On October 15, 2008, Erik Proulx lost his job. A week after being told he’d receive a raise and a promotion from his position at a major Boston advertising agency, he was laid off, jobless like so many others. With no employment to be found in advertising, instead of looking for a job, Proulx made his own work.
He created, wrote, and produced Lemonade, a film about 16 advertising professionals who lost their jobs. Its focus is on how creative professionals get creative with their own lives. The film was funded completely by outside donations. A book is also in the works, as is Lemonade: Detroit, a film “about the disarming resilience of a city that can no longer rely on a single industry for its livelihood.” For the film they’re offering anyone a chance to become an IMDB-credited producer for $1/frame.
He took the time to answer a few of our questions:
It’s an interesting idea, so why attack the troubling job market by making a film about it?
I don’t think I was ever consciously trying to make any kind of wide-sweeping change. I just kept hearing these incredible stories about reinvention that motivated me personally. And I thought, if I was inspired by them, others might be as well. Making a film about people who reinvented themselves was just a natural extension of what I was passionate about (storytelling) and what I wanted to do with my life (filmmaking).
Are you a good man? Why or why not?
Yes, I am a good man. And like any good man, I have glaring character flaws. But if I am a good man 50.1 percent of the time, then I am still good.
Hopefully I’m not erasing the karma I may have earned by talking about this, but the other day I backed into a parked car. There was barely a scratch left on the other vehicle, but I left a note anyway. Both the woman whose car it was and my insurance agent were flabbergasted. “No one does that!” they both claimed.
I may be out several hundred dollars by the time this is done, and my premium will probably go up, but at least my good man status remains intact. And I think that’s worth it.
What makes a good man, in your eyes?
Someone who thinks, acts, and speaks in a manner consistent with his conscience. I’ve had several colleagues and bosses who would ignore their sense of right and wrong simply to keep their jobs or advance their careers. For that reason alone, I am thrilled to be out of the corporate environment.
Who has been the ultimate good man in your life?
My ultimate good man would actually a composite of several good men in my life. But if I had to pick one, it would be my old boss, Greg Thomas. Not only is he a superb creative mentor, but he is also a father figure to me. He has overcome a lot, including the estrangement from his father—just like me. Over the years he has emerged as my personal and professional role model.