Who has inspired you in your life, and what do you admire about them?
Craziest thing in the world, there’s 2 different types of people that inspire me. There’s the kind of people like Michael Jackson for instance. By the time I left the Amish, Michael Jackson’s recognition had already been pretty tarnished. And it wasn’t til after he died and I started watching some of his footage and documentaries that I realized, Wow, back in this guy’s time he was a very gifted, talented artist and that’s why he had billions of followers looking up to him as an idol. Look at Anna Nicole Smith. At one point she was very famous, and her legacy was tarnished at the end. You know, Elvis Presley. You can just go down in history and look at some of the world’s greatest idols who were very talented at one point in their life and then it seems toward the end of their career they kinda tapered off. But the fact that they still withstood the test of time inspires me a lot.
The other kind of people [who inspire me] are the people who I have a lot in common with. People who I can look to and say I could probably do that. Garth Brooks - I think the guy’s an amazing artist. Probably the most complete artist I’ve ever seen perform live on stage. Brett Farve falls into the category of the very talented person who let his legacy get tarnished at the end. But he also falls into my same category of just a good old country boy who grew up, had nobody, and worked his way to the top. That’s what inspires me about someone like him. Because of pure grit and determination and overcoming serious criticism, as I am, they just kept falling on their head and now they’re at the top. It’s because of people like them that I keep moving ahead despite all the criticism I get from the Amish people.
How did you get involved in this project?
This project spinned from Amish in the City that we did in 2004. Then last summer we did a couple of documentaries that were quite popular. And based on those two documentaries we ended up doing 10 of them this summer.
What would you say has been the hardest part of Amish: Out of Order?
The hardest part of this project is just to be mentally prepared for every obstacle that comes along. It’s extremely hard to go out to people that you know and love, and try to get them on board to film out at their neighborhood. I take the criticism that they throw at me and just let it bounce off my head and keep moving forwarding. That’s hard to do.
If you could live at any time in human history for two days, when would you go back and why?
There’s two periods in history that I would like to go back to and live in. The one is the time when the Amish who were Roman Catholic started breaking away and had to live in the fields and hide so that they don’t get executed. They were and crawling through cornfields so that they could hide, just to get together on Monday morning and hold their prayer meetings. And they had to go through severe torture in order to stand up for their beliefs. I know this sounds crazy but I kinda wish that I lived in that era of time, because I think having that experience would make me a lot stronger person religiously.
The other time frame I’ve always been intrigued by was the American Indians when the Americans came to this wonderful country. I wish I had lived in that time frame when there was a culture change, when the Americans and Indians had to live among each other and communicate with each other. Like Daniel Boone. I wish I could’ve traveled with him for just like 10 years.
Growing up on an Amish farm, what was your favorite animal and why?
I’d have to say the dog, because I was able to have the patience to teach dogs more than most Amish farmers did. Most teach them to obey their command and run and get cows. I always took it to the next level. I had dogs that I taught how to do tricks. I remember I had a dog who I taught how to throw a basketball back to me.
What do you think is the greatest threat in the world today and why?
The biggest threat in the world, period, is money. Even when I was Amish I was taught money is the root of all evil. Money makes some people more powerful than others. If everybody had to share equal money, it would probably make the world a better place. I’m not exactly voting for that because I do want to be a millionaire someday, but I do think that money is probably the root of all evil.
What’s one of the most surprising things people find out about you when they meet you?
If someone had met me at a party and they had heard about my background the first thing they’re gonna think is humble, modest - somebody that likes to stay out of sight. On the flip side I am probably the most competitive person anybody’s ever met and I take an awful lot of pride in everything I do. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than putting my whole heart and soul into something like the documentaries we’re doing for the National Geographic and sitting there at the end after all the sweat and stress and tears and watch it come across the screen and seeing your name at the end of it. And you realize you had a part in making something that wonderful.