing regular stuff as a knight.
Jonnie: There were a bunch of kids around where we were doing it. So in return for her letting us use the outfit for free, Ben spent the whole day knighting them so they could feel like knights too.
Duncan: That made the front page of the paper the next day, which is also on the list, and that started the momentum of the project.
J-14: What was the first one you did for your show?
Jonnie: When we found out we were going to do the show, we decided to do eight items on the list that were really difficult. So we chose things like deliver a baby, make a toast at a stranger's wedding, play basketball with the president, and go to a party in the Playboy Mansion. That was the first one we set out to do. We didn't have the money to pay the big ticket prices that most people pay to get in so we had to come up with a creative plan to get inside the Playboy Mansion without paying -- it involved a giant cake, two Oompa Loompa outfits, and Ben dressing up pretending to be a celebrity [Cristiano Ronaldo, the soccer player].
J-14: What made you decide to give back as you got through your list?
Duncan: When we first set out, we don't have money or the contacts to accomplish these things on our list. People that have been helping us to accomplish the things, so it was very natural for us having received so much help to pay that forward.
You can add your list here or check out where The Buried Life boys will be next on Twitter.