A quest to find the happiest people in America and a look at the Industry of Happiness. Join the Journey!
Happiness is the ultimate commodity, yet we fixate on so many other things. We all know who the wealthiest, most famous, and worst-behaved people in the country are – they are celebrated everywhere you turn – but what about the happiest people? Who are they? Why don't we celebrate them?
We want to change that, so we’ve set out on a quest across America to find the happiest people in the country. Who is the Bill Gates of happiness? The Johnny Depp of joy? We are going to find those people and celebrate them, all while filming the experience to share with audiences in this feature-length documentary.
Additionally, we’re turning to the experts to learn what they’ve discovered about our most precious commodity. In the past decade, our country has experienced an explosion of interest in happiness: college courses in positive psychology, self-help books, positive well-being seminars, anti-depressants, and happiness groups. This multi-billion dollar “Happiness Industry” fascinates us and we’ve begun to document the inner workings by interviewing scholars, researchers, psychologists, authors, and spiritual guides.
Emotions are contagious; when we’re around happy people, we become happier ourselves. It is our fundamental belief that by creating a film that shifts the focus away from the doom and gloom that dominates the media and so much of our daily dialogue, we’ll spark a positive change in our society. We’ve slipped into a vicious cycle of fear and negativity – we’re out to end that cycle.
The most fascinating aspect of our journey so far has been the variety of people we've met. By having only one criteria for interviewees (happy people) we have connected with folks from all walks of life. Gender, age, race, social status, economic background, career, faith - all of these characteristics disappear and we’re left with a diverse cast of characters who all share one trait: they are exceptionally happy people.
We have no agenda nor do we personally have the answers. Many of our pre-conceived notions about what factors contribute to being happy have been challenged as we have begun to make this film. In fact, our very definition of happiness has warped and grown throughout this process. We are eager to share the thought provoking conversations and inspirational stories we've captured with audiences.
We began filming around the Los Angeles area earlier this year. As a proof of concept, we took a short road trip to Portland, Oregon, stopping along the way in San Francisco, Davis, CA, and Eugene, OR. During our travels, we filmed over 100 hours with people as diverse as an Academy Award winning songwriter, pastry chefs, horse trainers, a joke book author, and the co-creator of HR Pufnstuf. We’ve interviewed researchers in the fields of positive psychology, religious leaders, psychologists, psychiatrists, and a whole cast of everyday people, who were all recommended by friends as “the happiest person I know."
We’re constantly creating short videos from the footage we shoot as a way to begin the focus shift. They can all be viewed here.
We are turning to Kickstarter for two reasons:
1. There are over 300 million people in this country, so we need your help with finding the happiest! If this project makes you think of someone you know who is exceptionally happy, please put us in touch with them – we want to meet the happiest person you know!
2. Traveling costs money! So does making a movie, especially one of this scale. Funds raised here on Kickstarter will primarily go towards travel costs (flights, rental cars, motels, gas) so we can shoot the rest of this project. Additionally, these funds will help us employ another editor who will help us sift through the hundreds of hours of footage we anticipate filming. That's job creation, see we’re already spreading happiness! The more money we raise, the faster we will be able to complete this project and the sooner we can start celebrating happiness and begin a focus shift.
Adam is an award-winning documentary film director and editor. He began his film career with a personal documentary about his childhood entitled “Put The Camera On Me” which toured over 17 film festivals and is featured on one of This American Life with Ira Glass’ most popular segments – “The Kids Stay in the Picture” – prior to being released on DVD and Home Video. He co-wrote, directed and edited FINDING KRAFTLAND, which won 19 awards, including Best Editor, Best Documentary, Audience Award and a Creative Spirit Award. Adam also edited the Documentary “A Conversation With Danny Elfman and Tim Burton” for inclusion in The Danny Elfman & Tim Burton 25th Anniversary Music Box, which was nominated for a Grammy. For the past 8 years Adam has owned and operated AGS Entertainment – a small production company in Los Angeles producing a variety of commercial and corporate content.
Nicholas was the subject of Adam's documentary FINDING KRAFTLAND. He graduated from Emerson College, where his primary focus was music production - working as an engineer at WERS radio. He spent a summer interning for Adam’s production company, where he gained his editing chops working on projects for a multitude of clients. Post graduation, he went on a three-month soul-searching adventure through Japan. He’s still unsure why his soul was on Yakushima Island, but he’s happy to have found it! He returned from his travels with bags of Japanese Kit Kats and a desire for a new adventure, so he joined Adam on his quest to find the happiest people in America.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The scope of this nation-wide quest presents a number of unique challenges, but no film has ever been completed without major obstacles. A great deal of the excitement of filmmaking comes from overcoming these challenges; we’ve experienced setbacks while making our previous films, but conquering them only made us - and our work - stronger.
The biggest hurdle we face is having the manpower needed to quickly and effectively comb through the hundreds of hours of footage that we will accumulate over the course of filming. In order to complete this film in a timely manner (because we hate donating to projects and then having to wait forever before we see results) we are going to need more than just the two of us working on this film. Other talents we will need to employ will be additional editors to help sort, log, organize, and cut, a graphic designer to implement beautiful and entertaining graphics, a sound designer to create a sweet symphony for your listening pleasure, and speaking of symphony we are going to need to hire a composer as well to create a musical landscape to enhance our story. While the two of us possess many of the needed skills and talents necessary to complete the film on our own, we want to actually make this film in a timely manner and having a more robust team will ensure we get this film out to you and the public ASAP.
