THE TEARDROP PROJECT: Documenting Life with a Teardrop
by: Bob Phillips
Cameron Smith is an adventurous fellow who has never met a stranger. With a borrowed teardrop camper and a video camera, he put together a series of web documentary videos called The Teardrop Project. Since 2015 he’s done a series of 40 episodes about people he’s met along the way in his journeys. Now, Cameron and his girlfriend, Pixie, have completed a “feature film” that documents their lives as they’ve worked on a teardrop, traveled, made friends and captured the lives of others on video.
Cameron and Pixie started dating in 2016 and she jumped into the project wholeheartedly. She is a professional photographer so the match-up was perfect.
The feature is set for release on the Project’s Facebook page November 2, two days before Cameron’s 30th birthday. It is a behind-the-scenes look at the two as they filmed the Web series, interwoven with the stories of incredible folks they’ve met on the road -- a retired hot rodder; a burly man that wears only skirts; Cameron’s father, a mural artist; a Sicilian rockabilly band; and an amazing musician. And it’s about their personal struggle to survive as self-employed artists and the hardships and triumphs that go along with it.
“I’ve been making films since I was a kid and started doing it professionally after I left college in 2010,” Cameron said. “I mostly do music-related videos and promo videos for bands, but my penchant for travel, meeting new people, and wanting to make as much content as possible, I came up with the idea for The Teardrop Project about seven years ago. I actually started it in 2015 when I found out about teardrops.
“We were donated a half built teardrop and we’ve been slowly working to finish that bad boy so we can take the show on the road. It’s about 95 percent complete.”
A donor provided them $1,500 to finish the teardrop so they were able to put on solar panels, install a TV, the rest of the wood, all of the electric, and everything needed to finish the teardrop except for paint.
“The main issue was that even though I had been researching how to build teardrops for a few years, until you actually do it there’s no way to know what to do,” Cameron said. “I had to learn how to bend wood, do electrical, which still isn’t right but it works, wire solar, and take what the previous owner had built and make it work for our needs. “The teardrop is pretty large at 5x10 feet so there was a lot of work that went into making everything fit accordingly. Pixie and I had to hand-install the giant hatch by inverting it and holding it on top of my head until she could line up the hinges.
"I remember having to stand with the thing balanced on my head for about 10 minutes while we called my dad for reinforcement. Even then, because the wood was starting to warp, it wouldn’t slide into position, so we had to add a bunch of extra oil and hammer it in. It works great now, though.”
The Teardrop Project Website states: “Go behind the scenes with Cam and Pixie as they tell the stories of the incredible people they meet for their documentary travel series. Get a glimpse at the actual realities of being self-employed artists and see the authentic lows and soaring highs.
“The Teardrop Project is an endearing, engaging, charming, and open look at the monetary and emotional developments over the year of two artists, putting together a documentary travel web series. See a real relationship develop, struggle, and learn lessons from the inspiring people they meet along the road.”
The video episodes are available at www.Facebook.com/TeardropProject.
The Project’s sole source of income is a Patreon Page (www.Patreon.com/TeardropProject) where people who enjoy the videos can contribute money monthly. Cameron said that’s only about $60 currently, so they have to limit their travels to North and West Texas.