Which Way To Happy? – A Documentary

Ok so here’s the final edit of my documentary…


comments are appreciated!


The forever saggy middle

It’s been a while but I’m back on the documentary.

Straight after America I was in London for three weeks-work experience with the World Service….which I would’ve loved to write all about…but you know I would like a job one day!

So now I’m back in sunny Cornwall trying to make something coherent out of all my footage. And I can tell you-it’s tough!

First of all structuring something 20 mins long is something I have no experience with….starts and endings I’m fine with… but the middle?!

Middles are always a bit saggy if you ask me. You have to make the story build and reach a dramatic high point…a journey you have to take the viewer on…they have to get it but it can’t be dull. You have to find the time to establish the story before all this too…

How are you supposed to fit it all in?!

Well I’ve started. I have a board of sticky notes with scenes and ideas scribbled on them and 7 mins of semi-edited beauty….and now I’ve hit a bit of a wall.


Intial reflections

Aer Lingus: ‘ We will now begin our decent into Manchester. Please locate your nearest exit and remind yourself of the brace position.’…

It was a very confident pilot that brought me home.

To rain, I might add.

…and let’s not even talk about the flight! My bag arrived and I didn’t need a visa, so anything will do!

Given I was heading home I spent a while on the plane deciding whether or not my time had been 1. enjoyable and 2. successful… and I’m not really sure I came up with an answer.

In terms of whether it was enjoyable or not…

well I think I have to say yes. I didn’t enjoy the whole visa, bags, stuck in pants kinds of moments….but the moments where I was interviewing or filming on the streets or meeting random people- then I really enjoyed it! I met so many people that were really interested in what I was doing and wanted to discus their views to me (unfortunately not too many of them wanted to do it on camera.) I love being behind the camera and being creative and the moments that I was doing that were great.

It was the waiting that wasn’t fun. The hanging around all day on my own. Spending long days alone is not something I’m used to anymore…and something I realise I don’t like anymore. Especially when you’re trying to be creative, it’s good to have someone to bounce off. So next time, I want a team.

In terms of whether it was successful..

I think I have to say yes too. I could have done more. For example, I would have liked to have gotten my artist painting- not just his finished paintings. Would have liked to have got my grandma eating dinner with her family. All that kind of thing….things I’m sure all my characters would’ve let me observe…but time is of the essence and when you’ve only got so long, you’ve only got so long. Plus, all my interviews were near the end of my time in Boston, so I was trying to cram in as much as possible in those final days.

But I think, I hope, it will work. I have an idea of how it will go together….perhaps not until I have done this will I be able to decide if it has been successful or not.

Until then I will be going through all my footage and making a giant plan of what to do and how to do it….Somehow I have the feeling that THIS will be even harder than lugging a giant bag around in the blazing sun all alone….yup!  


Being a professional plonka…

I am a hugely idiotic human being.

This probably isn’t something I should be admitting to the world that has yet to employ me in my chosen career.

Nevertheless…my real aim is humour….and I am willing to do that at a cost!

Quite what this has to do with journalism I’m not sure…all my friends are writing blogs about their actual projects- it’s all very intelligent…whilst I’m writing about getting stuck in my pants and needing to pee all the time. But I mean the journalism will stand for itself, or not, when it’s done….until then I think I’m better off looking at the little moments that occur whilst I’m doing my job…because after all, you don’t want to know that my memory cards randomly stop working, my headphones no longer work and my tripod is no good on the pan.

So that’s why I haven’t wrote in a while….because I’m a hugely idiotic human being.

Pretty much all of my interviews have been jammed into the last few days…it’s been intense….and they’ve been from up north to down south of the city.

Now I should point this out before i begin, all of my interviews have been great, the people perfect and lovely and so helpful. It is I and I alone that have made things difficult….

Going Nowhere

Going Nowhere

First one:

My comedian up in Chelsea. – lovely guy. Offered to tell me how to get there. Now, I don’t know if I have some inbuilt guides related affliction which means I must find directions myself…but that’s the way it seems to go…so I google mapped it.

I have come to learn this over the last few days…google maps sucks!

I had to get the T, then a bus, then a short walk.

Managed the T. Got on the bus. Rode it all the way round because it didn’t have the right stop on it. The bus driver was nice tho and dropped me off vaguely near where I wanted to be.

Then I had my walk….I was in a bit of a fluster because I’d messed up- yet again- and I had a number in my head that I was looking for.

The wrong number I should point out.

