It was inevitable: those lovable, trailer-mounted tiny houses and all they represent–sustainability, non-consumerism, the DIY sensibility, off-gridded-ness, giving-the-finger-to-the-man-ness–have been immortalized in celluloid (or its digital equivalent). “TINY: A Story About Living Small” is a movie that follows one man’s epic journey into tiny living.
The documentary centers around Christopher Smith, who decided to build his own tiny house in the spring of 2011. The plan was to build the house in his then-Boulder, CO home, document the action, then move it to Hartsel, CO (aka middle-of-nowhere) where he had bought a small plot of land. Early on in the movie, Smith explained that he had no building experience, no blueprints, didn’t have a ton of money and that most people who built their own tiny houses took anywhere from six months to two years. Despite these factors, Smith made the ominous prediction that it would take him two to three months to build his.
The film follows the buildout, which is much helped by his girlfriend Merete Mueller (the pair wrote, filmed, directed and produced the whole thing). As expected, the process turns out to be far more difficult than Smith anticipated–construction issues, money troubles, weather, etc. With each passing month, Smith seems to travel further and further from his tiny goal. The movie becomes as much an ode to stick-to-itiveness and the DIY ethic as living small.
The movie does provide context for the tiny house movement. There are interviews with tiny house luminaries like Jay Shafer, Deek Diedricksen and Tammy Stroebel, as well as a number of “normal” people who have chosen to live tiny like 84 sq ft home-dwelling Dee Williams. While there’s talk about the aesthetic and design value of living small, the main reason most of the people give for their choice is financial independence.