Dan's Business Card

Today is the one year anniversary of dandrinker.com. The project actually began two years before that, when I was in college. I was trying to choose a subject for a documentary film class where we were expected to experiment with audio/stills montages as well as found footage. My dad suggested my brother might make an interesting subject seeing as he was a senior in high school at the time and his transition into the workforce was something both my parents had worried about since the day he was born. My mom always referred to the dreaded transition year as "The Year of Dan" due to how much focus she and my dad had to put into setting him up for his post-high school life. I thought that was the perfect title for the doc, but we've been shooting for over three years now and it's no longer about a single year in Dan's life.

So I flew home and shot some footage of Dan at work and at school. I had no idea what I was doing. Dan had always starred in my movies so he was not camera shy. In fact, he loved showing off. This was a bit disconcerting to me because I had already made up my mind that I wanted myself and my camera to be virtually invisible. Every time Dan acknowledged me or that I was holding a camera or that he was famous I got more and more nervous about how I was going to edit out all his pandering.

The project was due at midnight and we were required to submit it by uploading it to a server. I missed the deadline because, quite plainly, it wasn't finished at midnight. I uploaded the project sometime in the early morning. My professor refused to watch it and gave me an F. The rest of the footage I'd shot was shelved and I began to focus on other projects. A year later, I was trying to play catch up for my Film 1 class, much of which I'd missed due to illness. Since I didn't have a final film project, I screened some projects I'd been working on before I got sick. One of them was The Year of Dan. I was surprised at how positive the feedback was. The class discussed it for a solid half hour, and it wasn't even shot on film! My professor pulled me aside and asked what my plans were with the doc and I told him I had none. Since it had received an F, I'd considered it to be a failed endeavor. He disagreed and told me to write the professor about the grade saying he'd also look into it. I did, and soon enough, the grade was changed to an A.

In February, 2008, I rediscovered some of the footage I'd shelved. It was about how Dan copes with death when he learns his teacher's husband has passed away. I was baffled that I'd let this footage sit in a drawer for almost two years. That scene contained everything that was missing from the original because it both showed who Dan really was and I didn't edit myself out this time. Dan acknowledges me and the camera every chance he gets, and it works. I was no longer worried about being invisible. As I continued to cut old footage, I was compelled to shoot more. I wanted to figure out a way to organize all these scenes but wasn't quite sure how.

Before I explain how Dan and I came up with the idea for a watch-it-as-we-make-it blogumentary you must first appreciate my brother's concept of "office stuff". I don't know when it began, but somewhere in his youth, Dan became obsessed with collecting office supplies. Paper, binders, notebooks, pens, staplers, hole-punchers, or as Dan would put more elegantly: office stuff. Dan's office stuff usually filled up two or three large bags whenever he would pack up for a sleep over at his grandmothers. On several occassions I would have to help him carry his bags of office stuff to her car because they were too heavy for one person to take them all. He easily could have oppened his own office supply store. The assumption in my family has always been that office stuff was a way to appear busy and thus feel more normal. The Drinkers are very busy people. Dan refused to be left out.

I understood this completely. Dan developed a routine with his office stuff that truly kept him busy. It takes quite a lot of time to organize all his supplies the way he likes them, pack them in his bags, and carry them off to Gran's car. Then when he arrives, he gets to perform the ritual of unpacking and setting up all his office stuff. This involves turning on the Disney channel and proceeding to transform his grandmother's living room into his office. It's a territorial ceremony as well. Once every available surface is covered with stacks of loose leaf, yellow notepads, and printing paper, it's not hard to figure out who's turf you're on.

One afternoon, Dan stood in my bedroom doorway telling me he wanted a business card. He explained that he was an adult now and if he was going to have real "office stuff" he would need a business card. I asked him what he'd put on the business card and he replied, "I don't know, Will, you?" I didn't have an answer. Later that night, it all started to make sense. I did some research, registered dandrinker.com, and set up a blog.

I distinctly remember us standing in the kitchen breaking apart the perforated edges of our newly printed business cards as the rest of our family looked on with skepticism. The card said "dandrinker.com" and nothing more. My parents were having difficulty seeing what the point of it all was. The idea was simple. Dan knows more people than anyone I know and come on, if Dan Drinker walked up to you with his business card and said, "my website!" you're telling me you wouldn't be booking for the internet?

My mom was worried we were going to run out of videos to post. Luckily, we already had some content for the blog. I'd just completed a new scene called Dan's First Date With Sarah. Dan and I were both quite pleased with how it came out and decided it would be a great way to kick off the site. The year that followed is pretty well documented already but let me just say it's been the best year of my life. So many families and individuals have written us with such kind and encouraging words, sharing stories of their own, demanding more videos. We read every e-mail, comment, and message and apologize if we aren't able to get back to you.

We are much further along with our project than I ever could have hoped but we are nowhere near finished. Stay tuned, there is plenty yet to come!


Karly said...

Happy Blogiversary! Thank you for sharing Dan's story with us.

JRS said...

I'm not going anywhere. I love what you guys are doing and look forward to each new post. Happy blogiversary!

jypsy said...

Happy Blogiversary!
Thanx for a great year. All the very best to both of you (and the rest of the Drinker Family) in the coming year(s)....
Your fans in Canada's smallest Province...

Crittle said...

I'm so glad to have found you. Count me among the ones who look forward to every post. Keep up the great work!

Have you all ever been to a Ds convention? I'd love for my Littlest to meet Dan.

amy jupin said...

Oh good! I love it when you post new stuff and I get to watch Dan the Man in action! Thanks Will and Dan for letting us into your world and showing me a hint of what may be to come in mine! All of my kids, even my Ben boy, the youngest with DS, love to watch your videos and read your stories. Keep on keepin' on!
Much love and hugs, The Jupins (from Alabama, but really from NJ/PA)

Monica said...

Happy Blogiversary!!!!! I know I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again "I Love this blog" I love the love you have for your brother, and the love he has for you. Everytime I come here my heart melts!!! I look forward to watching and reading more!!

Heather said...

I just recently started following, so I haven't seen all of the videos. I'm sure you've blogged about it somewhere, but I just keep wondering what the end product is going to be. Are you going to market and distribute it?

I'm glad I found you and happy blogiversary! I'll say again it's very nice to see an adult and to find out how their lives are going because I worry so much about that for my boy.

beth said...

Yay and Yay!!!!!

Dustin and Kelly said...

Dan and Will, I can't thank you enough for opening you lives to everyone in the world. I think your work here does is very important - you bring inspiration, awareness and enlightenment to so many and your work is such a great resource to everyone - the public, the service providers, and especially, us parents of a child with Down syndrome. Again, thank you!

Anonymous said...

You have captured what so many people don't see when they look at person with Down syndrome. Keep up the good work and continue to have fun.

me said...

whew! it's been a while since i've caught up on this blog.

without delay... happy belated blogiversary!

i think what you've got here is a fabulous idea. i have rather enjoyed it. it's given me a lot of insight to my daughter. and things that i should expect to with her... and to know that it's not just her with her lil' quirks.

thank you for this blog and i'm looking forward to more videos.


Anonymous said...

I love your posts and look forward to each new story or video. Please continue to let us know more about Dan and his life. As a Mother of a 2 year old with DS, Dan makes me smile and lookforward to my Joseph's teenage years. Your stories and videos of Dan have really helped me as a mother. I love how normal Dan's life is. Thank you for the insight.

Kele said...

SO glad you shared how it all got started. I, for one, LOVE your blog, as do my sisters and many friends. Keep it coming, please!!

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