TINY: A Story About Living Small

TINY: A Story About Living Small

TINY: A Story About Living Small (Directors: Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith): Tiny home: a liv­ing struc­ture that can range any­where from 60 to 500 square feet and is typ­ic­ally in the 120 to 200 square foot range. Tiny homes are usu­ally built on flat­bed trail­ers, which make them both eas­ily mobile and qual­i­fies them as “tem­por­ary struc­tures”, allow­ing for com­pli­ance with zon­ing laws and build­ing codes.

Tiny home liv­ing is a grow­ing move­ment embraced by people wish­ing to make a smal­ler envir­on­mental impact, for fin­an­cial reas­ons, and because they gen­er­ally just want to sim­plify their lives. Christopher Smith aspired to such a life­style, so shortly before his 30th birth­day, he pur­chased a five acre plot of land in Colorado and sub­sequently set about build­ing his own tiny home, with the assist­ance of his girl­friend, Merete Mueller. The pair decided to doc­u­ment their exper­i­ence for a short film, but fur­ther explor­a­tions into the tiny home move­ment saw the pro­ject, aided by a suc­cess­ful Kickstarter cam­paign, expand to TINY: A Story About Living Small’s now 62 minute run­ning time.

The co-dir­ect­ors, neither of whom had any build­ing exper­i­ence, soon come to find that even extra small-scale house con­struc­tion is more chal­len­ging and time-con­sum­ing than they expec­ted. Most of the con­struc­tion work is actu­ally done by Smith, who fre­quently relies on instruc­tional YouTube videos to guide him and doesn’t come close to com­plet­ing the pro­ject in the four month period ori­gin­ally estim­ated. Very few of the con­struc­tion-related obstacles encountered are shown, to the film’s slight det­ri­ment (Smith admit­ted in the post-screen­ing Q&A that they were mostly edited out). There’s a lot of people out there who, like me, pos­sess less-than-stel­lar handy­man skills and show­ing more of those tri­als and tribu­la­tions would have made Smith’s build­ing exper­i­ence a little more relat­able, as well as added an extra level of small intrigue to the pro­ceed­ings. Even still, by the time the pro­ject is com­pleted, the tre­mend­ous sense of accom­plish­ment felt by the ami­able Smith and Mueller makes for a sat­is­fy­ing pay­off for the viewer as well. An inter­est­ing side story also devel­ops as the home takes shape involving the couple’s ques­tion­able future together, due to Mueller’s desire to pur­sue her writ­ing career in New York City.

Interspersed with the scenes show­ing the couple’s build­ing pro­ject are inter­views with other tiny home dwell­ers and tours (very short tours, nat­ur­ally) of their dimin­ut­ive abodes. There are repeated testi­mo­ni­als about how much hap­pier they all are with their downs­ized man­ner of liv­ing and the free­dom it allows them, fin­an­cially and in other ways (such as main­tain­ing a clut­ter-free exist­ence that relies just on essen­tials). A couple of dif­fer­ent tiny home res­id­ents talk about work­ing for years at white col­lar jobs that took up most of their lives and left them unful­filled, lead­ing them to reex­am­ine their pri­or­it­ies and make the big change to liv­ing small.

Smith and Mueller’s delight­ful doc­u­ment­ary provides an insight­ful look into the fas­cin­at­ing tiny home move­ment, with thought-pro­vok­ing dis­cus­sions on the mean­ing of “home” and how that concept fits into the con­text of the ever-chan­ging American Dream.


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One Response to TINY: A Story About Living Small

  1. Kelly says:

    Very inspir­ing! I love the mes­sage. I have been liv­ing in an apart­ment and look­ing into buy­ing a condo or house and def­in­itely have a new per­spect­ive now after research­ing tiny houses. Suddenly my 800 sq. ft. apart­ment seems extra large!

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