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Thrive with Less – an interview

I had the pleasure to take a first look at the
documentary about minimalism (trailer at the end), Thrive With Less.

About the movie and a minimalist lifestyle I prepared and interview with Josh.

1. Josh, introduce yourself first.

My name is Josh Michels and I’m in my final semester at Michigan State University studying film and graphic design. I love independent documentary work and long to pursue that upon completion of my degree. I hope to work on films that address relevant issues that have a positive impact on the greater society. I also see documentary film as a great way to help people tell their stories in an engaging and accessible manner. When not working on film or art projects, I am an active member of Michigan based folk band “Doug Mains & The City Folk.” In it I play cello and accordion, and seriously love being a part of the family of musicians we’ve established. I was one of two co-director/producers on the film.

2. How do you came up with the idea to make the project TWL?

The idea for TWL was sparked by a summer I spent working in Denver, Colorado at the Denver Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter. Each day I saw hundreds of men and women come through the Mission in search of their basic needs: food, shelter, and a sense of community. The people I lived with that summer also had a very intentional house in that we all engaged in each other’s lives and actively pursued time with each other. We had a house garden and also all commuted by bike throughout the city. I saw all of these things and compared them to the general society in which we live, and felt there was a large disconnect. Why do people have so much stuff? Why can’t we look at what’s necessary in life and not go beyond that? Why are comfort and happiness so often equated with possessions and materialism?
Being trapped between these to polarized lifestyles caused me to question the norms of our society and take steps towards living a more minimal lifestyle. With these thoughts and questions, I began seeking out people that held similar beliefs and found 5 others that became the Thrive With Less family. The idea of creating the documentary was to show others that this way of life CAN be sustainable and we’ve been so impacted by it.

3. What do you thought about a minimalist lifestyle before TWL,
and what after?

As I previously mentioned, I had started to pursue a number of minimal practices before TWL started, so in that respect, I was very much in support of living minimally both before and after production. The one thing I’ve discovered in doing this project is the importance of community. Throughout our challenges, we all knew that the six of us were all going through the same things and experienced struggles at different times. That community was there for support and understanding more than anyone else. Finding a community to surround yourself with, regardless of the uniting factor is extremely important in life.

4. For all movie fans: what was the toughest challenge in shooting it?

One of the hardest, and also most rewarding, parts of making this film was the fact that we were making it ourselves, about ourselves. Which meant we had to be completely transparent to the cameras. They were on when we were excited, but also when we were struggling or had failed a challenge. The fact that the six of us we’re on both sides of the camera allowed us to connect more deeply than if we had had an outside film crew come in and work with us, but it was quite revealing to have our emotions and thoughts exposed for others to see.

5. Boil it down to one sentence, why being minimalist is good for you.

One sentence on being minimalist, hmm that’s a tough one.
I’d say: Living minimally allows me to engage deeper with those around me and “actively live life” rather than be distracted by the materialism and business of our society.

Just a few updates on TWL. Three of us have graduated college and are starting to live life in the real world. All six of us definitely learned from our experiences during the production period, and have made significant changes to our lifestyles. While we don’t hold ourselves to the strict challenges currently, we’ve adapted many of them to work well with our current stages of life. The film itself is currently offline, as we are submitting it to film fests around the country. Our mission is to get this message out to as many people as we can, and this is a necessary step in doing so. Eventually, the film will return to it’s online home where it will be viewable for free to start more conversations about what a minimal lifestyle is.

Thanks so much for expressing interest in our project! And to anyone out there that would like to get in touch or share a story of living minimally, feel free to send an email to: contact@thrivewithless.com or find us on facebook: Thrive With Less. We have a number of announcements we’ll be making in the next few weeks, so be sure to check back in to see what’s happening, and how you can be involved!

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