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The Happy Film is a documentary in which designer Stefan Sagmeister conducts a series of self-experiments to test his happiness.
The Happy Film is a documentary in which designer Stefan Sagmeister conducts a series of self-experiments to test his happiness.
661 backers pledged $55,336 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Happiness.  People try to sell it, people try to buy it, and everybody seems to be looking for it, all of the time. It's safe to say that happiness is the one thing we all want… yet we never seem to get it for very long.  Around the world we are earning more, living longer, and we aren’t happier.  What is going on with happiness?

This issue deserves a closer examination, but not through a broad survey of the "state of things".  Making a film about "happiness" can be akin to making a movie "on life."  The subject is so enormous that filmmakers are in danger of getting lost in it.  In our experience, investigations that linger and stories that stick tend to focus on characters -- in this case, people pursuing happiness.  So, we are pursuing the happiness question through the unique lens of one person searching for it, and experimenting on himself.

The guinea pig - the film's co-Director and subject, Stefan Sagmeister.  His accomplice - documentary filmmaker Hillman Curtis.

Their pursuit: "The Happy Film"

The Story 

"The Happy Film" centers around our main subject, Stefan Sagmeister, a New York-based graphic designer known for his rock n roll collaborations and typography. In the course of a year, Sagmeister will experiment with various practices that are widely touted as increasing one’s happiness: meditation, cognitive therapy, and pharmaceuticals.

The documentary will test these various methods during 3 x 3-month experiment periods.  The production team will work closely with a group of health professionals to properly assess Sagmeister’s well-being. Our health partners will monitor Stefan prior to the experiments, as well as participate in occasional check-ups during the course of our 9-month study.

Throughout the film, Sagmeister’s maxims, by way of the book “Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far”, will function as typographical set pieces that related to the ongoing experiments.

Where We Are

We are actively producing this film.  A contribution to "The Happy Film" at this stage will have a measurable impact on the film's outcome.  To date, we've shot approximately 40% of our footage.  Sagmeister spent 3 months in Bali where he underwent an intensive meditation period.  His trip was book-ended by fMRI lab visits and psychological surveys.  Our documentary team was there to track his experience, as well as film a never-before-seen maxim.  Sagmeister has returned, and is now starting a 3-month experiment in cognitive behavioral therapy, followed by a 3-month experiment with SSRI's.  These experiment phases will be heavily documented and will contain extensive medical supervision, leading to some new costs for our team. 


To Learn more about the film

The Team

Stefan Sagmeister is a 2-time Grammy Award winning graphic designer, and founder of the studio Sagmeister Inc.  He is co-directing the short with filmmaker Hillman Curtis.  Hillman's most recent documentary is "Ride, Rise, Roar", a film about David Byrne.    Ben Nabors is a New York-based non-fiction producer and runs the production studio {group theory}.  

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    Thank you! Thank you!

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    A digital download of the film when it’s released on video

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    You will receive a Sagmeister-designed limited edition poster (1 in a set of 3) + the digital download

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    You'll get the completed Happy Film on a specially (and lavishly) designed flash drive when it’s released on video + the poster

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Stefan will call you out-of-the-blue and cheer you up.  This award is transferable.  

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    A Hillman Curtis and Stefan Sagmeister signed limited edition poster (1 in a set of 3) + the flash drive film

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    You will receive the full set of 3 limited edition posters, all signed by both co-directors, + flash drive film

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    You will be invited to Stefan's apartment in New York City, for an evening of fancy sausages and Austrian beer, receive a signed copy of "Things I've Learned in my Life" + the set of posters and flash drive film (transportation and accommodation not provided)

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Stefan will pick you up on the North East corner of Tompkins Square Park (New York City) in a 1968 Firebird Convertible (it's a rental!) and you'll drive through Manhattan in the rain playing his 10 favorite songs.  In case it does not rain he'll bring a water gun. You will be dropped off at a random street corner and he will speed away.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    In addition to evening above, you or your company will receive Associate Producer credit in the post-roll of the film, a tremendous amount of gratitude + the set of posters and the flash drive film

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    You will receive 2 tickets to a private VIP screening of the film in New York City  +  all of the above (travel and accommodations not included)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    You'll attend a therapy session with Stefan and full camera crew. These sessions can get pretty intense.  At some point during the session, we will turn to you and ask for your input.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    All of the above + lunch for 4 with Stefan and/or Hillman in NYC. You pick cuisine and we pick the restaurant and cover the check (we have good taste)

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    A half-day branding workshop and lunch with Stefan and Hillman in New York City (travel and accommodations not provided)

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    Pledge $7,500 or more About $7,500

    Stefan will come (or fly – in the US) to wherever you are and give a talk on Design and Happiness + all of the above. If out of the US, send us a mail and we’ll work it out hello@thehappyfilm.org.

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Funding period

- (40 days)