DO I NEED THIS?: Pursuing happiness at the mall

Photographer and film maker Kate Schermerhorn seems obsessed with the notion of happiness: in addition to her previous documentary AFTER HAPPILY EVER AFTER (which, as you’ll probably guess, focused on marriage), she’s also the author of the photography book America’s Idea of a Good Time (which explores our “pursuit of happiness” broadly). If you’re going to dig into such a topic, and particularly its most American incarnations, you’re going to end up at the mall: we love acquiring stuff so much that we now refer to shopping as “retail therapy.” But how happy do the things we buy make us, and what are the larger costs associated with those moments of pleasure?

Schermerhorn’s current project, the documentary DO I NEED THIS?, asks just those questions. Specifically, she digs into how all of our things have transformed how we live, and what happens to all of that stuff once it stops giving us joy (picture Barbie Dream Homes atop a garbage dump). Sounds a bit like a guilt trip, or at least a re-exploration of where Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff” series and other environmental documentaries have already taken us, but Schermerhorn promises to forego any preaching, and to use “humor, [and] quirky and engaging characters” to share her ideas. Take a look at the video above to get a sense of her storytelling style.

Schermerhorn and her company Luna Park Productions are giving this whole crowdfunding thing a go to get the film finished: a Kickstarter campaign has just a few days left to reach its $10,000 goal. Intrigued by this approach to exploring American habits of consumption and its tie-in to our sense of happiness? Consider helping push this project over the edge with a donation. And  if you’ve got quirky stories to share about where shopping for happiness has taken you, do so: leave ‘em below.


Image credit: Screen capture from DO I NEED THIS?  holiday video