So I start knocking on the door. Nobody answers. I ring the bell. Nada. Then a guy pokes his head out of an upstairs window and shouts some choice words at me. I reply in Queen’s English- a few choice words of my own. And then quickly leave.

I check my notes…yup wrong house.

Move on- find the right one and it’s all good from there!

Second one:

This time I had to head to the South End for an interview with my artist. Also a lovely guy…gave me some free art!

So I get there fine…never been to the South End…but when I move here- that’s where I want to live! So we do a really good interview and have a laugh and I’m feeling positive about the day.

It comes to leaving and I think- I can remember the really complicated route back to my hostel. Sure you can jess- just follow the big tower and then go to the left of it- simple right?


The Bruins had just finished their parade of glory through the city and there were giant crowds of people… and little old me got lost in their bustling! Totally lost. I couldn’t even SEE the big tower!

I tried to find a T stop…then realised I had no money on my card and no money in my pockets.

What time do banks shut for the weekend in America? 12 noon. What time was it? 3pm. Pants.

It was a long journey home and a hungry couple of days!

Third one:

So my second to last interview was on Sunday. It was with this lovely old lady who is an ex-camper’s, friend’s grandma…I knew being nice to them kids would pay off sooner or later!

Anyway, she had offered to let someone pick me up…but I really didn’t want to put them out because I didn’t know them at all, and they were doing me a massive favor by seeing me on a Sunday in the first place.

So, like a fool, I google mapped it.

Two T rides, a bus and a walk.

Fine to the bus as usual….the stop existed this time so that was good! But the stop was on a highway near an out of the city shopping complex. Not so good. I obviously didn’t realise this until I got off the bus- otherwise I would have stayed on a bit longer.

But I figured google knows what it’s talking about…pah! Fool, Jessica Dowse!

The streets didn’t even exist!

So I just walked towards the town…I remembered it was near a school…so I went in search.

I crossed a highway- risky business- I wouldn’t recommend it. Searched all around the town and found no school. I asked a few people and nobody had heard of the street…I started to wonder if I was even in the right town.

Then I found a fire station. The fire marshal was there with his wife who offered to drive me to the street.

So I just hopped in a car with a stranger and rode right to the door!

By now I had learned my lesson and took the lift they offered to the train station and had an effortless ride straight into town.


I have now, come to the conclusion that my perfect job would be to host some sort of comedic travel show- basically where I show you how not to do it! haha! But you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way….at least now I have these stories to tell….

and for all of you who know me….there is sooo much more to tell- but those things I CAN’T reveal to the world that has yet to employ me…

Stuck in my pants watching the Bruins win

So yesterday was a fairly interesting day…

My camera broke so I had to fix that….then I got stuck in my pants….just another average life situation for Jess Dowse I guess:

They’re like them ones you can roll up to mid calf you know and they kinda hang harem style- nice I like em.

So I get home and want to change before I head out to watch the Bruins game (final of the Stanley Cup- big deal so I came to learn)… I go to take off my pants and I can’t get them down over my calves…

I pull. I prod. I roll and stretch. Nada.

I am not getting out of these pants.

I’m rolling around on the floor trying with all my might to get them off my legs, or try and roll them out…any movement at all would have been nice…but not so much a smidgen.

I guess one of two things must have happened: 1. All my walking throughout the day made me develop significant muscle growth in mere hours. or 2. ….well I don’t want to talk about that.

So anyway, I resigned to spending the night in the pants…hoping that my lower legs wouldn’t loose too much blood and suddenly drop off…I am here to tell the tail, so needless to say I did survive!

Once the pant situation was over I went to meet my friends at the pour house (I’ve been out in Boston a bunch of times…and this is pretty much the only place I’ve been to!).

The Bruins were playing in the final of the Stanley cup and people were lining up down the streets to get into bars. It was intense. Everyone was cheering and stressing out because they couldn’t get to a TV in time.

We had to wait for quite a while but finally got in.

It was awesome!

The atmosphere was really buzzing…we were talking to people, everyone cheering and screaming at the TV…filmed loads- hopefully I’ll be able to put that into the final thing somehow.

Anyway…this filming leads me to make friends with this guy nearby who thought it would be really funny to obnoxiously film me on his phone…so I went and appologised and told him what I was doing.

He told me he wasn’t mad…then proceeded to tell me he was a maths teacher- and supposedly they’re the happiest of all people. (Something to do with logic and spending time thinking about the angles in a cube and not about things in life!)

We ended up have a massive philosophical chat about happiness and if you could rate it or not. I will now reproduce the best bit of the conversation:

Him: So how happy are you on a scale of 1-10?

Me: I guess 9…

Alyssa: Right now….yeah 9.

