You know Craigslist. If you don’t, then you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade. Now you get to meet Craigslist Joe. But first… I was first introduced to Craigslist by my friend Pascale in 2003 and I thought it was the silliest idea. A free forum to advertise whatever. I thought it was weak because they only had a handful of cities. And it was free, who would ever use such a thing? and how could such a website exist and scale to be usable by the larger populace? At the time, they had a section for Los Angeles and San Diego but not Orange County.
Turns out that Craigslist wasn’t such a bad idea. They eventually added Orange County and now they have almost every major city and metropolitan area. If the past 17 years of growth aren’t proof of Craigslist’s amazing reach and power, then you now need to watch this documentary: Craigslist Joe.
Craigslist Joe is one of the coolest documentaries I’ve seen lately. You can find it on Netflix. Craigslist Joe is the story of Joseph Garner, a young man that decides to take a strange journey. Joe Garner decides to leave everything he knows behind for 30 day and live off of craigslist completely for those 30 days.
Joe kicks off his journey with a farewell party with his friends and family. To make the experience totally legit, he gets a new cell phone, and leaves all credit cards and access to friends behind. In his backpack, there is a toothbrush, and a few other basic items, his laptop and a portable hotspot.
I won’t spoil the fun of the film, but let’s just say that this guy will do in 30 days what you won’t do in years. From feeding the homeless and needy at a shelter, to learning how to break dance. The freedom of not having a job and putting all other responsibilities on hold lets Joe experience life as it comes. There are no expectations, no judgements, no failures.
Surprisingly, he’s able to go from California, all the way to New York and back. Throughout his journey, he finds food, company and shelter all through Craigslist and the generosity of its members. Truly a remarkable story and a really well made documentary. Towards the end, he even gets to meet the founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark. Pretty cool adventure in my book.
I bet that Joe learned more about himself in these 30 days than many of us will learn about ourselves a year. In the closing part of the movie, Joe is asked to describe his experience in 10 words or less. He breaks down into tears as he tries to put into words what he has just experienced and at the end, the only thing he can say about the adventure is that it was inspiring. The most inspiring thing.
I am pretty picky about films, but this movie meets all three of my judging criteria (see #128). And turns out the executive producer is none other than Between Two Ferns funnyman Zach Galifianakis. Unlike most low-budget documentaries on Netflix, Craigslist Joe has a great soundtrack and the audio is clean, sharp and even. Sometimes indie movies and documentaries have a crappy audio track which ruins the whole experience. That’s not the case with this.
I would give this a two thumbs up and recommend you check it out. If you have seen it, what did you think about it?