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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

PCB Film Review - Tiny: A Story About Living Small

Have you ever felt oppressed by all of your stuff? Overwhelmed thinking about how much your mortgage or rent is? Disgusted by the idea of McMansion after McMansion, sitting mostly empty with room after unnecessary room? Then Tiny: A Story About Living Small is for you.

Not that you have to be an advocate to enjoy this nice little documentary. Because watching how people choose to live in a small amount of space has it's own appeal.

Here's the basic theory: people live in more space than they need, so a small group of people have decided to try and live well in as little as 124 square feet. I'm not exactly sure how that's calculated; do they count the loft beds they all seem to favor? But that's not really what this film is about, in fact, if you're looking for a treatise on how to live small, while there are some views into how it's accomplished without going crazy (or driving your partner crazy), Tiny is more about how trying to live small makes people feel.

The story is about how Christopher Smith decided he would not only live small, but build it himself. And while he had support and some assistance from his girlfriend Merete Mueller, this is more a personal journey. One of feeling grounded in the home one lives in.

Want a tiny home? Get a tiny trailer.
Turns out that many (but not all) people who live in tiny homes choose to make them using some form of trailer, and there's a practical reason for this: in order to have such a small stand-alone structure, you need to make some choices that are difficult, not to mention expensive, to do and still follow city building codes.

They get around this by creating, in essence, a mobile home. Since it's technically a vehicle, the requirements are much different, and certain efficiencies can be achieved.

Throughout the documentary are interviews with other tiny home residents, learning about their fears, failures, and successes. And they don't always stay tiny, but they take what they've learned and apply it to slightly larger homes they find they need when their families grow.

"The outdoors is your living room,"
and other things you tell the person
who's yard you've set up shop in.
In the end, then, the film is really about re-examining what home means, and challenging the emotional assumptions we as Americans attach to home ownership.

As for the film itself, it's well made, with a pleasing score by Timothy Cleary; excellent cinematography (including some fine drone camera work) by Smith, Mueller, and Kevin Hoth (Lando system?);  and an overall sense of pacing that keeps what in essence is a year long conversation flowing and interesting.

For me, I'd like more details about just how these homes work for people, but again, that isn't what this film is. Nonetheless, I have to acknowledge my disappointment that it wasn't a little more like Small Space, Big Style, a TV show that covers the apartment version of this ideal.

Tiny: A Story About Living Small

7 out of 10 2x4s

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