What Happened To Lost Americana in 2018?

No Book. No Posts. No Film.
What Happened to the Lost Americana Documentary in 2018?

I don’t like making excuses, but I also dislike putting things out into the world if I haven’t made it the best I possibly can. Unfortunately I have a tendency to want things to be perfect too, which ends up being an excuse in its own way. In the filmmaking world someone once told me that “done is better than perfect”, and in journalism with a deadline I often find myself turning in work that makes the cut, but maybe not as polished as I’d like.

With that thought in mind, I had set up 2018 as the year I was going to put together a Lost Americana book. I had started to reach out to contacts I had made and was setting up a timeline for everything from funding and designing, to publishing, and marketing.

Then February happened…

 

This video is of the vacant home that was being rehabbed next to ours (the house with the American flag is ours). And by “next to” I mean our walls touch. Luckily no one was hurt and while the fire never jumped to our home, the 138 year old brick walls could not hold back the massive amounts of smoke and water that came with the fire. Our basement flooded, ruining a lot of my framing tools and printed photographs from Lost Americana. My office had walls & ceilings torn apart to make sure there was no fire in the walls. I managed to save all my hard drives and film when the fire was still going, just in case it spread and that almost cost me my life when a window came crashing down while I was running out of my house.

The neighbor’s rehab project caught on fire and partially spread to home. My office took some serious damage and I spent the rest of 2018 cleaning up the mess.

All in all, the ordeal was the most disruptive thing to ever happen in my life. My family & I were living in a hotel for the first month afterwords and in a small high rise apartment for the following 6 months. The majority of our belonging were boxed up like we were moving, but they went to a storage facility for that entire time. Beyond the disruption to school & work, there is a mental disruption that comes with the lack of permanence you have while living out of suitcase and sleeping on rental furniture.  The road ahead involved coordinating the repair our place, as well coordinating daily life and the documentary took a backseat.

Even with my home almost burning down, I still managed to find the time to document the news that was happening around me.

If you look back at blog posts from 2018 you will see there’s a post that happened two days before the fire. A post that was a result of going through a backlog of film scans that could be used in the book. The next post is from late October, when we were finally back home and things were somewhat normal. I tried my best to stay active on social media, but Instagram might have been the only real consistent venue for Lost Americana in 2018.

It wasn’t the biggest apartment, but it did have an amazing view. My oldest son watching the sun rise with a crescent moon over Lake Michigan.

The Good

Things weren’t all bad, the documentary started getting some press. I was interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio, had a long talk on the AgUncensored podcast, started writing about Lost Americana for the American Conservative, and my hometown newspaper ran a full page story on me and the documentary.

Add to that I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from so many of you happy to see me writing again and documenting stories of rural America. I’m super committed in 2019 to not only finally putting out a book, but working on interviewing people as well and getting first hand video testimonials of how life is changing in the farming and ranching towns that dot the American landscape. Also, 2019 has already brought me my first video interview in over two years as I chatted with the mayor of a small town in North Texas on my most recent trip.

In 2018 it became way more important that this little guy was able to sleep soundly at night, than it was for me to put out a book of photos. I think most of you will understand.

You Can Make Things Better

As 2019 picks up steam I’d love to get the word out to the world about how our small agricultural towns are disappearing. Retweet & share the social media posts Lost Americana does on Facebook & Twitter. Make your own social media posts with links to the Lost Americana blog. Make sure you sign up for the email newsletter too.

Above all, thank you for the support and all the kind words.

Vincent D. Johnson