In 2009, Tom Burke and Shane Hogan made the documentary “140 Characters”. The film, which shows 140 people from Dublin answering a single question, took inspiration from social media; its ‘character limit’ is the same as a Twitter message.
Burke and Hogan explain that the question they posed encouraged people to think positively about life and conceive of an ideal scenario. In the process of making the film, the two discovered that despite the differences among us – age, class, gender, political views – we generally want the same things, and those things tend to be quite simple.
With just a week to interview all of their characters, Burke and Hogan had to keep things basic. They allowed themselves to ask only the one question, no matter how much their curiosity tempted them to dig deeper. The pair also stuck to filming portraits, which in the end proved to be enough to create a compelling film; as legendary director John Ford once said, the human face is “the most interesting thing in the world.”
Here’s the documentary thanks to The Gathering 2013:
The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”