Feature Documentary: The Happy Film

Stefan Sagmeister, Ben Nabors, Hillman Curtis
/ 60'35 / USA / 2016

Stefan Sagmeister / Ben Nabors, Hillman Curtis / USA / 2016



Austrian designer Stefan Sagmeister is doing well. He lives in New York, the city of his dreams, and is successful in his work, designing album covers for the Rolling Stones, Jay-Z and the Talking Heads.
But in the back of his mind he suspects there must be something more. He decides to turn himself into a design project. Can he redesign his personality to become a better person? Is it possible to train his mind to get happier?
He pursues 3 controlled experiments of meditation, therapy, and drugs, grading himself along the way. But real life creeps in and confounds the process: art, sex, love, and death prove impossible to disentangle. His unique designs and painfully personal experiences mark a journey that gets him closer to himself than he ever intended.

Production Credits

Directors: Stefan Sagmeister, Ben Nabors, Hillman Curtis
Producer: Ben Nabors
Director of Photography: Ben Wolf
Scientific Advisor: Jonathan Haidt
Composer: Colin Huebert ( Siskiyou)
Editor: Sam Citron, Akiko Iwakawa-Grieve
Associate Producer: Sagmeister & Walsh, Topiary Productions
Production Company: So So Production LLC

Directors Bios

Stefan Sagmeister formed the New York based Sagmeister Inc. in 1993 and has since designed for clients as diverse as the Rolling Stones and the Guggenheim Museum. Besides two Grammys, he also won practically every important international design award.
In 2012, young designer Jessica Walsh became a partner and the company was renamed into Sagmeister & Walsh. His Happy Show has attracted over a quarter of a million visitors worldwide, and counting, and is the most visited graphic design exhibit in history. The Happy Film is his first film.

Ben Nabors  is a New York-based filmmaker. His debut feature documentary William and the Windmill, about windmill inventor William Kamkwamba, won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival. He co-wrote and produced the short film Palimpsest, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (2013) and won a Special Jury Prize. In 2015, he wrote and produced Actor Seeks Role, starring Alex Karpovsky and Dylan Baker, which won the Grand Jury Prize at IFFBoston and had its online premiere with The New Yorker. Filmmaker Magazine named Ben amongst the 25 New Faces of Independent Film.

Hillman Curtis was a filmmaker, new media designer, author. His film work includes Ride, Rise, Roar, a feature length documentary about David Byrne which premiered at SXSW 2009, as well as the popular online documentary series Artist Series.