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A documentary capturing an unprecedented, border-to-border crossing of Bhutan -  one of the happiest places on earth.
A feature-documentary telling the story of a human-powered journey across Bhutan exploring the Himalayan Kingdom's unique policy of Gross National Happiness.
A feature-documentary telling the story of a human-powered journey across Bhutan exploring the Himalayan Kingdom's unique policy of Gross National Happiness.
932 backers pledged $112,110 to help bring this project to life.

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    1. Lady Li Isings on

      I simply love the second documentary, your "rough cut". It's way more interesting and actually what I expected when I supported your Kickstarter. You would do well to release it! The feature documentary "Crossing Bhutan" is too much about the expedition for me, there's hardly anything that is about "The Happiest Place". So happy that you decided to show it to your Kickstarter community!

    2. Don Read on

      I enjoyed the mix of the beautiful scenery and the people of Bhutan, together with the interpersonal struggles of the participants as they made their way across the country. I also appreciated Imogen Heap's dry humour. Many thanks Ben for persevering to bring the project to fruition.

    3. Ben Henretig Creator on

      Hey all! After a year of sharing Crossing Bhutan at key festivals around the world culminating and a packed Bay Area premiere, we’re delivering the remainder of your Kickstarter rewards! HD downloads and surveys have been sent - double check your inbox if you haven’t received or drop us a line. In deep appreciation for all of the support and patience, we’ve also decided to share the second film that came out of this whole process with backers. @Lewis, thank you so much for the suggestion of Discmakers - we are indeed using them for our DVD authoring and they have been a joy to work with. @John, thanks for pointing out the error in how all of the songs were tagged - now all of the files should be populating their ID3 tags properly. Sorry to hear you were disappointed; with regards to exclusivity, we feel deeply humbled to have had Imogen write two original tracks for the film. When she requested the opportunity to share the music on her last album, we felt like the opportunity to get the music out to her supporters as well far outweighed the need to maintain the tracks as “exclusive” to our soundtrack. We hope you understand. Onward!

    4. Missing avatar

      John Kwiatkowski on

      Wow, so after waiting 5 years for the "exclusive" soundtrack featuring Zoe Keating and Imogen Heap we get a handful of songs already available from both artists, and y'all couldn't even make the time to label the files as a proper album. Such a disappointment.

    5. Lewis Van Aken on

      Here's some info to help get things moving along for us backers. A great place to get the movie printed is through Discmakers reproduction company. Super fast service and a great product. I've worked with them several times and everything has always been perfect! The other great thing is they also have you covered for all your digital distribution needs as well.

    6. Missing avatar

      Kobus Ehlers on

      Are we ever seeing this film??

    7. Missing avatar

      Martin Kemp on

      What's going on with this please? Seems that I've signed up to receive adverts about a film when I thought I was backing it. Four years late now, you have the a film which is hopefully similar to what people were promised. Please let people have it.

    8. Lewis Van Aken on

      So, got my email in regards to the Premiere of CROSSING BHUTAN. Does this mean our Kickstarter rewards will be filled now? That would be completely awesome!

    9. Christopher Hwang

      Appreciate the update on the (eventual) release date, but the lack of communication or any tangible signs of progress for those who backed is a little disappointing. I am sure you have been busy editing and getting the film (s) ready for distribution, but in the 4 years between the original projected release and the actual date you couldn't have shown the backers *some* thing?

    10. Philippa on

      Watch just once via the email link, seems a bit un-happy to me :(

    11. Daniel on

      Update? The film has been shown, why have your supporters not received a link to something to watch. It has been a very long time.

    12. Ben Henretig Creator on

      Hey Patty and Alex, thanks for your continued patience - I know its been a long process. I'm excited to announce that we’ve just learned that the film has been accepted to an outstanding film festival for it’s World Premiere in February 2016! I've just shared a comprehensive update with more details =)

    13. Patty Mitchell on

      Ben....what's the latest update?

    14. Alexander Lucard

      Five months without an update. This is definitely a scam as this point.

    15. Alexander Lucard

      Three years after the Kickstarter ended and still no sign of this actually being completed or backers getting their rewards. Four months without an update to backers either. At this point it's time to call in the FTC like we did for The Doom That Came to Atlantic City.

    16. Tiago Baião on

      To clarify, I think Ben should go ahead and create the movie that he wants to create even if it takes decades. I believe in his project (otherwise I wouldn't have backed it up), but I also think its respectful to us the backers to share what has been done so far (which seems he is doing as per his last message here).

      So happy days :)

    17. Missing avatar

      AdamWarmington on

      Here's the way I see it... As the great artist Marc Chagal once said, "If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing".

      For about 2 years it seems Ben was working on this film from the head. He was making the film that 'made sense'.

      I firmly believe Ben is now making the film from his heart... I am hoping for a film with a deeper dive into Gross National Happiness, a film that cloaks us in Bhutan rather than racing through it.

      The only reason this film is not yet finished is because Ben is not willing to put his name on something he doesn't believe in. Ben is the most honest and giving of human beings and it would be a disservice both to himself and the KS backers to compromise on this film.

    18. Matthew Scharpnick on

      Hey fellow backers. Looks like some of us are getting frustrated by delays and I had some thoughts to share.

      As someone who knows Ben I just wanted to let people know that he has upended his life to make this film over the last few years, and he isn't taking his supporters for granted and hasn't put the project at all in the background. As crazy as it is, this has been a steady project for him since we all backed it.

      This film has been really challenging for a lot of reasons. I wouldn't blame anyone for being frustrated with such long delays - in fact I have had several discussions with Ben challenging him to see if it could go faster - but I just want people to know that no one wants to finish this film more than Ben.

      That said it seems clear that Ben wants to make sure the film tells the story we all set out to support. Where do you draw that line between a film never ending and it coming out before you got it right? That's so tough.

      I'm excited to see it when it emerges. I think the subjects we saw it tackle in the premiere in SF were things a lot of people are struggling to understand. It's an important story, and while I too want to see something soon, I also want to see something powerful.

      Glad we all came together to make this happen.

    19. natasha deganello giraudie on

      After working with you for years I know that whatever project you commit to will see your love and attention poured into it. Clearly this is no exception. This is a challenging film to make great and if anyone can do it, it will be you. I am happy to be backing you and look forward to seeing The Happiest Place that you have in mind come to life.

    20. Ben Henretig Creator on

      Tiago and Martin,

      Thank you for sharing your comments. Please know that I share your frustration and impatience in seeing the film finished and out into the world!

      I deeply regret setting expectations in terms of a timetable for delivery that I was unable to live up to. As a first time feature filmmaker, I was naive when assessing what it would take to bring the film to completion. In any creative project, particularly documentary, there’s a great deal of risk and uncertainty - and the unfortunate reality is that it took 1.5 years of hard work, experimentation, and lots of key feedback to learn that we needed to return to Bhutan and push the inquiry much deeper. What started out as a fairly straight-forward project documenting an expedition team’s crossing of Bhutan and touching on the policy of Gross National Happiness has become much more.

      For more perspective and context on timeframe, it’s useful to look at comparable films and projects. The typical hour-long PBS documentary has a budget of $500,000 can take 2 - 5 years to make. A dear friend Jeff’s film "Chasing Ice” (comparable in terms of approach) had a budget of $1.2 million and took 5+ years to make [premiered at Sundance, won an Emmy]; another colleague Tiffany’s film “Connected” took $1.5 million and 8 years to make [also premiered at Sundance].

      All that is to say that an ambitious film like The Happiest Place is well within the industry standard for a feature documentary in terms of timeframe - and well below with respect to budget. No, The Happiest Place won’t take 8 years to make - or 5! But I believe very strongly that it would be an incredible disservice to the story / message, to your fellow Kickstarter backers, and to the collaborators of the film not to take the time to make the best film of which we're capable. Releasing the film hastily before it has been finished and secured a meaningful festival premiere would seriously compromise the potential for domestic / international distribution (TV / theatrical / digital) and could mean a very significant missed opportunity to extend the reach of the film beyond friends and family of the project.

      In addition to investing all of my savings into the project, I've worked on the film for the last 4 years without pay so that every penny of your investment is leveraged for key creative contributions outside of my competency [editing, story consultation, etc.]. The unavoidable reality of this approach is that, while I’m able to engage key collaborators to work on the film, I have had to take on additional paid work in order to stay afloat - which is a contributing factor to the extended timetable for the film. If you do some digging around, you’ll find that this approach (essentially working two jobs to help fund the film) is all too common in the documentary world.

      Finally - and perhaps, most importantly - I’m more than happy to share a rough cut of the film with you or any other Kickstarter backers who would like to screen it. I hope that screening the film might answer some of your questions about the journey of the film to date, and what lies ahead. Feel free to direct message me on Kickstarter with your email address, and I’ll send along a digital screener. I welcome your constructive ideas and input on making The Happiest Place all that it can be.

      I hope that this post addressed at least some of your concerns - and helps to close the communication gap around the course The Happiest Place has taken to this point.

      I’ve learned that making a good film involves navigating lots of uncertainty, grueling decision-making and, ultimately, following your heart.

      Thank you for seeing something in this project worth supporting.



    21. Tiago Baião on

      Agreed with Martin. Receiving a 2m clip after 33 months it's defo not enough... (personally I didn't even want watch it due to all the negativity around this 100k$ backing).

      I was to see the film regardless of being the finished product or not, please just show us what you have today!

    22. Missing avatar

      Martin Kemp on

      Hi Ben,
      You mention on this update that the sound and colour isn't exactly how the final will be. There comes a point when more tweaks are going to make little difference. Especially 33 months on!

      With this over two years late and causing several of the 932 backers who supported you with over $100k are not wanting to fund anyone else on KickStarter. Please don't make that the legacy of this film.

      People don't mind it being slightly rough round the edges, but two years late is serious. Not providing a film is worse. Please pass on the film you have to supporters.

