And then?

It feels like 10 years ago, but back when I came up with the idea for A Year Without Rent, I was struggling with some major shifts in my personal life, one of them being that I had no idea where in the country I wanted to live. It’s a big country and when you’re kind of hard-wired to be somewhat nomadic and already kind of floating around, the thought of just picking a place and getting an apartment and a lease and everything is kind of terrifying.

It also doesn’t make a lot of sense.

So the thinking was that a year on the road would solidify a lot of things, all the while giving me a chance to scout out the various parts of the country I’d never really visited outside of maybe a layover in the airport.

Surely by then I’d know where I wanted to live.


You learn a couple of things on the road: 1) Being on the road is kind of addictive. 2) It’s also exhausting. Also, living out of your car is a pain in the ass.

Seriously, it sucks.

But what’s amazing about it is all the travel, all the people you meet, and all the real cool places you get to go. Think about it. You spend a year going from place to place, never spending more than a week or two in a location, always seeing something different, always experiencing something different. Then pick a spot where you’ll spend several months or even several years. Even the idea of it makes my inner Mowgli revolt.

Still, it’d be nice to have a place to put my sh*t.

A Year Without Rent ends around the 20th of February where it started, in Purchase, New York on a short film by Mattson Tomlin. After that, I’ll need to catch up on the mountain of work that’ll surely be left. There’s SXSW in March that I’ll probably go to. Then a couple of films around the country throughout the year that I might be working on. One’s in Montana. I’ll probably be directing PAID sometime this summer and there’s a couple of other things that I can’t really talk about yet.

So, yeah. I don’t know.

I’ll need to find a source of income. I’ll need to find a place to spend the times when I’m not going to be on the road. A home base, if you will. And I’ve got it narrowed down to something like 10 cities.

So I don’t know where I’m going to live or what I’m going to do to pay the rent there. I know that when AYWR ends, my first step is to get drunk and pass out. After that, your guess is as good as mine.

Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.