Him: No I mean in life over all.

Me: Oh I meant right now too.

Him (looks at me, wiggling eyebrows): Wow you must really love chatting to me hey?!

Me: …Now 3.

Him: SEE! That’s what I mean….you have to make an average of every moment in your life…the 9’s when you’re talking to me and the 3’s when some sleaze bag is hitting on you and make an average….that’s the only way you can get the truth…you’d have to collect data for years and years. Impossible!

Then the Bruins won and all hell broke loose!

Ah man, it was mental! Car’s honking, people singing, high-fiving everyone down the street, screaming, hugging…..amazing!

Finally got home and managed to undress myself successfully….good….have got them on again today.

Clearly not learned my lesson!

Minor panic attack

I was in a very positive mood when I woke up this morning.

I have figured a bunch of stuff out and finally have some semblance of direction.

Today my task was to find an older lady. I set off to the north end…the Italian quarter…lovely sunny day.

Got there…turned my little camera on and it recorded away…but it wouldn’t stop. It wouldn’t turn off. It wouldn’t do anything….agh!

I took the battery out several times and tried to make it work- nope. nothing.

Major panic now. You can take my clothes- but my camera!!!! NO.

Rushed to internet- must fix! I can find no solution…but lots of other people who’ve had the same problem- great.

So I smacked it a bit. Turned it on and off like 5 times. Changed the memory card. Prayed to the camera gods…

I think now it works.

Not quite as pumped to find a little old Italian lady now…but I guess I should try huh?

I require your assistance: What makes you happy?

I have a fantabulous new idea!

It involves you….

I would like you to send me a video, from anywhere, in any old way…

tell me what makes you happy.

No level of quality is required, no specific format…just answer the question- what makes you happy?

The more I get the better the final product will be…so post this on your facebook and retweet like a crazy bird!

When they’re all collected I will put them together as an awesome montage of happy things for the introduction to my documentary (to find out about this…read on!) and we all know how amazing montages are…..

All videos to my email please: jessica.dowse@googlemail.com




So after the mayor I headed straight over to the opposite side of town- to Newton. 

I was heading to meet the psychiatrist that will be the brains of my video. She had invited me for dinner because her daughter was a budding film maker and wanted to meet me.

How lovely is that?

So I met them at the T stop and went and had a nice home-cooked meal at her house with her three kids. Then we went out for ice cream.

I love that that’s a thing in America. Going out for ice cream.

I think it’s one of my favorite things about the place. When I used to come to camp here I used to think it was the sweetest thing to see families out at 8-9 pm all sat on the docks eating ice cream… these Americans know how to do stuff!

So I slept in the basement and woke up stupid early as usual then had my interview with Judy.

It was awesome!

She was so enthusiastic about what I wanted to try and do and really interested in the topic. We talked for about an hour and half and touched on loads of different areas. It was interesting because she said in her opinion it was pretty much impossible for a government to measure happiness…and even more impossible for them to make people happier.

I don’t want to get into what she said really- I’ll save that for the real thing…keep you all hanging on in anticipation…but she was really inspiring and so helpful!

After my interviews with her and the people at the mayor’s office I was flying high and pretty sure I was on to something.

I also thought I should do something about the insane weight of my bag! I have yet to figure it out though…oww. 

Tea with the mayor dontcha know

So I left you just before I went to interview the mayor of somerville…

First of all, if you ever have to walk from the T to the City Hall in Somerville – don’t.

I have now found out there is a bus service and I advise you all to take this option.

Me? I google mapped it. It said a 10 min walk. Ok, I can handle that.

 It took me 45 minutes!

Which is fine for a walk…if you don’t have a film crew jammed into your backpack.

Anyway, I got there super early because I was nervous. I’ve done a bunch of interviews, but never with a mayor. The building didn’t help either – giant, big, awesome….intimidating

I set up my camera and mic before I even walked into the building- I didn’t want to mess around in front of him if he was in a rush.

I went up the stairs and all my nerves went away….everybody was so lovely!

I spoke first to the two people in the office who spearheaded the project for testing happiness. They were so enthusiastic and so positive about my idea. They wanted to know everything and were really interested in who I would be talking to and in what direction I wanted to go.

By the time the mayor walked in we were laughing and joking and I was so much more confident in my plans than I had been the whole time.

The interview itself was good. Short- because he said everything really clearly and quickly-so I figured I’d let him get back to work. Seemed like a really nice guy…

All in all, it was good to get that done. It made me feel like I actually have a pretty good idea and maybe I should have more confidence in it.