Given the amount of e-mail I'm getting about Jim Killeen and his movie - Google Me - I think it's probably worth me writing a few words here about it. If nothing else, it'll give me something to point people towards instead of typing out the same old reply over and over.
So, here's the thing... Jim Killeen's film is a documentary about him googling his name and then trying to meet and interview other Jim Killeens. I don't know much more than that. I haven't seen the film.
But my inbox suggests that a lot of people are getting a bit angry on my behalf. Most of them ask if I've seen it, if I've contacted lawyers, if I'm suing him or any other variations on that theme.
It's kind of flattering that people feel, um, kind of protective towards me and I really do appreciate that people are looking out for me but my attitude is that it really doesn't matter. In fact, I don't even think it's all that similar to things I've done. I suspect in most cases people are conflating two of my previous projects and getting themselves a little confused.
For those who are unfamiliar with my past - and I never expect anyone to know my cv inside out and backwards - many years ago I went looking for 54 of my namesakes. But I doubt very much that I'm the first person to have done something involving namesakes and I was certainly never going to be the last. But not having seen Jim's movie I can't say that there's any other similarity. I don't think there is.
As hard as it is to remember a pre-Google world, Google hasn't always existed and even when it did exist it didn't immediately become the go-to resource it is today. If it had been my search would never have happened. If you've seen the show or read the book and if you enjoyed what you found there, the chances are that what you enjoyed was the unfolding of the story. It wasn't really about finding out what Dave Gormans were like or what affect a name might have on someone or any of that it was about how one event led to another. We didn't set out on day 1 to meet 54 Dave Gormans. We set out to meet one. And something he said led us to meet another. And something he said led us to...
You get the idea.
Now, imagine a world of smart phones and Google. I'm in the pub. I mention to my friend that I'd heard the Assistant Manager of East Fife was called Dave Gorman. He doesn't believe me. Instead of the conversation leading us to board a train bound for Scotland, one of us would have whipped out a phone and used Google to prove a point. And that would have been that.
The first domino wouldn't have toppled and there would have been no chain of events. There would have been no story to tell. The very thing that makes Jim's film tick is the same thing that would have prevented my story from even beginning - the readiness of information.
This is the reason that I turned down offers to do a sequel. We didn't meet my namesakes in order to make a TV show. We made a TV series out of stuff that had happened. There's an important distinction. But a second series never made any sense to me because it could never have been a genuine and authentic story. We'd have had the resources of a TV company on our side. We'd have been able to find a whole series worth of namesakes in advance of filming any of it. Then we'd have been able to plot the best journey between them. So where would the story be? And what would we be doing it for? To make a sequel? What kind of motivation is that? It just doesn't make any sense to me as an idea because it would inevitably involve having to manufacture pretend hardships and that would be an insult to the genuine tale I'm so proud of.
I'm not suggesting that googling people and going to meet them is a redundant exercise per se, just that it's not what I did. Nor would it have made sense (to me) to do a second series under such different circumstances because it would have to have been either a completely different type of show or just a manufactured - and therefore, somehow dishonest - piece of work.
(That and I had a spidey-sense that I didn't want to paint myself into a corner as the wacky-namesake guy
... something I wrote about
in a round about way when the DVD of Are You Dave Gorman? was released a while ago
The other story I've told that people seem to conflate with it is Googlewhack Adventure
. I'm not surprised by this. I've got used to meeting people who've never seen any of my stuff but think they know what I've done because they've read this or that in the press etc. (And I'm sure I do the same about other people all the time) On many occasions I've met people who sort of
know that I once met some namesakes or something and also know that I did something
with Google in the title and they, just, well, they just assume they're the same thing because it sort of makes sense. And I guess it does. Sort of.
But Googlewhack Adventure's got nothing to do with it. Again it's not really
a story about an internet word game. It's another story about how one thing leads to another; about a chain of events - about a breakdown. And one of the things that precipitated it was my frustration at the cartoonish wacky-namesake-hunter
people assumed me to be. I turned down the Are You Dave Gorman? sequels and the merchandise and so on for - what I think were - healthy reasons. A less healthy part of my make-up reacted to the same pressure to be that guy
in a different way and, eventually, Googlewhack Adventure was the result.
So genuinely, Jim's project doesn't seem to me to be all that similar. If I catch it one day I'll let you know if I still think that. It's a film I'd never have made but that doesn't mean it's a film that nobody
should make. It might be brilliant. I hope it is.
Either way, there's no value in wasting energy in getting upset. The next
thing is always more exciting than the past.
Talking of which... there's this DVD you might like