The official blog for the documentary, "Happy Hunting."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Breaking

Hi everyone!

I just got back on Saturday after the best Spring Break of all time. While the climates were a bit more chilly than Mexico or Daytona Beach, I had some of the most successful production shoots to date, thanks to my wonderful crew and interviewees.

Here's the breakdown:
On Saturday, 3/8, I headed down to Tarrytown, NY to pick up a GPS from my aunt and uncle so I wouldn't get lost on the days of my shoots. While there, I also picked up Gayathri, my dearest friend who had been working at Sundance for the winter, and was in India shooting her own documentary in the fall. It was a wonderful reunion, and she graciously agreed to assist me with shooting in Delaware at my parents' house. I was so grateful to have her join me, especially as we drove through crazy flash floods and hurricane-like winds through New Jersey! (I guess Jersey realized neither G nor I liked that state too much!) Once we finally got to Delaware, we had a great time following my dad around as he taught us about bird watching, the Civil War, dog whispering, and everything else that makes him happy.

On Monday we took a day trip to Philly and hung out at the Reading Terminal Market-- basically a giant Quincy Market, but with better food. It was my first time there, and it was SO difficult trying to decide what to get for lunch! I had to laugh because it was a prime example of "choice overload," which I was going to talk to Dr. Barry Schwartz about in our interview the next day. Gayathri headed back to NY, and my parents and I were soon greeted by Rii, my friend and former professor at Emerson. She was kind (and crazy!) enough to drive from Boston down to Delaware to help me out on Tuesday's shoots in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, she had to make a few U-turns on the way down, but she arrived safely around midnight on Monday.

On Tuesday we left for Philly around 8:30am and got there in under an hour, though I had been warned about terrible rush hour traffic. But trust me, there is no traffic worse than rush hour traffic on I-95 South in CT, so getting to Philly was a breeze! We arrived at UPenn's Positive Psychology Center and was greeted by Linda, assistant to Dr. Martin Seligman. She was a great help and offered us Dr. Seligman's office to conduct our interviews. It was a perfect place to shoot, and the entire office was very laid back and friendly.

Our first interview was with Dr. James Pawelski, who is the Director of Education at the Positive Psychology Center, who gave us some great insight into the field of positive psychology, as well as happiness. He then invited us to film his workshop, "Wanting What You Want to Want"-- sounds tricky, but it was a lot of fun.

Then Dr. Barry Schwartz of Swarthmore College was kind enough to meet us at the Center, where we had another incredible interview. He spoke of his theory of choice overload that he discusses in his book, The Paradox of Choice, which was one of my main sources for research in my proposal for Happy Hunting. After the interviews, I got a group photo with Dr. Pawelski and Dr. Schwartz, and shot lots of B Roll around the Center.

Rii and I met up with my sister, and we had a tasty French/Asian fusion dinner in Philly's Old City district. Rii and I got home around 10pm, totally exhausted, but really happy with the day. We couldn't believe how everything went so smoothly, and I contribute it to her help, as well as all the positive people & positive energy at the Center :)

Rii left Wednesday morning, and my parents and I spent the day in North East, Maryland, home of Woody's Crab Shack and some overwhelming antique shops. It was a really cute town, and reminded me of something on the coast in New England. My parents kept promising me that there was water nearby, but I didn't see any... they're sneaky like that. My mom and I spent that evening shopping at Delaware's favorite department store, Boscov's. I always complain that my mom shops there too much, but they really had some cute stuff... I found a green t-shirt with a winking pink smiley face, so of course, I had to buy it.

I left Delaware on Thursday and headed back to Tarrytown to drop off the GPS. From there I went back to my hometown, Stratford, to see my grandmother. On the way there, I stopped off at my favorite place from my childhood, Russian Beach, where I spent all of my summers. My friend Chris met me there and helped get some footage of the beautiful landscape, which I hope to use in the film.

On Friday, I drove to my other hometown, Stamford, to visit a former boss, and met Gayathri at the train station. We lav miked me and Gayathri shot out the window as we drove around Shippan, the beach community in Stamford, where I used to live. We filmed my old running route as I provided the guided tour. I doubt I'll use it in the film, but it will be something to watch everytime I get homesick (which will make Ryan happy). From there, Gayathri and I headed to Norwalk to interview Dr. Cynthia Barnett, who is a life coach for retirees and an adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport. From the moment we first met her, both Gayathri and I knew it was going to be a fabulous interview. When you step into her house, you're immediately hit with good energy. Everything in her home is vibrant and cheerful, and it matched her personality. She told us of all her struggles that she endured upon moving to the US 45 years ago (she's from the West Indies), and shared many of her triumphs. It was a great way to end an already successful week of shooting.

Gayathri and I headed back to Stratford, where we took my grandmother out to dinner and met up with Chris.

We spent the evening in New Haven at Pepe's Pizza and Libby's Pastry Shop, and I headed back to Stratford to get ready for my early departure. I left Stratford on Saturday morning and appropriately, had to drive through a snow storm on the way back to Boston. But all apocalyptic weather aside, it was one of my happiest weeks ever :)

Now I just have to start transcribing all this footage... 31 hours so far!!