One unique obstacle we have encountered, given the nation-wide nature of this film, is follow-up interviews. Many of our subjects do not live close to us, so it has sometimes proven costly and inefficient to fly back to see them again as we develop their stories. We have overcome this problem by incorporating different styles of footage: Skype interviews, submitted footage, voice over, and pre-existing media. We are quite pleased with the results, as the end product feels intimate and more rounded. This has helped keep costs down as well.
This is our third feature length documentary so we are fully aware of the many hidden costs associated with making a feature film. Insurance, marketing, licensing, legal fees, equipment maintenance and repair, sound mix, color correction, DVD manufacturing, PR, and festival application fees- just to name a few. Our years of experience have taught us that you can never be over prepared and never be over funded. All of these costs are things we know we will encounter and that is why we want to ensure we have the proper funds behind us so we don’t struggle with providing you the film that we promise to deliver.
The obstacles and challenges are the exciting part of making any film; we welcome the opportunity to overcome any and all difficulties that attempt to block our path to completion.
Thank *you* for making it to the bottom of the page! You either read everything, or just enjoy scrolling. Either way, we appreciate you taking the time to consider our project. - Adam & Nicholas
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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A BIG THANK YOU: Your name will appear on our "Thank You" page at pursuinghappiness.com. And we'll send you a really nice email as well.Estimated delivery:
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THE POSTCARD: You'll receive a hand-written postcard from us expressing our gratitude. ---------- Plus: A Big Thank YouEstimated delivery:
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THE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD: Be one the first to own a copy of the film. ---------- Plus: The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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THE DVD: This DVD will be packed with fun and exciting special features you won't want to miss. ---------- Plus: The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank YouEstimated delivery:
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THE BLU-RAY WITH A CREDIT IN THE FILM: Your name will appear in the end credits of the film. ---------- Plus: The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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THE I AM HAPPY PROJECT SPECIAL WITH A CREDIT IN THE FILM: The I Am Happy Pin, the 10 Ways To Be Happy Card and Your name will appear in the end credits of the film. ---------- Plus: The DVD, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:Ships within the US only
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THE T-SHIRT: The awesome Pursuing Happiness T-shirt. Every time you wear this shirt you will be happier! ---------- Plus: The Blu-Ray or DVD, A Credit in the film, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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THE SIGNED POSTER: Frame this beauty and hang it over your mantle. ---------- Plus: The T-Shirt, The Blu-Ray or DVD, A Credit in the film, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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AN ORIGINAL PRINT, PAINTED BY BONNIE, one of our interviewees: Check out her video on our website. ---------- Plus: A Signed Poster, The T-Shirt, The Blu-Ray or DVD, A Credit in the film, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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THE GAME OF REAL LIFE: A hand-made board game that rewards happiness, created by one of our interviewees. ---------- Plus: A Signed Poster, The T-Shirt, The Blu-Ray or DVD, A Credit in the film, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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A DAY WITH THE FILMMAKERS: Join the filmmakers on a day of shooting or editing. Learn the in's and out's of making a documentary film. Meet-up with us while we're on the road or join us in our post-production facility in Los Angeles. ---------- Plus: A Signed Poster, The T-Shirt, The Blu-Ray or DVD, A Credit in the film, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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A DINNER WITH ADAM AND NICHOLAS: We will treat you and a guest to a fabulous meal where we will dazzle you with entertaining conversation and leave you feeling extremely happy. ---------- Plus: The Signed Poster, The T-Shirt, The Blu-Ray or DVD, A Credit in the film, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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YOU DIRECT, WE PRODUCE: Spend one full day with us as your own personal film studio. We will shoot and edit anything you like, as long as it's PG. Have an idea for a short documentary or film or need a commercial for your business? We will bring the gear, all you need to do is tell us what to do. (Los Angeles area only or you must provide travel)---------- Plus: A product featured in the film, The Signed Poster, The T-Shirt, The Blu-Ray or DVD, A Credit in the film, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Ever wanted to be a producer? Now's your chance! You will receive a credit as an associate producer in the film and you will be listed on IMDB!! ---------- Plus: A Dinner with Adam and Nicholas, A Day with the filmmakers, A product featured in the film, The Signed Poster, The T-Shirt, The Blu-Ray or DVD, A Credit in the film, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: This puts you in the ranks of Spielberg, and you'll be our new best friend. ---------- Plus: A Dinner with Adam and Nicholas, A Day with the filmmakers, A product featured in the film, The Signed Poster, The T-Shirt, The Blu-Ray or DVD, A Credit in the film, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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PRIVATE SCREENING IN YOUR HOME: We will come to you - no extra cost! (US Only, Outside the US will cost a little more!) We'll bring you 20 DVD's of the film and posters for all your guests. And we'll sign everything right there for you too. ---------- Plus: Executive Producer Credit, A Dinner With Adam and Nicholas, A Day with the filmmakers, A product featured in the film, The T-Shirt, A Credit in the film, The Digital Download, The Postcard and A Big Thank You.Estimated delivery:
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THE ROYAL TREATMENT: Come and Join us on the festival circuit. You and a guest will join the filmmakers as our special guests as we screen this film at a festival. You will be treated like the executive producers you are while attending parties and screenings. (Travel not included.) Sorry, we have to make a film and I imagine you like to move around in style. ---------- Plus: Everything else you've seen listed above.Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)