Following several people over a typical year, "A Small Good Thing" looks at the simple sources of human happiness.
Interview with Writer/Director Pamela Tanner Boll
Why did you make your film?
A few years back, everyone I talked to had the same complaints: people were running so hard to keep up with the pressures of life that they felt overwhelmed, isolated, exhausted, and unhappy. Even though our country had more material wealth, people were depressed. Given the additional worries about the growing income disparities, climate change, and the vanishing natural world, the question of what makes a good life became important to me.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You should watch this film because powerful stories about individuals transforming their lives help us to transform the world.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Our culture is more invested in comfort than in truth. Our planet is suffering from our consumer driven way of life. Although we have more connections through the internet and social networking, we as a society have become more isolated and lonely. We have more material wealth, but we are not happy.
These stories show individuals who are making small changes in their lives that have a big impact in the world. Jen and Pete Salinetti use only environmentally sustainable practices at Woven Roots Farm. Also, Sean Stanton feeds his livestock a natural diet…his cows are grass fed and his pigs and chickens are raised on pasture and eat all certified organic grain. Farms that use regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought. Also, agronomists tell us now that you can produce more calories per acre on a small farm than a big one.
Studies show that mindful practices such as yoga and meditation relieve our stress: blood pressure goes down, heart rates drop, negative emotions decrease, and positive ones increase. Tim Durrin and Mark Gerow have overcome struggles in their lives by applying these mindful practices everyday. And in doing so, they have learned that by exposing their struggles to their community, they feel less isolated and more blessed.
And finally, Shirley Edgerton is guiding her young adults to live a life of purpose. She is teaching them at a young age, “that if you leave yourself open [and] that you move with the universe, that’s where your blessings come in.” This is how we can live in a more engaged way…a way that helps us to develop empathy and compassion.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The film was verite and not scripted. We dropped into the lives of each of our characters and let them lead us through the story of how they changed their lives to feel more connected to each other and to the world.
The first edit of our film was flat because it was more about the three things you need for a good life: connection to self, connection to the natural world, connection to community. They were essay points.
But in the final edit, we showed more of our characters’ vulnerability. They have each gone through a painful struggle and through owning it and sharing, they have been able to more authentically connect with their deepest purpose and therefore their community.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Our audiences have related to our characters. It’s a surprise to them that they have connected to the stories in a deep way and are inspired to make small, good changes in their own lives. A good life is not about ease and comfort; our lives are richer and more satisfying when we face hardship and pain head on. That allows us to open our hearts, find our true paths, and connect more authentically with others.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
People think that they are going to see a film about an idyllic existence in a beautiful place…the Berkshires. Instead they find real people struggling with feeding their families, putting a roof over their heads, and dealing with everyday stress. Our characters are not running away from responsibilities or living life off the grid, but they are able to provide for their families and still hold onto their life’s purpose. Also, our film is rich with many stories and experts…people are surprised at how the film quietly weaves everything together into a powerful message.
Article originally appeared on We Are Moving Stories: http://www.wearemovingstories.com/we-are-moving-stories-videos/2017/3/14/vlg36flerp309bjukg3r2wclmfe836