Film about tiny house living made by CU Denver grad to premiere at SXSW Film Fest

“TINY: A Story About Living Small,” a film made by a University of Colorado Denver graduate, will premiere at the prestigious SXSW Film Festival in March.

SXSW, a festival of cutting-edge music, film and interactive media that takes place every spring in Austin, Texas, accepted 109 films out of about 900 submissions. Only 25 of the selected films are traditional documenatries — among them the work of Christopher Smith, a CU Denver graduate, and his girlfriend Merete Mueller.

While a graduate student in the School of Public Affairs, Smith began building a 133-square-foot house. He and Mueller also began filming the process of building the tiny house, which sits on five acres in South Park, Colo.

“When Merete and I decided to make ‘TINY’ our only tangible goal with the film was to try and show it at Telluride Mountain Film Fest,” Smith said. “But as the film quietly grew into a much larger project it seemed like one of the top-tier festivals might be within our reach. We just had to take the leap and go for it.”

Smith earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy at CU-Boulder and in 2011 completed a Master of Public Administration degree through an accelerated, one-year program at CU Denver’s School of Public Affairs.

In the film, Smith and Mueller used the process of building a small house and downsizing as an opportunity to examine the growing tiny house movement. A question asked in the film is whether consuming more space in a house — the average U.S. home size has doubled from 1970 to 2007 — actually enhances a person’s life.

SXSW, a magnet for celebrities and film distributors, much like the Sundance Film Festival and other prestigious festivals, has a reputation for being a gathering that is forward-thinking and focused on creative design, quirkiness and issues relevant to the American West, Smith said.

“My understanding is that SXSW has become one of the top film festivals in the world and one of the top two or three in the United States, so we are so thrilled to be premiering there,” he said. “It is an exciting time for sure.”

The couple have been working with a sales agent and are hoping to secure both domestic and international distribution of “TINY” after SXSW.

As for the Colorado premiere of “TINY”? “We would like to show it at Telluride Mountain Film Fest, which is Memorial Day weekend, and also Denver Film Fest, which is later in September,” Smith said.

The SXSW Film Festival runs from March 8-16. Click on the trailer for a preview of “TINY: A Story About Living Small.”

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