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Pursuing Happiness –New Movie

Pursuing HappinessBy: Judy Shields

Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 3/16/16 – “As complicated as it is, happiness can be simple to accomplish, it’s the little things in life that truly make us happy” Adam Shell told The Hollywood Times over the weekend about his new “Pursuing Happiness” movie.

With the United Nations International Day of Happiness officially happening this coming Sunday, March 20th, Adam Shell will be screening the movie in Los Angeles, so make it a point to check your local theatre to see where it will be playing.  The movie will be released later this year on DVD.

Adam Shell Pursuing Happiness
Adam Shell Pursuing Happiness

Filmmaker Adam Shell, who made the acclaimed show biz documentary biographies “Put the Camera on Me” (2003) and “Finding Kraftland” (2007), says that the gap between our desire for happiness and our failure to find actual examples of happiness was the impetus for his documentary “Pursuing Happiness,” which has earned audience and critical acclaim at film festivals and will be released in theatres and VOD later this year.  “The premise behind the project is that we were trying to do something that’s lacking in our society,” he explains, citing that Americans spend ten billion dollars a year in “happiness” based products, therapies, and services, with seemingly little to show for it.  Where were the happy people, Adam wondered?  How did they achieve this much desired but rarely seen trait?  What were their secrets?

Richard Sherman Pursuing Happiness
Richard Sherman Pursuing Happiness

And the response is the compelling, joyous, and provocative documentary “Pursuing Happiness.”  Made over the course of two years – with crowdfunding and social media as the source for both the production budget and the film’s content – the film follows Adam Shell and producer Nicholas Kraft across the country where they talk to remarkable people who radiate genuine happiness.  After their initial shorter jaunt up the California coast to Oregon, Kraft and Shell had two more long road trips, eventually sharing over 7000 miles of road together.

John Lawson & Whitney Pursuing Happiness
John Lawson & Whitney Pursuing Happiness

Every story shows a different struggle and a different triumph as artists, public servants, parents, and dreamers show the world what makes them happy – and how that happiness has a remarkable impact on the people and communities that surround them.

With testimony from experts in the field of mindfulness, psychology, art, sociology, religion, and cultural studies, “Pursuing Happiness” is a crash course in what makes us our best, and the film has brought Adam Shell into contact with the growing worldwide “happiness movement.”  With successful screenings at several film festivals (which lead to an appearance for Adam Shell at the United Nations and on “The Today Show”), the film is due to be released in select theatres (Tugg Screenings) on March 20, designated as “International Happiness Day,” and will subsequently be released in additional theatres and on demand and streaming services throughout 2016.

It was a great opportunity to see it again this past weekend and there were some changes, but the folks featured in the film where still there and what stories of happiness they had to share.  Tugg platform is hosting the screening of Adam’s film.  Tugg Screenings is an online company, where a person can bring the film to your local theatre. All you have to do is fill out the Event Request Form to pick the film, date, time, and place for your screening, the theater approves the request, and you can begin selling tickets on your personalized Event Page.  Next, sell enough tickets before the event deadline to confirm your screening. If you don’t meet this “Threshold,” no one will be charged and your event will be called off.  Finally, sit back and enjoy the movie with your community! Make it a fund raiser!  You’ll make 5% of the ticket sales.  Check it out at

The film will be opening in Los Angeles and New York sometime in April.  Adam said that the film will be released in early May to public libraries and schools. What a great idea Adam had to release his amazing film to schools, so that children can see this movie, which is all about happiness and our pursuit to be happy.

Last year, at a private screening in Hollywood, The Hollywood Times was invited to a private screening and Richard Sherman, well-known songwriter/composer, who, with his late brother, Robert wrote “Winnie The Pooh” and the music for “Mary Poppins” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and other Disney movies, was there at the screener.  He is featured in the movie and what he has to say about happiness will bring happy tears.

