I know a lot of you have been eager to hear an update on the film. Don't despair - the silence comes when we dive real deep in our editing cave!
It's been a lot of work cutting and integrating the material we shot during our three week return trip to Bhutan in June - but it's taken the film in a new (and exciting!) direction that is making for a much stronger film.
A month ago, I felt like we had hit a bit of a wall with the edit. I knew the film wasn't quite there yet, but it wasn't 100% clear about the path forward. A good friend, Michael Collins, the Director of the documentary "Give Up Tomorrow", faced a similar situation 6 years into making his first film, with a cut in hand that came up short. He brought in what's called a "finishing editor" to breathe new life into the material. Coming into a film later in the process allows an editor to be impartial about reshaping the story with an eye for the essential.
With the help of a "finishing" editor, Eric Metzgar, Michael's film, “Give Up Tomorrow”, went on to premiere at Tribeca Film Festival, win countless international awards including an Emmy nomination, and ultimately helped to get the protagonist, a young man wrongly accused of murder, off of death-row.
I sat down with Eric to explore whether he was the right fit for The Happiest Place - and he (and the Universe) responded with a resounding YES.
Eric is a two-time Emmy nominated Director and Editor. Two of his last three films were screened on PBS POV, and his last film on two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer Nicolas Kristof, "Reporter", premiered at Sundance and was broadcast on HBO. Apart from his deep feature doc experience, he is Buddhist practitioner, deep thinker, and shares my commitment to telling powerful, human stories in the service of a better world. His films are intelligent, aware, and very personal.
Our last two weeks working together have brought new life to the film. There's a level of perspective and insight that can be gained only through struggling through the process on your own - and Eric has been through battle several times. As a first time feature Director, I've found his insight and feedback dead-on. Our collaboration has inspired me to think much more deeply about the film and not to settle for anything less than a film that is truly authentic, captivating, and utterly unique.
I'd love to be able to give you a very clear timeline for when we'll have the film finished and in your hands (I'd like one too!) but but my biggest lesson over the last few months is that the edit MAKES or BREAKS a doc, and that making an authentic, unique, moving film takes an incredible amount of time, patience, and perseverance. I feel incredibly grateful to have Eric on the team and for the new shape the film is taking.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for believing in me and in this project -- and for being patient with this process. Feel free to email me at contact(at)thehappiestplacefilm.com with any questions or thoughts.