It started off as an unlikely group of four under 24, but three young entrepreneurs with big dreams and an eccentric cameraman from Montreal spent 30 long days together doing 30 new things all for one purpose: changing people's perceptions of people their age.
After hearing their generation labelled as lazy, self-entitled and apathetic millennials, the four realized their parents' ideas of success — get a degree, get a good job and live on your own — just didn't pan out for them. The world in 2015 is a different place. Degrees are often not enough, jobs are scarce and housing is more expensive than ever. McGill graduate Matt Dajer points out, however, that information, technology and communication have become incredibly accessible, and today you can even create your own job. They called themselves Generation Y Not, and they were ready to do something completely different.
"Essentially, our parents expected us to go through the same path they did, but the reality is that that path isn’t the same anymore," says 23-year-old Dajer."We sat down one night and talked about how we felt we wanted to do something bigger — something that got us way out of our comfort zones."
The crew getting ready to eat bull testicles.
Dajer already knew fellow group members Ammar Kandil, Thomas Brag, and later met their fourth member, NYU graduate Derin Emre in Montreal in 2014.
Brag, he recalls, was a hilarious storyteller and came up with the idea for Project 30 — 30 things in 30 days (either together or with one person) that they've never done before in Montreal.
"We’d plan, film, edit and release an episode a day on the Youtube channel. It was the craziest idea I’d ever heard but I was in instantly," he tells The Huffington Post Canada.
In July, the four decided to stay in a one-bedroom apartment, graciously offered to them for free by their executive producer. They had a budget of $500 and started compiling a list of things they've always wanted to do.
"Over half of the episodes weren’t even on the list initially. Many of the stories came spontaneously on the night before and even on the day of," Dajer notes.
The challenges ranged from jumping off a bridge (a small one) to making a rap video to raising $500 for charity.
They sometimes didn't find time to eat big meals and lived on pasta, salad and late night shawarmas.
Dajer says the biggest takeaway from an experience like this one, something he says anyone can try at home, is about trying new things and never taking no for an answer.
Matt Dajer is ready to be a model at Toronto Fashion Week.
"You become more empathetic, happy, and curious," he says. "Pretty much every single day, and even before the project, people were telling us we couldn’t do this and that. Ultimately that’s the point of the whole video: to ignore all the outside voices and trust your gut."
After the release of Project 30 on YouTube (you can find the video below), Dajer says the team has received offers from agencies and producers who want to make the project bigger. However, Dajer says, Generation Y Not plans on sticking with their orginal idea, but executing it elsewhere.
Dajer himself has saved up money working part-time over the years, and the rest of the team is also working part-time jobs to save. "We just need enough to pay rent, food and to keep making these videos," he says.
"Very soon, we plan on doing the next Project 30 somewhere else in the world with the idea that we’ll do 30 new things in 30 days in a place we’ve never been before," he adds, noting they plan on raising money for a trip January.
And even after doing ridiculous things like watching each other get waxed to eating ghost peppers on roller coasters to pretending to be superheroes, the four are now inseparable.
Thomas Brag gets a wax.
"Plain and simple, we are all best friends now. Ammar, Thomas and I live together and we still hang out with Derin and Andrea (their executive producer) pretty much every day," he says. "We feel like we’ve lived a lifetime together. These new experiences, which included lots of nerve racking moments and ups and downs, brought us closer than ever. It’s crazy to think that we didn’t even know each other a few months ago."
Here is Project 30's full list of activities.
1) Make a painting and sell it
2) Get ears pierced
3) Organize a huge clothing drive for the homeless
4) Eat bull testicles
5) Get invited to a stranger's wedding
6) Be a super hero and save the day
7) Play the organ in a church
8) Do a stand up comedy
9) Get waxed
10) Speak Spanish for a day
11) Raise $500 for charity
12) Eat insects and scorpions
13) Jump off the bridge into the Lachine Canal
14) Eat ghost peppers
15) Explore an abandoned building
16) Sleep outside
17) Take part in Ramadan
18) Draft 2 superstar football players to our intramural team
19) Laser tag with kids
20) Go LARPing
21) Make Mondays better for people
22) Meet the mayor and make up a secret handshake with him
23) Follow a street artist at night
24) Invent a sandwich
25) Be a guest on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah
26) Go on an overnight roadtrip to NYC
27) Make a rap video
28) River surf in Montreal
29) Eat a ghost pepper on a roller coaster
30) Take part in synchronized swimming
Bonus: 1) Model at a fashion show 2) Party backstage at a music festival (Osheaga)