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The Happiest Man Alive – Big Sur & The Henry Miller Library | Documentary Short | Big Sur, CA 

Beginning as just a simple interest in the Henry Miller Library, I decided to do an interview with Magnus Toren, the library’s curator. After realizing the film was about more than just the library, I expanded into Big Sur itself, along with the pitfalls of being one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

I grew up in Big Sur, so the story began to shape into one of me returning home. The short film took its own form of being a reflection of how the landscape has changed and how it has remained the same. Being an only child, growing up in such a silent place, it was only fitting to return by myself with just a camera and a tripod. The entire film is handheld, to expand on the raw feeling you get when you look down the face of a cliff hundreds of feet from the ocean’s rocky embrace. I chose to make this film as simply as possible because Big Sur is a simple place. The only time it gets complicated is with the destruction of tourism and natural disasters. Even then, the real locals are heavily equipped to take matters into their own hands.

Henry Miller describes Big Sur as the place “where nothing happens”. This is probably the most accurate description I’ve ever read and continues to defy the expectations of the ever quickening world around us. I chose to return home just before the time when the world stood still. After shooting the interview with Magnus, I realized I had to return to explore more about myself than the library. Returning to spots I grew up spending my childhood years in solidified my becoming of an adult. I plucked the hazy memories of places that “belonged to me” and put them on a screen, therefore diminishing them as a faint memory, and bringing them into a story.

This idea provokes me, as I realize this film may be exploiting the place I once called home. I have mixed feelings about it being on the internet that I did not have when I was creating it. I worked tirelessly until I hated it, and then I worked on it some more. I know that sharing this documentary will undoubtably bring more tourists to Big Sur. However, I pray that if they do go, they keep in mind that this is a place to be cherished, respected, and well taken care of. 

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