Also there in attendance was John Lawson, an actor, producer, comedian and friend of the Hollywood Times. He too was featured in the movie.  His daughter Whitney contacted Nicholas Kraft through Kickstarter to tell them about her amazing father, who just happens to be a single parent to Whitney and a double amputee from severe burns in an industrial accident 29 years ago. His story is one that will touch the hearts of all those that see this wonderful film.  After seeing his story in the film, you will just want to be able to meet him in person.  I’m thankful that we were able to meet that night and form a friendship.  John Lawson has covered a couple of film festivals for The Hollywood Times.  Check out his website at

The movie focuses on our pursuit for happiness and Adam and Nicholas take off across the country to interview folks that family members or friends wrote to them about.  Adam said that he interviewed over 400 people and had to decide which stories to bring to the big screen, This movie should be seen on the big screen and with many people around to talk about the film.

A concrete lesson that Adam learned from one of stars of his film named Gary was, what you put out in the world is what you experience.  Not that you give something and you are waiting for it to come back to you, because once you give, that gives you experience.  You experience that right away, like if you are giving positive you will get positive.

Adam told The Hollywood Times that the making of his film was an amazing experience each and every day and he has many hours of additional footage that he can use for a possible sequel and that would be a great thing to have yet another movie of happiness.  Hopefully Adam will turn these interviews into a series with each of the individuals he has interviewed, one can hope.

Nicholas Kraft is currently working with the company that created “the List” app.  The List App is a new way to create and discover lists about anything and everything.  Share your experiences, opinions, and expertise and enjoy lists from friends and the leading voices in TV & film, music, food, sports, news, fashion, comedy and more in a vibrant and positive community.  Check it out at

About Adam Shell and “Pursuing Happiness”

As he started putting footage together, however – and trying to tell the complete story of the lives of his subjects – Shell started to see things differently.  “After a very early screening for friends, someone asked me, ‘do we need to experience tragedy to experience happiness?’  I had thought that those were just emotions or moods – but I started to realize that the answer was yes.  If you’re a human being and you feel, you’re going to experience both.  In any tragedy, you’re halfway to happiness:  if you’re not experiencing one, you’re not really experiencing the other – the two are pretty much impossible to separate.”

But each of the figures in “Pursuing Happiness” emerges as far more than examples of how to have a good attitude, and ultimately Shell found himself telling a slightly different story than the one he intended.  “From the beginning, my mindset was that this was only going to be about happy people – all sugar and candy, everyone out there who is just really, really happy.  Some people said, ‘don’t you want to find people who have struggled to find happiness?’ – and I was against that because I had this different vision.”

The end result is a documentary that is not only uplifting and affirmative as Shell intended, but also poignant and brutally honest in examining the delicate balance between profound happiness and mournful sorrow.  And the message is resonating, as audiences have responded to the film with great enthusiasm and a desire to see more.  “The coolest things that have happened just seemed to happen because they were right for the project,” Shell says.  “From meeting so many amazing people, to appearing on ‘The Today Show,’ or appearing at the UN as part of the International Day of Happiness – it was part of another lesson I learned, to follow every lead, to just put questions out there and see what the response was.”  With hundreds of interviews and footage that didn’t make the final cut of the documentary, Shell is working on developing the remaining material into a video series, and hopes that his quest of pursuing happiness will never end.  “People are getting something really good out of this!”

About the United Nations International Day of Happiness

Founded June 28, 2012 The International Day of Happiness Resolution 66/281 was the result of the effort of United Nations adviser Jayme Illien, who conceptualized the idea for a U.N. Resolution that would recognize the pursuit of happiness as a human right and a “fundamental human goal.”

Jayme Illien, founder of the International Day of Happiness, and Illien Global Public Benefit Corporation, gained the support for the idea of the new International Day of Happiness from the President of the UN General Assembly and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as all 193 UN member states to draft and adopt a new UN resolution to create the new international day, the International Day of Happiness. Jayme Illien authored UN resolution 66/281 and campaigned for its adoption by consensus of all 193 member states.

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