    23. Tiago Baião on

      As mentioned by others, I am also saddened by the fact that we, as supporters, of this project are left out. Since the updates are scarce and without any tangible news that feels really disrespectful. IMO it wouldn't hurt to let us watch the first cut you sent to festivals, or other edits you are doing by keeping those who supported your project in the loop with a scene, a video, a skype session here and there. After all, we did contribute with more than 100k to bring your idea to live... Anyway, I don't have any more expectation of seeing this and will likely never participate in any Kickstarter project ever again. Hope you enjoyed the money at least!

    24. Ben Henretig Creator on

      Hey Patty,

      Rather than share the same cut we screened for the in-person rough cut screening, we've been integrating the feedback from the screening so you and other backers are able to preview a more advanced cut. I'll be following up with more information through email today. Stay tuned for a general update very soon!

    25. Alexander Lucard

      Look, you've been trying to "lock down" a festival premiere for nearly a year. I think it's time you just sent backers their rewards.

    26. Patty Mitchell on

      Another 6 weeks goes by since an update. Is there a link somewhere for those of us who did not get a chance to attend the "rough cut" screenings? I thought that was promised at some point if we could not attend. I assume a link of the actual movie in it's current form is what you are sending to festivals for submissions, no? Can this be shared with those of us who supported the film at the level that entitled us to preview?

    27. Ben Henretig Creator on

      Hey Alex - not much to report yet. We're still waiting to hear back from several festivals from our first batch of submissions. Kickstarter supporters will be the first to know when we pin down a festival for our premiere! Thanks for your patience.

    28. Alexander Lucard

      Two years late and three months without an update.

    29. Ben Henretig Creator on

      Hey Carolyn, we'll know the precise date the DVDs will be available when we lock down our festival premiere in the next few months - but we're set for a 2015 premiere. Rest assured I am doing everything in my power to make this film as good as it can be (as quickly as possible!). Can't wait to get the film into your hands / into your living rooms.

    30. Missing avatar

      Carolyn Wood on

      I am very happy that the latest newsletter said that the film was well-received…but what about ME receiving the DVD with extras that I paid $50 for?

    31. Missing avatar

      Blaine on

      Wow! Just an insane amount of updates! Thanks for keeper backers so well informed.......... Can I have a refund?

    32. Daniel on

      Congrats on the 2yr anniversary of funding. Any idea when the DVD will ship? Excited to see this film.

    33. Missing avatar

      Blaine on

      Ben what is the ETA on the DVD?

    34. Patty Mitchell on

      When is this September rough cut screening? Planning needs to happen on the part of attendees too. Please update us.

    35. James Shriver on

      Thanks for the updates!! Liked the TEDxStanford speech!!

    36. Missing avatar

      Martin Kemp on

      Hi Ben,
      Thanks for the update. Good to hear your enjoying the experience. As other have mentioned this is over a year late now. Plus the update seems to infer that it might end up being more than two years late. Can you provide an "episode" i.e. 10 minutes of the film or something similar so everyone can see the progress made.

    37. Ben Henretig Creator on

      Alexander / Richard / Patty - thank you for your patience! A lot of good things happening behind the scenes with the film. We'll be sharing a status update in the next week or so -- stay tuned!

    38. Alexander Lucard

      The movie is a year late and it's been four months since you've posted an update. What's going on?

    39. Richard Korff on

      Ben, you have a very patient crowd here, but to keep them patient, you may want to post an update once in a while :-) ... What's the status ?

    40. Patty Mitchell on

      I'm in Bhutan now...any new updates on the film since the last one in November?

    41. Ben Henretig Creator on

      Hey Alex / Patty, sorry for the radio silence -- we've been deep in the editing cave. Have an exciting announcement to share with backers. Stay tuned - an update is coming very soon!

    42. Alexander Lucard

      Three months without an update. What's going on?

    43. Patty Mitchell on

      We've had no updates since August and the Google Hangout.

    44. Patty Mitchell on

      What's the latest update on the film's release? And the rough cut in San Francisco?
      Namaste...but wanting updates please.

    45. Missing avatar

      MC on…

      Bhutan plans to become the first country in the world to turn its agriculture completely organic, banning the sales of pesticides and herbicides and relying on its own animals and farm waste for fertilisers.

    46. Phil Shankland on

      a film about happiness ... makes me happy! wonderful creative process going on (some may say total devotion to one thing in the moment creates happiness) ... especially liked Imogen's music den! Beautiful motivation behind this film ... now hopefully it can be released to the needy world. Phil, Tinamp Meister, (PS - this morning's Mayan calendar glyph is 'Blue Hand' - craft. "focused intent, fulfilling the moment, bringing peace to all you do.")

    47. Sylvie Rokab on

      That is amazing.... congrats, Ben! Can't wait to see the finished film. Cheers!

    48. Justin P. Moore on

      What an amazing project! Very much looking forward to the film... I've been enchanted and intrigued by Bhutan for years.

    49. Stephen Schneider on

      Please submit this film to the banff mountain film festival !! It is perfect for the 'mountain culture' theme !! happy and sharing the love .

    50. Missing avatar

      r.glutting on

      Can't wait to see the film... Great idea :) !

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