INDIEWATCH: ‘Tiny’ touts big ideals living in small spaces

Imagine living in a home roughly the size of a big broom closet.
That’s what documentary filmmakers Chris Smith and Merete Mueller dive into as they build a 130-square-foot, fully functional home in “Tiny: A Story About Living Small.”
At the helm of the construction is Chris, who’s set on a Thoreau-esque “fleeing to the woods” experience.
He opts to build a transportable home on wheels that he plans to move into the wilderness, and the hook of this is watching him construct it with dwindling funds and a two-month window. The more piercing question is: why a small home? And “Tiny” digs deep into the roots of this living smaller movement.

Filmmakers Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller in front of the tiny home they built from scratch in the Colorado mountains, as part of their documentary “Tiny: A Story About Living Small.” tiny-themovie.com

“The primary asset that comes with a small house is freedom,” says Jay Shafer, Founder of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.
“The world gets a lot bigger when you’re living small because I can afford to do a lot more things now in both cash and time cause the whole world is now my living room,” he says. And he actually lives the life, sharing a 500-square-foot home with his wife and two kids.
Through cuts of Chris tinkering with saws and power drills, “Tiny” takes us all around the country to others who live in very, very small spaces.

Ann Holley and Darren Macca, two of the characters in TINY: A Story About Living Small in their Tiny House in Longmont, Colorado. tiny-themovie.com

Darren Macca and Ann Holley, of Longmont, Calif., share a 125-square-foot pad which was berthed from the Great Recession. Footage of their bedroom, living room / dining room / entertaining room / office — and “Was that their bathroom?” — was fascinating.
I spent the bulk of this movie with my jaw dropped, naturally wondering how I would “survive” in a tiny home.
“I think we’re encouraged as a culture to consume more, to have more, to feel better about ourselves when we have more and to feel good when you go out and buy things,” says Holley. “We are not encouraged to think about the whole cycle of what that means. So, this house kind of allows us to interrupt that cycle.”
With that, I was way into this film.
Watching how these itty bitty, green structures have blown up since the late ‘90s to today kept me glued to the tube. Tiny House blogger Kent Griswold says he averages 10,000 to 15,000 unique visitors a day. I learned it’s illegal to live too small in some areas, and because of that, it’s difficult to count the number of TinyHousers.
Many interviewees attribute their move to saving money, different life choices and contributing to a safer environment with less waste.
Small houses are “less to heat, less to furnish, less to maintain, less to pay for, no mortgage in certain cases, so all around, you’re kinda beating the system,” says micro-architect Derek Diedricksen.

The interior of the 130-square foot Tiny House built by Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller. tiny-themovie.com

“Tiny” feels more like a side-show act than propaganda, and at the end, I was ready to run off and join the circus.
Though, there were some turns in this film that felt contrived.
The whole two-month deadline thing — when viewers are told a tiny home can take a year to two years to build — felt a bit forced. Chris also hams up his lack of experience, blueprint and funds. Then in the middle of “Tiny,” Merete — Chris’ better half, says she’s NYC-bound.

It felt like unnecessary dram, when this doc’s subject packs all the punch.
That aside, “Tiny” works as a DIYers dreams with clips of Chris working electrical wiring and sowing curtains from YouTube videos, even I was convinced at the end of this that I could Superman some amazing stuff, maybe even a house.
It’s so worth a watch.

Grade: B+

Available: Amazon Prime (to own), Netflix Instant.

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