Get the Big Picture
Documentaries have exploded in popularity in recent years thanks to the advance of modern technology. YouTube alone has empowered documentary makers. Netflix has also helped give these filmmakers better access to viewers. The world of tiny houses has not been exempted from this trend, and you’ll actually find a wide range of films out there dedicated to exploring the world of tiny houses, small living, microgreen housing and more. What are the best tiny house documentaries, though? While you could certainly filter through the options on your own, let us give you a hand by pointing you to some of the better options out there.
Tiny was filmed and produced by Christopher Smith, the builder who is the focus of the documentary. While the film is certainly about tiny houses and their wide range of permutations, it’s about something more. As Smith says, it’s “about home and how we find it”. Tiny follows Christopher Smith’s journey in building his tiny house from the very beginning. The opening scene is of Smith and his girlfriend Merete on the road to pick up the trailer that will eventually become the foundation of his home.
It chronicles his struggles and triumphs throughout the building process, from his somewhat naïve belief that he could complete the build largely unassisted over the course of a single summer to his eventual success and the move of the house to his land in extreme rural Colorado (where he lives completely off the grid, relying on solar power to run the house). It’s a very good look at what a DIY tiny house build is like, but it also goes deeper.
Interspersed throughout the documentary are interviews with other tiny house owners from around the country. They share their stories, their inspirations and their reasons for choosing to live in a tiny house. You’ll even find two of the industry’s most notable personalities here – Jay Shafer, founder of both Tumbleweed Tiny Homes and Four Lights, as well as Derek Diedricksen (Deek) of RelaxShacks.com (a designer, builder and all around tiny living enthusiast).
There are also interviews with Christopher’s family, giving viewers a look into his childhood and adolescence, as well as the views of those family members on his desire to live in a tiny house. The documentary’s powerful, positive message, personal focus and wide range of topics makes this a “must watch” for anyone considering living tiny. It can be purchased via the website or viewed on Netflix.
We the Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats & Wee Shelters
If you’re looking for tiny house documentaries that don’t require a DVD player or a subscription to Netflix, this is right up your alley. We the Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats & Wee Shelters is a film by Kirsten Dirksen, produced in 2012, that spans far more than what you might think of when imaging tiny houses. If your idea of a tiny house is a Tumbleweed or Four Lights model, this documentary will open your eyes to the immense possibilities inherent with living small.
Kirsten takes viewers on a wide-ranging tour of the tiny house world, including homes built in caves, riverboats, garage apartments, conventional trailer-based tiny homes and more (even a converted pigeon coop). However, the homes highlighted here are only a small part of what this documentary is really all about. The real gem is the wide range of individuals Kirsten interviews, who are happy to share their inspirations, drives, goals, triumphs and failures in living more sustainably.
In terms of locations alone, this documentary has a very broad focus. Kirsten travels across the US, hitting homes in California, New York and even Hawaii. She also takes viewers across the Atlantic to tour homes in a number of French cities, and then south into Spain. Viewers will find a wide range of individuals featured here, including Jay Shafer (one of the most influential individuals in the entire tiny house movement), Jenine Alexander of Forge Ahead Construction and Suchin Pak of MTV.
The documentary has received quite a bit of good press from sources like TreeHugger, The Blaze and Weekly World News, and it’s also available to view in its entirety on YouTube (it runs 1:21:47).
Small Is Beautiful: A Film by Jeremy Beasley
Scheduled for release in 2015, Small Is Beautiful promises to be one of the best tiny house documentaries. Directed by Jeremy Beasley, the film “follows a couple, a young guy and a 50-year-old herbalist through their own tiny house journey to see what it’s really like to build and live in a tiny house.” It will be a feature length documentary and is set for a worldwide debut.
While the film is not yet available for audiences, those champing at the bit to learn more can access a number of resources on the website (SmallBeautifulMovie.com). You can sign up for email notifications so you’re one of the first to know when it is released, but you can also access the blog, where you’ll find information not only about the movie, but about partnerships formed with other creators (including Melissa Rachel Black, who helped Jeremey produce a lovely illustrated notebook). Those notebooks can be purchased through the site’s store (a 3-pack is $16.95, and there is also an available mixed design 3-pack on offer). You can also preorder the movie here for $12.95.
While the three films listed above are (or promise to be) some of the best tiny house documentaries, there are many other video-related resources for those either contemplating a smaller lifestyle or already living the life. A couple of the better options can be found below:
RelaxShacks.com – If you’re looking for lots of video inspiration, look no further. Led by Deek Diedricksen, this YouTube channel delivers short, medium and long videos highlighting everything from new models manufactured by some of today’s top companies to plans dreamed up by the team.
Tumbleweed – Love tiny houses? Looking for inspiration or a possible model to purchase? Tumbleweed Tiny Homes has their own YouTube channel where they do model walk-throughs, demonstrations and more.
As the tiny house movement continues to gain steam, look for even more documentaries and video offerings to come out.