Filmmaker’s Name and Title: Ryan King (co-producer, director) & Ceylan Carhoglu (co-producer, director, editor)
Film Name: The Happiest Place on Earth
Length of film: 12 mins
In 50 words or less, what’s this film about?
The Happiest Place on Earth is an observational documentary that chronicles the coming-of-age story of Albino, an underprivileged child growing up in the middle of an impoverished Anaheim neighborhood. Told through Albino’s point of view, The Happiest Place On Earth offers an intimate story from a quintessentially American dream community, juxtaposed next to iconic Anaheim monuments in order to illuminate the changing face of American communities through the story of his family. In a verité approach, we follow Albino as he struggles to become a respectable young man in a life with no positive father figure.
What inspired you to make this film?
We made this film as part of a course at Chapman University called Community Voices. Community Voices is a social issue documentary film program that links Chapman University documentary film students with Orange-County based organizations. Each semester, groups of students produce short character-driven portrait films that highlight causes the partner organizations aim to serve. We partnered with Higher Ground OC, a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring programs for youth in at-risk communities in Anaheim and Santa Ana. Through Higher Ground, we were introduced to Albino and his family. From our very first meeting, we realized Albino was a remarkable young man who deserved to have his story told.
Name your Top 3 Films of All Time:
Tickled, Dear Zachary, Rich Hill
What’s your connection to Mississippi? (If you don’t have one, why did you apply to a Mississippi festival?)
Because our film was focused on a family in our local community of Orange County, we entered the Crossroads Film Festival to show people from other communities a story that they might not have known existed. In our opinion, that's the greatest part about watching and making movies: experiencing different lifestyles, places, and cultures, while still empathizing and connecting to story's characters and themes.
Anything else you want the audience to know about your film:
The Happiest Place on Earth would not have been possible without the amazing staff at Higher Ground OC, our Community Voices professor Sally Rubin, the Dhont Family Foundation, and Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. It takes a lot of work from many different people to make a movie and we are incredibly thankful for everyone who offered assistance and guidance!