Documentary Australia Foundation

Next submission deadline is
16 May 2014

DEinCEPTION: What is Happiness?

DEinCEPTION: What is Happiness?
2011 May
AUD $to be further falculated (aprox 600,000?)
90-100 minutes

About the film

Happiness, the final end of human actions, the source of our motivations and the expression of our total good, has been the central idea in philosophical inquiries about the 'good life' and the 'good society'. Since Thomas Jefferson and beyond, the pursuit of happiness has been enshrined to be the self-organizing power that enabled the proper order of all things.
So what is happiness? And why has our happiness pursuit led to the present crises - economically, ecologically, socially - and most tellingly, in the ever rising rate of psychological depression?
DEinCEPTION examines the ongoing debate over the means to happiness in the 21st century, from the context of a life-coach's personal vision quest. Challenged by this 'happiness pursuit' dilemma, the filmmaker sought to uncover his own self-deceptions, by taking a 40 day solitary journey in Tasmania.
From the narrative spine of this 40 day experiment, DEinCEPTION examines the hidden and perhaps controversial chronicle of the original 'Pursuit of Happiness' ideal - to mean today simply, the 'pursuit of pleasure'. How has this script for happiness come about? Who does it benefit?
With illustrations from research projects on happiness and interviews with professors, authors, and others - DEinCEPTION exposes the dangerous worldview of happiness as pleasure, and its three pillars:
Economic: While folklore states that 'money can't buy happiness', pleasure-as-happiness can be bought. Therefore linking happiness to the idea of increasing one's purchasing power enabled a self-perpetuating consumerism. But what is the net impact of this idea upon the economy and environment?
Social: By defining happiness through having, this fundamentally changes our social dynamics. Relations now but serves economic interests, and thus, leads to the treatment of people as 'means to an end'. But what is the effect of this objectification?
Educational: 'Uni+versity', from Latin words 'all together', was to merge sciences (the study of means), with humanities (the study of ends), as to apply the right means, towards the right ends. With hedonic happiness' implicit materialism, scientism dominates most educational centers. But why improve efficiencies of means, if towards the same 'status quo ends'?
The documentary concludes with the proposition that to pursue happiness directly (as pleasure), is to be entrapped in addictions, dilemmas and eventual depression. There is a better way. Happiness comes as a natural side-effect of pursuing a meaning life: in cultivating our highest faculties, within the highest ethical acts.

Total Project Budget

AUD $to be further falculated (aprox 600,000?)

Length of Production

90-100 minutes

Stage of Production


How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?

Mahatma Gandhi once said, that we ought to take care of the vital thing, and other things will take care of themselves – when we rectify one angle of a square, the other angles will be automatically right.
The pursuit of happiness goes to the very heart of human motivation, the kind of choices we make, and the long range effects these choices bring about. By addressing the question of happiness in an entertaining and engaging way, the scope of this film is to help us clearly see the philosophical and psychological implications of our essential motivational drive. By helping set alright this vital link from where all our choices begin, DEinCEPTION supports the following four philanthropic aims:
1. Health and wellbeing – in addressing the basis for authentic mental health and personal life fulfillment
2. Community - in cultivating a higher awareness of the purpose of relationships and in treating people as ends in themselves
3. Environment - in bringing about a shift in responsible resource management, beyond mindless consumerism and addictive self-gratification, at the expense of our environment
4. Education - in promoting an integrated education model, wherein science and humanities work in balance, towards the fulfillment of human potential

What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?

The primary target audience for this film is to influence the influencers - i.e. the mental health professionals. It is to be a powerful educational resource that clearly illustrates the cause and effects in what we let ourselves be motivated by: hedonic or eudaimonic happiness; pleasure or growth.
In conjunction with a number of mental health organizations, our objective will be to promote this resource, which can support professionals in clarifying their own awareness of this vital philosophical and psychological concept. Its impact will be measured by both the quantity of professional networks and individuals we reach, and qualitatively, by the those we inspire to join in acts of altruistic service (through ALCS).
This grassroots movement is to then reach the peripheral audience, which is the demographical group known as 'cultural creatives' - i.e. those motivated by self-actualization, social activism and ecological sustainability. We'll provide an online educational system (Moodle based), for mental health professionals to easily engage within their own social network, in this critical debate. DEinCEPTION is to be recommended to their own clients and friends, as it simplifies the understanding of one of the most important ideas for true health, community & sustainability.

What is your education and outreach strategy

Beyond the pursuit of the standard TV broadcast/ screen presentation options, this project (with Australian Life Coaching Society), will be used as a major tool to establish a grassroots 'DEinCEPTION' educational campaign online.
In the first phase, ALCS will launch a new, interactive, worldwide forum wherein coaches, counselors, and other mental health professionals can provide their services to under-resourced individuals and organizations. As this film goes to the heart of the mission of most mental health professionals – i.e. to help others lead happier lives - DEinCEPTION will serve as a catalyst for the re-evaluation of one's own scripts for happiness, and in embracing values like altruism, for real fulfillment and integrity.
This philanthropic organization will work in collaboration with other coaching/ counseling networks, to reach out internationally to thousands of professionals. For them will be set up study guides, message boards, teleconferences and special screenings, to engage in this vital conversation over the two concepts of happiness and what these mean for all of us.
DEinCEPTION educates 'educators' and in turn, as a secondary outreach, members will be given their own resources for how to share DEinCEPTION's ideas with their clients, friends & others.

Who are the filmmakers responsible for the project?

The documentary executive producer is Norm Wilkinson. His documentaries, produced over 20 years, include "Kingdom of the Jabiru", "The Awesome Pawsome", Bush Survival, Cradle of Mankind with Richard Leakey, Ghosts of the Sky with Glenn Ford, Kadadu with Jack Thompson, Mali, and Kalash. Norm's productions have been sold to various international broadcasters including National Geographic, the BBC, PBS, Discovery Channels USA & Europe, ZDF Germany, SEVEN Australia, TEN Australia and NZBC New Zealand. Norm also produced the first Australian full special effects science fiction feature film "The Time Guardian" starring Carrie Fisher.
The filmmaker and writer of the film is John Angheli. He is an executive coach and an active researcher into the philosophy and science of happiness. The background research for this project comes from two Masters Degrees:
1. Masters of Education (Monash University), where he applied a comparative literature review onto the concepts of happiness across history
2. Masters of eBusiness & Communications (Swinburne University), wherein he performed an action research with Australian mental health professionals, to create an online 'distributed coaching mind', for the purpose of expanding social capital and altruism