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

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Boston Herald's Happy Hunting article

In case you were unable to view it on the web (, you can read the full article here!

Emerson grad hunting for happiness on cross-country road trip
By Darren Garnick | Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | | Movie News

As she packs up her rental car this morning for a coast-to-coast quest for the definition of happiness, Nicole Prowell is a little worried about how strangers might define her. Will they perceive her as a “spoiled college kid” without enough life experience to tackle the question, or a “Kumbaya”-singing simpleton who believes she can find answers that have eluded humanity for centuries?

The 26-year-old Prowell, who just earned her master’s degree in documentary video from Emerson College, is producing “Happy Hunting,” a film about her fascination with the “positive psychology” movement. On the road from Boston to Portland, Ore. over the next 15 days, she plans to interview dozens of strangers about their current state of bliss.

“I’m no expert,” Prowell shrugs. “I’m not expecting to find a universal truth. But we just seem to be so lost all the time.”

The filmmaker’s route includes major cities such as Cleveland and Chicago and tourist meccas including Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park. She will share the driving with her boyfriend, Ryan. In Seattle, the couple also intends to pay their respects at the spot where Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain committed suicide. A downer, perhaps, but they were both “little 12-year-old grungers when he died.”

Achieving lasting personal contentment is a trendy topic. Tal Ben-Shahar’s course “Happiness 101” is now one of the most popular classes at Harvard University, and Daniel Gilbert’s book “Stumbling on Happiness” recently cracked the bestseller lists.

Prowell says “Happy Hunting” will interweave the experiences of strangers with her own personal ups and downs - from a part-time job promoting Axe shower gel at Kmart (“the loneliest weekend of my life”) to a sombering ordeal watching her father recover from quadruple-bypass heart surgery.

A 20-minute version of “Happy Hunting” is slated for free public screenings at Emerson College in mid-August and at the Coolidge Corner or Brattle theaters in the fall with other graduate student works. Prowell hopes to eventually expand her effort into a feature film.

As for the conventional wisdom that long road trips strain relationships, Prowell insists that she and her boyfriend have already been battle-tested: “We’ve sat in traffic on the way to the Cape.”

Darren Garnick covers independent film for the Herald’s “New England Film Junkie” blog, which will be tracking Nicole’s happiness tour over the next two weeks. Go to: for the latest developments.

Article URL:

No comments: