“TINY”: A (short) Documentary about Living Small

Guest Post by Merete Mueller, co-director and producer of the film.

TINY: A Story About Living Small” is a short documentary about Christopher Smith’s process of building a tiny house from scratch with no building experience in the mountains of Colorado. The film also follows the lives of other families around the country who have downsized their lives to less than 400 square feet.

The project began back in February, when Christopher, also co-director, impulsively bought a plot of land with the dream of building a small cabin from scratch, himself. That cabin turned into a tiny house on wheels when he learned that building codes in Park County, Colorado would require him to build a house of at least 600-square feet. He realized that a house on wheels would allow him to bypass these laws, and the more that he learned about tiny houses, the more he liked the idea of minimally impacting the land he had bought by simply parking his small home on it, instead of digging a foundation into the ground.

Christopher, who has a background in filmmaking, happened to be looking for a film project at the time and I (Merete—the other half of the “TINY” team) nudged him to begin filming his building process. I remember seeing his excitement about establishing a home for himself—on his own terms and of his own design in a landscape that he
loves, and realized that his story of would be a great way to tell the larger story of the tiny house movement, profiling others who feel that living smaller allows them to have more satisfying, comfortable lives.

Nine months later, the exterior of the house is complete and the interior is well underway (the project has taken much longer than we expected, but we think it’s reasonable to say that it will be complete by January of 2012). In addition to building, we’ve also travelled around the country interviewing other tiny house owners, like this visit with Daniel Aragon in Telluride, below:

We’re interested in the ways that downsizing allows people to live more sustainable lives—both environmentally and financially. But most of all, we’re interested in exploring the idea of “home”—how we find and create the places where we feel most comfortable and at-ease.

After all, Christopher’s process of constructing his own tiny house is as much about building a life that feels right, as it as about the house that will contain it.

The filmmakers behind “TINY: A Story About Living Small” visit Derek Diedricksen, the micro-architect and author who has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, Readymade and MAKE Magazine.

If you would like to share your own experience of living small with us, or know of a tiny house that we should profile, please email us speakthunderfilms@gmail.com and let us know!

TINY on Kickstarter

Right now until December 15, we’re running a fundraising campaign for the film on

You can visit our project on Kickstarter and choose from a variety of rewards—including an invite to the online premier of the film, a signed DVD, access to special “Behind the Scenes” footage, even a weekend in the tiny house—in exchange for backing our project. All of the money that we raise will go towards post-production costs of the film editing, recording the original score, sound editing, and sending the film to a finishing house.

Please visit Kickstarter now and help us make us bring the experience of living small to as many people as possible!

25 thoughts on ““TINY”: A (short) Documentary about Living Small”

  1. These two are the nicest…..and they’ve been interviewing a very wide array of people, which is sure to make this film pretty damn interesting.

    Soon- on their blog/kickstarter page, I’m also giving away some tiny house artwork (custom sketches of your tiny house, cabin, reg home) to try and help out.


  2. Great work, guys! I’m so proud to be included in this. You’ve got solid ethics and aesthetics to match. If spendable money comes my way any time soon, I know where it’s going. Thanks.

    • Jay, thanks so much for your support! You were our first interview–and it meant a lot to us that you were so willing to give your time and thoughts to the project. We’re looking forward to the day when we can send you a copy of the finished film!

  3. I wish you the best on your journey. I love that you are focusing on the stories of what is behind those who are choosing to live small. I find it is quite variable and it will be fun to see the stories grouped together. If I could find a grant, I would love to do a little ethnographic study / write-up of those following this journey!

    • What a wonderful idea! It has been fascinating to talk to so many different people about what makes them feel at home. It’s a question that’s central to the process of downsizing, and we hope to inspire many more people to consider what really makes a place feel like “home”.

  4. Wonderful project!

    Instead of buying half price tube socks or some other crazy thing this cyber monday, Tammy and I invested in Merete and Christopher’s film! They are almost 70% funded and they need your help to get over the hump! It is my understanding that kickstarter will not give them the money if they are not 100% funded so they really do need your support! Tammy and I got to meet Merete and Christopher recently on their trip to Portland, OR and Olympia, WA. Merete and Christopher are honest and sincere folks that have the integrity to see this project through. I can’t wait to see the fruits of their labor harvested. Their film has the potential to bring the tiny house message to a whole new audience. :^)


  5. If only all who read this would donate the film would be financed by the end of the day, Of the 21,000 people who “LIKE” the tiny house blog you would of thought that this would be a no brainer, I believe that it is about time people just stopped reading about tiny living and actually do somthing that may encourage it, even if it is as small as giving a dollar.

    I do not mean to preach this really looks like a great project, with good people behind it, so follow the link to kickstart and pledge however much you can to make this film a reality,

    By the way i am in no way affliated with the film or movie,
    Thank you for your time


    • Hi Niall,

      We’re still working out our distribution plan, but right now the best way to see the film is through our Kickstarter campaign–if you back the film at the $30 or $50 level, you will get an invite to the online premier of the film or a signed DVD (plus access to behind the scenes footage and other stuff.) After the Kickstarter campaign is over, we’ll continue to pre-sell DVDs on our website at http://www.tiny-themovie.com and we’ll also be sure to keep everyone updated about ways to see the film once it has been released. Thank you for your interest!

  6. I just got back from my Kickstarter donation for this project. Good luck guys! I’m really looking forward to this movie with its wonderful film style and music. Everyone who likes this blog should donate.

  7. I enjoyed seeing these tiny house very much and hearing the pride and happiness of their builders. I hope many more people build them, not only to conserve on resources but to provide the opportunity for wonderful creativity. I live in a one-room house, small not tiny, and know the selectivity, organization and imagination which go into its set up as well as the neatness into its maintenance. Our adoption of over-consumption in compliance with corporate marketing is like our collective overweight; both lead to self destruction and unhappiness. One other comment is that I loved the music for Christopher and Merete’s film, also understated and beautiful.

  8. I think the very small, small, and tiny homes is the total answer for the future and what I call out buildings which is to say the little buildings that house the stuff you can’t or won’t part with. I look forward to seeing this movement unfold.

  9. awesome! i love your shots and sequencing (not a film-maker, though, so not sure that terminology is right). the interviews are fantastic. you should consider the “kids” angle, maybe interview tiny house folks with kids–there’s a family (of four?) in vermont that built a tiny house. email michael at service@craftsburykids.com. i think they’re already adding on…
    🙂 kim (from montpelier, vermont)

  10. Greetings,

    I applaud your creativity. I also just bought a small lot in Park County and am looking into doing something similar. I am considering putting up a yurt. I’m not sure what Park County will say about that. If they have objections, I will keep looking for low cost alternatives.

    All the Best….

  11. I am 57 this year. Time has flown by. I have lived in a variety of big and little houses, brand new to very old. From the time I was a little kid, I have been building shelters,forts, tree houses, cabins, “traditional houses” and now look forward to building a Tiny house, probably bigger than the what is thought of as “tiny” according to the current concept but certainly much smaller than a typical new house. Less than 1000 ft2 I love the work you have done and I am so hooked on tiny houses especially with the concept of living green, reduce, reuse and recycle, and most of all living a financially sustainable life that will allow me to own my home and not for my home to own me. Keep on building…I’ll be watching and cheering you on!!! Peace-Robin Hammerfinger


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